Tom Kempinski

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Tom Kempinski
Born(1938-03-24)24 March 1938
Hendon, England
Died2 August 2023(2023-08-02) (aged 85)
(m. 1967;div. 1972)

Thomas Michael John Kempinski (24 March 1938 – 2 August 2023) was an English playwright and actor [1] best known for his 1980 play Duet for One , which was a major success in London and New York City, and much revived since. Kempinski also wrote the screenplay for the film version of Duet for One. [2] In addition, he made minor appearances on numerous British television shows including Dixon of Dock Green and Z-Cars .


Early life and education

Kempinski's parents, Gerhard and Melanie, Kempinski, were restaurateurs and hoteliers who ran the Kempinski hotel in Berlin. They emigrated to London in 1936 as refugees before the Second World War. [3] Kempinski was born in Hendon in 1938 but was evacuated to stay with his paternal grandparents in New York City at the age of 2 to avoid a potential Nazi invasion of England. On return to London, he was educated at Abingdon School from 1951 to 1956. [4] [5] [3] In 1957, he gained a major scholarship in Modern Languages to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, but suffered a breakdown and left after only ten weeks, albeit having time to join Footlights in the meantime. [6] [7] [3] After Cambridge, he had a brief spell in the Maudsley Hospital in South London. [3]

Acting career

Kempinski then took up a place at RADA before moving into acting. His first rôle was in The Damned before moving into stage acting with Lionel Bart's Blitz!. [3]

Other stage and film rôles followed, notably in the anti-war play Dingo by Charles Wood and Gumshoe by Stephen Frears. [3]

In May 1968, Kempinski joined the student revolutionaries who occupied Paris's Odéon Theatre as part of "les événements". [3]

Personal life and death

Some sources state that Kempinski was married to the actress Frances de la Tour, who starred in the original London production for Duet for One , [8] whereas his obituary in the Guardian describes de la Tour as his partner. [3] He was married to the actress Margaret Nolan from 1967 to 1972, [9] and to solicitor Sarah Tingay from 1991. [10]

Tom Kempinski died on 2 August 2023, at the age of 85. [3]

Selected filmography (actor)

See also

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  1. "Tom Kempinski". BFI. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012.
  2. "Duet for One". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Coveney, Michael (21 August 2023). "Tom Kempinski obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  4. "Valete et Salvete" (PDF). The Abingdonian.
  5. "OA Notes" (PDF). The Abingdonian.
  6. "School Notes" (PDF). The Abingdonian.
  7. Maxwell, Dominic. "Tom Kempinski: 'You fear you will go berserk and murder everyone'".
  8. "Duet For One". Vienna's English Theatre.
  9. "Exorcising the demons within". The Independent. 23 October 2011.
  10. Maxwell, Dominic. "Tom Kempinski: 'You fear you will go berserk and murder everyone'".