Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69 after waging a secret battle with cancer, his family said today.
The British actor, known for his roles in films such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood, kept his fight with illness private before his death.
He revealed last year that he had secretly married his long-term partner Rima Horton, whom he had been in a relationship with since 1977, in a New York ceremony in 2012.
His family said in a statement today: “The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”
Rickman, who was born into a working-class family in London, began his acting career on the stage before graduating to Hollywood films.
He became one of the best-known villains in showbiz – appearing as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films.
The actor’s other well-known films include Truly, Madly, Deeply, Sense and Sensibility and Love Actually, in which he played the wife of his frequent collaborator Emma Thompson.
Several fans mentioned that Rickman’s death came just a few days after that of David Bowie, who also died aged 69 after secretly fighting cancer.
Alan Rickman was one of the best-loved and most warmly admired British actors of the past 30 years.
The actor and director became a household name on the big screen after appearing to huge critical acclaim as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s sardonic adversary, in Die Hard.
All through his 30-year career, he transcended both romantic and villainous characters, including in Truly Madly Deeply and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in which he played the Sheriff of Nottingham.