Louis Mahoney obituary: Death of Hampstead icon and passionate antiracist marks ‘end of an era’ in NW3
PUBLISHED: 13:03 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:38 06 July 2020
One of the first Black members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a rare non-white face in 1970s Doctor Who, a go-to guest star in shows like Holby City and Doctors.
Louis Mahoney was all of these, but for NW3’s cafe and pub-dwellers, he was more memorable as a “great Hampstead character” and one of the last remaining reminders of the village’s unique atmosphere.
Louis died aged 81 on June 28. He was born in Gambia, but had been “part of Hampstead’s furniture” according to Rex Cowan, who had known him for more than half a century.
Rex paid tribute to his friend, telling the Ham&High: “I knew him when he first arrived from Gambia as a keen medical student. Friends come and go, but Louis was like a fine madeira cake – good almost all the way through and his death means that something sweet is now missing from all those Hampstead places where so much art and literature and politics has found fertile ground.”
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Photographer Gordon Hawtin remembered his friend as a “character” who had a fondness for an anecdote. He said: “He once told me in the early 1960s he met Mick Jagger before he was in the Rolling Stones and Louis was a bit of a musician, and he could have been one of the Rolling Stones. I think that could have been a bit of artistic licence.”
Rex also paid tribute to Louis’ antiracism work. He said: “He worked and campaigned against racism, and the rights of young and black actors – becoming a vice president of equity, he gave us pleasure in his actor roles, and he knew when friends and neighbours needed help.
“He never complained about the vicissitudes of the actors profession or his long illness. Farewell dear friend, like you I wish there was a heaven.”
Hampstead Village Voice publisher Sebastian Wocker, who knew Louis from his own childhood onwards, said: “He was a much-loved part of life in Hampstead from the 1970s to today, and his death feels like the end of an era.”
Showbiz agents Waring and McKenna paid tribute to “wonderful” Louis, a long-term client, while the Doctor Who production team were also among those to send condolences after his death was announced.
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