Tony Nominee Douglas Rain, Star of Stage and Screen, Dies at 90

A regular and founding member of the Stratford Festival in Ontario, he is best known to many as the voice of HAL 9000 in ”2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Douglas Rain, Canadian star of stage and screen, has died at age 90.
Douglas Rain, Canadian star of stage and screen, has died at age 90.
(© Terry Manzo)

Douglas Rain, the revered and prolific Canadian classical stage actor, died Sunday of natural causes at St. Marys Memorial Hospital. He was 90.

Born in Winnipeg in 1928 to James and Mary Rain, Douglas Rain started young as an actor, lending his voice to CBC radio. After attending the University of Manitoba, he went to London to study at the Old Vic Theatre School. Upon returning to Canada, he played the Marquis of Dorset and Tyrrell in Richard III during the inaugural season of the Stratford Festival in 1953, a festival he helped found; he also understudied for Alec Guinness in the title role.

Thus began a 32-year association with the festival, in which he'd take on a wide range of roles including Iago in Othello, the Stage Manager in Our Town, and Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1, among many others.

Rain also performed across Canada and the UK, and even acted on Broadway on a handful of occasions, earning a Tony nomination for his role as William Cecil in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat Regina! in 1972.

For all his stage work, though, he is perhaps best known for voicing the HAL 9000 computer in Stanley Kubrick's classic 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, a role he would revisit for Peter Hyams's 1984 sequel 2010: The Year We Made Contact.

He is survived by his two sons, David and Adam, from his first wife Lois Shaw; his daughter Emma from second wife Martha Henry; his granddaughter Salima; and his daughter-in-law Asira.