Alex McCowen in ‘Frenzy’

Alec McCowen, the English actor who portrayed the chief inspector investigating the ‘Necktie Murders’ in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy,  has died aged 91.

His death was reported by The Guardian.

In the film his investigation leads to the arrest of the wrong man, Richard Blaney (played by Jon Finch), whilst the real murderer Robert Rusk (played by Barry Foster) is still at large. McCowen famously speaks the last line of the film.

His film career began in the 1953 drama The Cruel Sea, directed by Charles Frend, where he portrayed a seaman as part of the Royal Navy. In the 1958 Roy Ward Baker film A Night to Remember, he was the real-life RMS Carpathia wireless operator Harold Cottam, who received the distress signal from the Titanic.

During the 1960s he acted in Tony Richardson’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962),  In The Cool of the Day (1963) opposite Peter Finch, Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury, and the horror film  The Witches (1966) where he portrayed the wealthy owner of a small private school who hires a schoolteacher (played by Joan Fontaine).

He received a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination in Travels with My Aunt (1972) as the retired London bank manager who journeys across Europe with his Aunt (played by Maggie Smith).

Alec McCowen in ‘Never Say Never Again’

In the James Bond film Never Say Never (1983),  he was the character Q who heads up the Q-Branch.  Sean Connery reveals his name to be Algernon during the film.   The film was one of the few Bond films not produced by Eon Production

Director Martin Scorsese hired him for two films.  Firstly as Sillerton Jackson, the expert on the families that make up New York society in The Age of Innocence (1993) and  as Reverend Raleigh in the Oscar nominated film Gangs of New York (2002).
It was his last film appearance.

Alec McCowen in ‘Gangs of New York’