Robert Newton was one of the great character actors — and great characters — of the British cinema, best remembered today for playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950) and its sequel for Walt Disney in the 1950s. His portrayal of Long John Silver and of Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952) created a persona that was so indelible that his vocal intonations created the paradigm for scores of people who want to “Talk Like a Pirate.” The performance overshadows Newton’s legacy, which is based on many first-rate performances in such movies as This Happy Breed (1944), Odd Man Out (1947) and Oliver Twist (1948), where his Bill Sykes is truly chilling. Oliver Reed, who played Sykes in the Oscar-winning movie musical Oliver! (1968) was influenced by Newton.
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