ohn Anthony Bell, Shakespearean actor and theatrical director, was born in Sydney in 1940.
John graduated with honours in English literature from Sydney University.
He first appeared professionally as an actor in 1963 with the Old Tote Theatre Company, one role he played being Hamlet.
He was awarded a British Council scholarship to study at the Old Vic drama school in England in 1964. Shortly afterwards he was offered a position by an experimental group set up by the Royal Shakespeare company at Stratford. He became an associate artist but his artistic ambition was frustrated and he returned to Sydney.
In 1970 he founded the Nimrod Theatre with Ken Horler and as director between 1971 and 1986 he directed Australian works including The Club, The Removalists, both written by David Williamson, and classics such as Romeo And Juliet and Candide.
He continued to act, taking the leads in Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard III and Uncle Vanya.
A major disappointment to him was the failure of Manning Clark's History Of Australia - The Musical.
In 1990, with help of a major business donation, he set up the Bell Shakespeare Company, with which he hoped to deliver Shakespeare to major Australian venues.