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Sir Anthony Quayle, the actor-director who built Stratford-upon-Avon into a center of British theater, died Friday at his home. He was 76.

Quayle had been suffering from cancer for several weeks, said his agent, Laurence Evans.A versatile classical actor who created a memorable "Falstaff" at Stratford in 1951, Quayle had been in the theater nearly 40 years before tasting box office success with his role in "Sleuth" in London and New York in 1970.

His distinguished film credits including Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man," "The Guns of Navarone," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Anne of a Thousand Days," which brought him an Academy Award nomination for his role as Cardinal Wolsey.

In 1985, Quayle joined the distinguished company of actor-knights that has included Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, John Mills and, most recently, Rex Harrison.

He became director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theater in Stratford in 1948, appearing that first season as Petruchio in "The Taming of the Shrew."

He secured the theater's reputation by luring Olivier, Richardson, Gielgud and other top names to Stratford, where they were paid minimum wages.

"You have to set an example - a merry example, I hope," Quayle said of his time at Stratford, which continued until 1956.

"Sleuth," a smash hit in London and New York in 1970, was Quayle's first taste of box-office success.

He said at the time that he had always had to supplement his stage income with work in television and films. "I was in the Tarzan films, and `Fall of the Roman Empire,' and one dreary thing after another," he said.

During World War II, Quayle served in the Royal Artillery and spent six months organizing partisan guerrilla forces behind German lines in Albania.