Edward Woodward

Edward Woodward, who had a long career on stage and in movies but is probably best remembered for the TV series The Equalizer, died Monday at 79.

His agent, Janet Glass, said he had been ill for several months and died in a hospital in Truro, England, with family members around him.

In a statement, Glass said he sustained a "brave spirit and wonderful humor" throughout his illness.

Woodward won a Golden Globe and received five Emmy nominations for his star turn in The Equalizer, which ran on CBS from 1985 to '89. The British actor, who had a heart attack during the series, played an ex-spy who helped regular people even the odds against anyone with whom they had a problem.

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Earlier, he forged a career as a Shakespearean actor and showed his on-stage range by performing musical comedy so well that Noel Coward praised his work.

In films, he starred in 1973's occult thriller The Wicker Man (remade by Neil LaBute in 2006, starring Nicolas Cage) and quite memorably filled the title role in 1980's Breaker Morant, playing a soldier who's made a scapegoat and court-martialed during the Boer War.

Simon Pegg, a big fan who cast him in his 2007 film Hot Fuzz, said on Twitter: "So sorry to hear we have lost the great Edward Woodward. Feel lucky to have worked with him."

While The Equalizer made Woodward a star in the United States, he had been a longtime stalwart of British television. His appearances included a turn in the Evelyn Waugh trilogy Sword of Honour in the 1960s and a role earlier this year in the BBC soap EastEnders.

He told The Associated Press in 1987 he had appeared in "over 2,000, could be 3,000 now, television productions." He added: "I love television. To me it's the most exciting medium."

Woodward had three children with first wife Venetia. After they divorced, he wed actress Michele Dotrice, and they had a daughter. Survivors include his children and Dotrice.