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The Stratford Festival says it is mourning the loss of a “rare artist” and one of its pioneers, Douglas Rain, who died at the age of 90 on Sunday morning.

“Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development,” the festival’s artistic director, Antoni Cimolino, said in a press release Sunday.

“Douglas Rain was that rare artist: an actor deeply admired by other actors.”

The festival said Rain died of natural causes in Stratford, Ont., where he built his career as an actor.

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Douglas Rain is shown as Henry V in the Stratford Festival's 1966 production of Henry V.Peter Smith/The Canadian Press

Before his death, Rain was one of few surviving members who founded the company in 1952, the festival said. He performed at the theatre for 32 years between 1953 and 1998, becoming one of its “most respected leading men,” it said.

Rain played a range of roles at the theatre including Malvolio in “Twelfth Night”, the title role in “King John” and Prince Hal in “Henry IV, Part 1.”

The festival said Rain “made an indelible mark on popular culture” as the voice of the computer, known as Hal 9000, in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Douglas shared many of the same qualities as Kubrick’s iconic creation: precision, strength of steel, enigma and infinite intelligence, as well as a wicked sense of humour,” said Cimolino.

“But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the centre of his mystery lay warmth and humanity, evidenced in his care for the young members of our profession.”

Rain, who was born in Winnipeg, Man., in 1928, started performing radio plays as a child actor on CBC radio and he did voice-over work for the National Film Board of Canada, according to the theatre company.

It also said Rain performed at theatres and festivals all over Canada and he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1972 for his role as William Cecil in “Vivat! Vivat! Regina!”

The theatre company said he is survived by his two sons, daughter, granddaughter and daughter-in-law.

Cimolino said the festival will be dedicating its upcoming production of “Othello” to Rain’s memory.

“Douglas dedicated his talent to the stages of his native land,” said Cimolino. “We owe him so much.”

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