(JTA) — Harold Pinter, a Nobel Prize-winning British playwright, has died at the age of 78.
Pinter was called "the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century," by the Nobel committee which awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Pinter, who was too ill to travel to the Nobel Ceremony to claim his prize, died Wednesday.
Pinter, the son of a Jewish tailor, was born in East London. He claimed his father’s family was Hungarian Jews, but also of Portuguese descent, which he claimed was the reason for his explosive personality, according to the London Times.
He began his career as an actor, performing in about 100 roles before the age of 30.
He wrote his first play, The Room, in 1957. His well-known works include "The Birthday Party," "The Homecoming," "No Man’s Land," "Mountain Language," and "Celebration."
His movie credits include "The Quiller Memorandum" and "The French Lieutenant’s Woman."
Pinter, who refused to do national service in Britain in 1948, was a vociferous critic of the war in Iraq.
He used his pre-recorded Nobel lecture to denounce U.S. President George W. Bush and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," Pinter said. "How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?" he asked, in a hoarse voice.
He was married to actress Vivien Merchant, and had a so, Daniel, and is also survived by his second wife of 33 years, writer and historian Lady Antonia Fraser.