Actor and singer
Michael Praed was born Michael David Prince on April 1, 1960 in
Gloucestershire to Derrick and Kay Prince. The couple had one
older child at the time, a girl they named Hilary. Michael spent his
babyhood in his birthplace, Berkeley.
When Michael was
two, Derrick Prince accepted a position as an accountant for an
oil consortium in Iran. The family moved to Abadan,
a city built where the Tigress and Euphrates Rivers form an island.
While there, Michael's younger brother Richard was
born. Michael learned to converse in Farsi
along with English in order to speak with his strict, but
loving. Iranian nanny.
Once he reached
school age, young Michael attended an Anglo-American primary
school built for the children of English and American employees
of the oil conglomerate. The school only accepted children up
to the age of eight. Older students had to be sent to
boarding schools. Michael was sent to England to attend Ascham Preparatory School in
East Sussex, an Edwardian resort city on the English Channel famous for its white chalk cliffs.
a excruciating experience for Michael. Harsh physical punishment, legal
at the time, left him abused and vulnerable.
age of 13,
Michael went on to
(roughly the equivalent of an American high school, despite its
Two years behind
Michael at Eastbourne College was fellow future entertainer Eddie Izzard. Other Old Eastbournians include Lionel Wilmot Brabazon Rees (famed WWI pilot
and winner of the Victoria Cross), retired BBC meteorologist
Michael Fish, David Usborne (correspondent for 'The Independent'
in New York), and artists Michael J. Clark, Sara Hill, and Paul David Manktelow.
Edward Speleers, another Eastbournian actor, was selected to
hotly-contested title role in Christopher Paolini's fantasy film 'Eragon',
released in 2006.
involved strict discipline and a military regimen, complete with
forced marches. The discipline wasn't something Michael
enjoyed. In fact, he loathed it, but he said it did help
him develop the self-control necessary to maintain a
professional career later.
Michael was far more interested in
extracurricular activities than academics. He thoroughly
enjoyed sports. One surprisingly useful sport Michael learned in
school was fencing, a skill which served him well in his future
career. Music was his first love, and he sang
in the school's choir. Michael also discovered school
plays, where his masters encouraged him to use his impressive
tenor singing voice and blossoming acting talent.
photographs of Michael Praed as a teenager
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince
©1996 MPNN - © 2005
At the age of 16
Michael took his O-level exams to determine whether
he could go on to a college or university. Michael did well, and
then had to choose between a livelihood in the Arts or Sciences.
said "It was
then I remembered my father's salient words of advice, which
were, 'It doesn't matter what you do for a living, Michael, as
long as you pick a profession you absolutely think you're going
to enjoy.' My dad was an accountant, and I think what he was
guardedly telling me, although I never quizzed him about it,
was, 'I wish I had been anything but an accountant.' So I
thought, 'Okay, what do I really love?' and the answer was
In 1978 Michael Praed attended the prestigious
Guildhall School of
Music and Drama in London. Guildhall alumni include Joseph Fiennes, Claire Bloom, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Sir James Galway, Dame Eileen Atkins, Jacqueline du Prť,
and Sir George Martin.
impressed the Guildhall with his musical abilities early,
composing music for the student show 'Mac and Beth' his second year
there. Masters tried to get him to switch from drama to
music, specifically opera. Michael resisted, doubting he
had the vocal range for the genre. Alongside his methods
classes, he was learning theatre-craft by the straightforward
technique of doing it. He received his Actor's Equity card
while still attending drama school. Michael left the
before his final year.
Michael's professional career began in July of 1980 at the
Haymarket Theatre in Leicester. He starred as Jesus in the
musical 'Godspell'. This role was followed by the
role of Tom in yet another musical, 'The Knack', also at the
Haymarket. By the fall of 1980 the twenty year old
itinerant actor was to be found treading the boards at the
Nuffield Theatre, Southampton. Starting out with a new
company, he had the less significant role a fairy in 'The Tempest'.
The next year, 1981, found Michael taking the role of
Idle Jack in
'Beauty and the Beast' before putting his musical gifts back
to work, serving as musical director and composing music for
the company's production of 'The Servant of Two Masters'.
Portraying a gangster in 'The Resistible
Rise and Fall of Arturo Ui' followed.
In his last performance at the Nuffield Theatre,
Southampton, Michael starred as Eddie
in 'Leave Him To Heaven', a musical
structured around 1950s rock 'n roll songs.
For the Christmas holidays, Michael originated the role of Gabriel with
rising star Maria
Friedman as Mary in the musical "Rock Star"
at the Civic Theatre in Chesterfield.
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince
© 2005 Fanfare
'The Pirates of Penzance'
with Tim Curry and Sylvester
©1982 Photo by ZoŽ Dominic for Dewynters Ltd
'Robin of Sherwood'
as Robin of Loxely
©1983 HTV Goldcrest Films and TV
Michael Praed's first London appearance was in the lead role of
Frederick in Joe Papp's West End original cast production of
'The Pirates of Penzance' with Tim Curry as the Pirate King.
Also in the production were Pamela Stephenson, Sylvester McCoy,
Bonnie Langford, and Louise Gold. Marking the centenary of
the show's debut, May 26, 1982, the operetta ran for a year.
and the cast performed Tarantara in 'The Royal Variety
Performance' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on November 8. 1982.
Michael also began
making television guest appearances, using both acting and
singing talents. Some of the shows involved were: 'The Gentle
Touch', 'The Rothko Conspiracy', 'The Professionals', 'Live from
Her Majestyís', 'The Entertainers', 'Give Us a Clue', and 'The Hot Shoe Show'.
as TDC Rogers
©1982 LWT / ITV.
as a terrorist
LWT / ITV
Playing opposite West End legend Elaine Paige, Michael originated the role of
Aladdin in "Abbacadabra", a fairytale musical, the first using
compositions by Abba. Also in the cast was lovely actress
Finola Hughes, whom Michael met on a blind date set up by their
agent. The two began a relationship that lasted for seven
Writer Richard Carpenter and producer Paul Knight
Michael as the swashbuckling hero of 'The Pirates of Penzance'
while first coming up with the concept of a new Robin Hood
television series with a mystical perspective. They decided
Michael had all the qualities they were looking for in Robin Hood:
good-looks, athleticism, and an otherworldly air. 'Robin Of
Sherwood' first aired on April 28, 1984 on HTV, Michael starring
as Robin of Loxley in the title role. With its fine ensemble
acting from a talented cast, the show became the best-selling
British television series ever produced. Michael Praed became an
immediate sensation and was besieged by fans. Its format,
(handheld cameras, quick cuts, dramatic lighting, Celtic music,
realistic medieval sets and costumes) established by Knight and
director Ian Sharp, influenced movie-makers such as George
Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Kevin Costner. In the
US, it won the prestigious Jampton Award for 'Excellence in
Television and Cable'. The series was shown round the world and
gained devoted fans in 55 countries. Twenty years later, fan
clubs for the series and its actors are still going strong.
Michael left at the end of the second
series of three. He left to take the role D'Artagnon on
Broadway. He was succeeded by Jason Connery in the role of
Robert of Huntingdon.
'The Three Musketeers' a Ziegfeld musical revival at the
Broadway Theatre in New York, was beset with problems despite
having actors with solid talent such as Michael, Chuck Wagner,
Brent Spiner, Ron Taylor, Liz Callaway, and direction by Joe
Layton. The lavish show closed after nine performances.
Aaron Spelling, producer of 'Dynasty', the nighttime soap
that was the most-watched television show on the planet at the
time, cast Michael Praed as Prince Michael of Moldavia. Michael
'survived' the infamous "Moldavian Massacre", the commando raid
that disrupted the prince's wedding, but left the glamorous cast
after a year.
Michael's next project was the
film 'Nightflyers', vaguely based on George R.R. Martin's award
winning novella of the same name. The movie was panned, with
poor script adaptation and weak special effects cited as the
primary reasons. However, Michael made enough money from
the proceeds to build his dream recording studio in the garage
of his Los Angeles home. Disenchanted with acting, he decided to
try his hand at creating music. Michael spent the next couple years
composing, then producing what eventually
became his privately produced album 'For My Friends'.
'The Three Musketeers'
©1985 ABC Inc.
as Royd Erris
©1987 The Vista Organization Partnership