STARS of the screen and family members have paid tribute to Farnworth actor Frank Finlay.

The Oscar nominated star died aged 89 surrounded by his family at his home in Weybridge, Surrey after suffering from heart failure.

Widely respected in his profession, his family said he was 'renowned for his kindness and generosity', adding that his death was an 'inestimable loss to the acting world'.

Paying tribute to the former St Gregory the Great pupil, they said: "Goodbye to a wonderful father, loving grandfather and a damn fine actor. At home, very peacefully, surrounded by his family."

Two of his children, Daniel and Cathy, added: "Our dad was a magnificent actor — honest, uncompromisingly truthful, rigorous, fearless and funny. As a loving father and besotted grandpa, he held his family at the centre of his life. He and our mum, Doreen, had a long and happy marriage and together they loved and looked after us all. We are all immensely proud of him."

His grandson Josh Coombes, a drummer with the band Tigress, added: "RIP my grandfather Frank Finlay CBE. Funny, loving, amazing storyteller, inspiration and one of the best actors this country has ever seen."

Mr Finlay was a former member of Farnworth Little Theatre, where he began his acting career in plays including Miranda, Trespass, Casanova and Bouquet of Barbed Wire.

Norman Pickles, the group's current president, appeared alongside him in Miranda in 1951, and remembered him as a perfectionist with his craft.

Born in 1926, Mr Finlay left school at the age of 14 and worked as a butchers apprentice at the family firm, Toppings, in Albert Road.

He landed his first professional role in Scotland in 1951, and won a scholarship to London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He did not appear in the West End until he was 31, and after making a series of acclaimed performances in various plays was invited to join Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company.

He starred opposite the legendary actor in Othello before reprising his role on the big screen, for which he was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Iago in the 1965 film.

Mr Finlay met his wife Doreen while they were both members of the Farnworth Little Theatre. She died in 2005, aged 79.

He was awarded the CBE in the 1984 New Year's Honours list, receiving the honour from the Queen, and was also given an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton in 2009.

More recently, he featured in Roman Polanski's film The Pianist, which won three Oscars.

Stars who shared the stage with him and paid tribute have included Sir Roger Moore, David Essex and Colin Baker.