He was born in Morley, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Ellen (née O’Donnell) and Arthur Bedford. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1952 to 1954. As a stage actor, he was well known for his English-speaking interpretations of the French playwright Molière, including Tony Award nominated performances in Tartuffe, The Molière Comedies and The School for Wives, for which he received the Tony Award.
He was a great Shakespearean actor, most notable for his role as Ariel in The Tempest. Angelo in Measure for Measure at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1975 and 1976, andThe Public Theater’s New York Shakespeare Festival Shakespeare in the Park productions of As You Like It (as Orlando), and Timon of Athens (as Timon), the latter based on a production he originated with the National Actors Theatre in 1993 and which he eventually played on Broadway.
He would appear with James Garner in the 1966 film Grand Prix, and in 1967 he was a regular on the short-lived CBS television series Coronet Blue He provided the voice for the main character in Disney’s Robin Hood in 1973.
In 1997 he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In 2009, Bedford starred as “Lady Bracknell” in The Importance of Being Earnest, marking 27 seasons of acting and/or directing, at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.
He was married to fellow actor Tim MacDonald for 30 years. Sadly, after a battle with cancer he passed away on January 13, 2016 in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 80.