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01/18/2013 02:19 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2013

Fernando Guillén Dead: Spanish Actor Dies At 80 After Fighting Long Time Illness (VIDEOS)

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Spanish actor Fernando Guillén died Thursday in Madrid at 80, reported the Spanish Film Academy in a statement.

In his youth Guillén abandoned his law studies to pursue a career in theater, where he became one of the most sought-after leading men in television in the fifties and sixties. He participated in more than one hundred Spanish films, and married Gemma Cuervo, with whom he had three children: Fernando, Cayetana and Natalia.

The actor had been suffering from an undisclosed illness for years. Spain's La Vanguardia reported that Guillén died of cancer, citing unnamed film industry sources.

One of his first opportunities in film would come from Fernando Fernán Gómez, who gave him the role of Rafael in "El Mundo Sigue." In the eighties, he found his place in the film industry by acting in movies like "El Caso Almería" and "El Pico 2." With director Pedro Almodóvar he shot "Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque Nervioso," "La Ley del Deseo" and "Todo Sobre Mi Madre."

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Fernando Guillén's Film Work

His last appearance on the big screen was next to Asunción Balaguer in the short film "Luisa No Está en Casa.”

He was nominated to the Goya award three times and won the Best Starring Male Actor award in 1991 for "Don Juan en los Infiernos." The actor also received the Cinema Writers Circle Medal of Honor, the Sant Jordi award, and the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, among others. At the same time he developed an extensive career in television.

Guillén, who "didn’t consider himself a shining star, but a good actor," announced his retirement from the theater in 2008 to focus on other work.

The funeral of who was considered "one of the greatest" in the history of Spanish cinema is expected to take place on Friday in Madrid.

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