It falls on few to upstage cartoon characters. But Bob Hoskins did it so well in 1987's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he consigned himself to a place in hearts around the world.
It also didn't harm his career as an actor. Ten years later he had built such an impressive list of screen credits that he was ranked 97 in Empire magazine's ''The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time'' list. This week, Hoskins, 69, announced he would cut short his career after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
His London representatives released a statement on Thursday announcing his retirement: ''Bob Hoskins wishes to announce that he will be retiring from acting, following his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease last autumn. He wishes to thank all the great and brilliant people he has worked with over the years, and all of his fans who have supported him during a wonderful career. Bob is now looking forward to his retirement with his family, and would greatly appreciate that his privacy be respected at this time.''
Parkinson's disease is an incurable, degenerative neurological disorder whose sufferers include actor Michael J. Fox, former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and former New Zealand mile world record holder John Walker.
Hoskins, who has Romani ancestry, took up acting in his mid-20s after leading a peripatetic life that including herding camels in Syria and fire-eating in a circus. His initial performances were with London's Unity Theatre but he then went to the provinces, mostly notably the experimental Studio Theatre company in Stoke where he cut his teeth before heading for London for the West End, television and films.
Hoskins became known for playing Cockneys, and assorted spivs and crims, some with surprising but deeply buried sensitive golden hearts.
Performances in British films such as The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa won critical praise. His portrayal of a conflicted driver of a prostitute in Mona Lisa won a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
He also delivered comic turns in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, and in 1987 moved away from arthouse/edgy fare into mainstream laughs with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Then came Mermaids and Hook. Such successes allowed him to make his own films, most notably The Raggedy Rawney, a 1988 paean to his gypsy origins made in the afterglow of Roger Rabbit.