Sir Ian McKellen was born 25th May 1939 in Burnley and was raised in nearby Wigan. His parents took him to the theatre and encouraged his interest in the theatre and in acting. He performed in many school plays and began attending theatre festivals in places such as Stratford-upon-Avon. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1961 and began his career in the theatre. His career has focused mainly in theatre but he has become well known in films and has made many television appearances over the years. He is most recently famed for his roles as Gandalf the White in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Magneto in the X-Men films but his Shakespearean performances are a wonder to behold. Early in his career, he came out and became open about his homosexuality, very courageous at the time, and has been active in gay rights organisations ever since.