He went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and began his career on stage with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, before breaking into movies in 1960 with two films directed by Tony Richardson - The Entertainer and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
Finney was the third choice, after Oscar winners Alec Guinness and Paul Scofield, to play scrupulously vain detective Hercule Poirot in Sidney Lumet's sumptuous, all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel based on the Lindbergh kidnapping, but played the role with such relish that he was nominated for Best Actor.
"Apart from being effortlessly great he was also a great all-round example of how to behave", he tweeted.
Another one of his best films would have to be Tim Burton's fantasy-drama titled "Big Fish" that came out in 2003, in which he played alongside such stars as Ewan McGregor and Jessica Lange.
Finney appeared and sang in "Scrooge" (1970) and "Annie" (1982), in which he played tycoon Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks. Finney criticized the idea of knighting citizens, saying, "I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery". Still, Finney declined to attend the Academy Awards ceremony - possibly damaging his chances at future wins by snubbing Hollywood's elite. Though that would be the only time he got behind the camera, Finney also used his clout as an uncredited producer on films like Privilege, Burning, and If.
He's survived by his wife Pene and son Simon.
Funeral arrangements for Finney have not been released yet.
Finney also continued to make regular stage appearances throughout his career, including A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in 1968, Krapp'sLast Tape in 1973 and the 1984 revival of Sergeant Musgrave's Dance at the Old Vic.