TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (16)
|Also Known As:||Died:||April 25, 1972|
|Born:||July 3, 1906||Cause of Death:||overdose of sleeping pills|
|Birth Place:||Russia||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
ool¿s Day 1954, at which time Sanders quipped "I have been cast aside like a squeezed lemon."
While still married to Gabor, Sanders enjoyed his finest film role then to date, as acidic theatrical critic Addison DeWitt in Joseph L. Mankiewicz¿s show business exposé "All About Eve" (1950). Though the part had been intended for Jose Ferrer, the epicene DeWitt seemed bespoke for Sanders and a natural extension of characters he had played previously. In addition to stealing the film from stars Bette Davis and Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe (in an early role as DeWitt¿s bubble-headed escort), Sanders won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Despite the career tentpole represented by "All About Eve," Sanders was reportedly depressed and withdrawn throughout production, often communicating in monosyllables if not retreating into outright silence; director Mankiewicz related in later years that he had been forced to prod a performance out of the reticent Sanders. During this time, the actor grew increasingly neurotic about his finances and paying income tax. He began to invest his savings in dodgy tax shelter opportunities while accepting more and more assignments that would bring him overseas for work and out of the jurisdiction of the Internal Revenue Service.
Sanders traveled to England to oppose knight Robert Taylor in MGM¿s Technicolor "Ivanhoe" (1953) and to Naples and Rome to play Ingrid Bergman¿s alcoholic husband in Roberto Rossellini¿s "Viaggio in Italia" (1954). Back in the States, he was the aristocratic villain of Fritz Lang¿s Gothic swashbuckler "Moonfleet" (1955); in Lang¿s follow-up, "While the City Sleeps" (1956), he played an opportunistic newsman who sees in the predations of a serial killer an opportunity for career advancement. After 1955, Sanders began to appear regularly on episodic television and, in 1957, he hosted "The George Sanders Mystery Theatre," which ran for 13 episodes on NBC before its cancellation. In 1958, he released a novelty album of standards on the ABE-Paramount Records label titled The George Sanders Touch: Songs for the Lovely Lady. Though he signed on for Joshua Logan¿s big screen adaptation of the Broadway hit "South Pacific," a fit of nerves prompted him to back out of the deal. The following year, he married actor Ronald Colman¿s widow, Benita Hume. In 1960, Sanders published his autobiography, titled Memoirs of a Professional Cad.
Sanders brought a disarmingly sincere performance to Wolf Rolla¿s "Village of the Damned" (1960), as one of several parents who learn their offspring are hyper-intelligent but malevolent alien entities. He was up to his dastardly tricks again as ladykiller Henri Landru in W. Lee Wilder¿s "Bluebeard¿s Ten Honeymoons" (1960) and played a traitorous gunrunner bedeviling virginal heroine Hayley Mills in Walt Disney¿s picaresque "In Search of the Castaways" (1962). Third-billed in "A Shot in the Dark" (1964), first of several sequels to Blake Edwards¿ 1963 caper comedy "The Pink Panther," Sanders enjoyed his bid as an aristocratic red herring and he brought trademark elegance to the role of a British Intelligence higher-up who points spy George Segal toward intrigue aplenty in Michael Anderson¿s espionage thriller "The Quiller Memorandum" (1966). That same year, he appeared as supervillain Mr. Freeze in two episodes of "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68), a role he later turned over to Otto Preminger, who had directed him in "Forever Amber" (1947) and "The Fan" (1949) back at Fox.
In 1967, Sanders older brother Tom Conway, who had fallen onto hard times, died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 63. That year, Sanders provided the voice of the villainous tiger Shere Khan in Disney¿s "The Jungle Book." He was preparing to return to Broadway as the persnickety radio host Sheridan Whiteside in "Sherry!," a musical adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart¿s "The Man Who Came to Dinner" when Benita Hume was diagnosed with cancer and he was allowed by the producers to withdraw. Following Hume¿s death in 1969, a despondent Sanders was set up by ex-wife Zsa Zsa Gabor with her older sister, Magda, who had recently been rendered aphasic by a debilitating stroke. The marriage lasted only six weeks before being annulled. That same year, Sanders contributed the strangest performance of his career, appearing in drag as a homosexual spy in John Huston¿s labyrinthine espionage thriller "The Kremlin Letter" (1970). Felled himself by a stroke, which left him reliant on a cane and able to deliver dialogue only with great difficulty, Sanders grew dependent on painkillers and alcohol. His final film role was as a Satanic manservant in "Psychomania" (1971), a living dead thriller that afforded him a climactic last laugh, if not much in the way of dignity.
Having famously denigrated the craft of acting throughout much of his long and varied career, Sanders was humbled suddenly by his physical inability to earn even a basic living at it. After selling the home in Majorca, Spain that he had bought with Hume, Sanders checked into a hotel in Castelldefels, a coastal town in Barcelona, on April 23, 1972. Two days later, the 65-year-old actor was found dead of an overdose of Nembutal, having left behind two suicide notes ¿ one to his sister and another inscribed "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck." A decade after Sanders¿ suicide, friend and fellow actor Brian Aherne published the remembrance A Dreadful Man: The Story of Hollywood¿s Most Original Cad, George Sanders while 1990 saw the release of the definitive biography George Sanders: An Exhausted Life by Richard Vanderbeets.
By Richard Harland Smithcolor "The Black Swan" (1942), Sanders donned a red beard and wig to play a cutthroat who defies pirate cohorts Tyrone Power and Laird Cregar. The effete Sanders was paired twice more with the dour, heavyset Cregar in "The Lodger" (1944), a psychological thriller adapted freely from the novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, and "Hangover Square" (1945), in which Sanders¿ coolly efficient Scotland Yard clinician deduces that hot-tempered composer Cregar is a serial killer. As Oscar Wilde¿s aphorism-spouting Lord Henry Wotton, Sanders stole Albert Lewin¿s "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) from star Hurd Hatfield and in Joseph L. Mankiewicz¿s "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947) he attempted to pry comely widow Gene Tierney from the embrace of deceased ship captain Rex Harrison. Sanders took the lead in Lewin¿s "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" (1947), as a cad clawing his way through Paris society, but was third-billed yet again in Cecil B. De Mille¿s Technicolor epic "Samson and Delilah" (1949), as the cruel Saran of Gaza, whose Philistine temple Victor Mature pulls down out of love for God and Hedy Lamarr.
Having married for the first time in 1940, Sanders divorced in 1949 to take up with former Miss Budapest Zsa Zsa Gabor, who had emigrated from Hungary with her sisters Magda and Eva in 1941. Gabor had divorced hotel magnate Conrad Hilton 18 months earlier and was then drawing a not inconsiderable alimony of $40,000 a year while she attempted to establish herself as an actress in Hollywood. Sanders and Gabor were married on April 2, 1949, at the Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, NV. Though the pair made for a handsome and often photographed couple, the union was a stormy one. A well-publicized story had Sanders suspecting Gabor of infidelity with handsome Dominican diplomat Porfino Rubirosa and hiring a private detective and a photographer to catch the pair in bed together on Christmas Eve. The couple separated at last in October 1953. Sanders filed for divorce in November, citing mental cruelty as the cause, while Gabor countersued, accusing her husband of inflicting severe mental distress and anguish. The divorce was finalized on April F
albatros1 ( 2007-09-27 )
Source: Wikipedia The Internet Encyclopedia
George Sanders (July 3, 1906 – April 25, 1972) was an Academy Award-winning English film and television actor. Sanders was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, of British parents. In 1917, when he was eleven, the family returned to Britain on the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and, like his brother, he attended Brighton College, a boys' independent school in Brighton. After graduation he worked at an advertising agency. It was there that the company secretary, an aspiring actress named Greer Garson, suggested a career in acting. His older brother, Tom Conway, was also an actor, to whom Sanders later handed over the role of "The Falcon". He made his British film debut in 1934 and after a series of British films made his American debut in 1936 with a role in Lloyd's of London. His British accent and sensibilities, combined with his suave, snobbish and somewhat menacing air were utilised in American films during the next decade. He played supporting roles in prestige productions such as Rebecca, in which he goaded the sinister Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers, in her persecution of Joan Fontaine. He also played leading roles in lesser pictures such as Rage in Heaven. During this time he was also the lead in both The Falcon and The Saint film series. He played Lord Henry Wotton in a film version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. In 1947 he co-starred with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. In 1950 he gave his most widely recognised performance and achieved his greatest success as the acid-tongued, cold-blooded theatre critic Addison DeWitt in All About Eve, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. He moved into the field of television and was responsible for the successful series George Sanders Mystery Theatre. Sanders played an upper crust English villain in a 1965 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode. "The Gazebo in the Maze Affair". He also portrayed Mr. Freeze in two episodes of the 1960s live-action Batman TV series. Later, he provided the voice for the malevolent Shere Khan in the Walt Disney production of The Jungle Book. One of Sanders's final screen roles was in the 1972 feature film version of the popular television series Doomwatch. Sanders' smooth voice, urbane manner and upper-class British accent were the inspiration for the Peter Sellers' character "Hercules Grytpype-Thynne" in the famous BBC radio comedy series The Goon Show. Sellers and Sanders appeared together in the Pink Panther sequel, A Shot in the Dark. He was honoured with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for Motion Pictures at 1636 Vine St, and for Television at 7007 Hollywood Blvd. In popular culture, he is mentioned in The Kinks' song "Celluloid Heroes" and his ghost makes an appearance in Clive Barker's 2001 novel Coldheart Canyon. Sanders released an album entitled The George Sanders Touch: Songs for the Lovely Lady. He went to great lengths to get himself signed to sing in South Pacific, but was overwhelmed with anxiety over the role he quickly dropped out. Sanders' singing voice can be heard in Call Me Madam and The Jungle Book. 1946 saw the publication of the crime novel, Stranger at Home by George Sanders. In fact, this was published simply to cash in on his screen success; it was ghost-written by Leigh Brackett. In 1940, he married Susan Larson; the marriage ended in divorce in 1949. From 1949 until 1954, he was married to the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. Sanders was married to actress Benita Hume from 1959 until her death in 1967. His last wife was Magda Gabor, his second wife's sister; the marriage lasted a year. It was during this period that he completed his autobiography, Memoirs of a Professional Cad. Sanders committed suicide in Castelldefels (a coastal town near Barcelona, Catalonia) with an overdose of barbiturates, leaving behind a suicide note that attributed his action to boredom. His friend David Niven recorded in his autobiography that Sanders had predicted his own suicide many years earlier. The note read: "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."
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