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Dirk Bogarde

Dirk Bogarde

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Also Known As: Sir Dirk Bogarde, Dirk Van Den Bogaerde, Derek Niven Van Den Bogaerde Died: May 8, 1999
Born: March 28, 1921 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Hampstead, England, GB Profession: actor, author, scenic designer, commercial artist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With the refinement of Britain⿿s national cinema after World War II came the rise of Dirk Bogarde as one of its shining stars. A former stage actor whom playwright Noël Coward begged not to forsake the theatre, Bogarde became a box office powerhouse with his charismatic performances as a cop killer in "The Blue Lamp" (1950) and as the medical school hero of "Doctor in the House" (1954). Equally adept at drama or comedy, Bogarde attracted the attention of Hollywood but his star turn as composer Franz Liszt in "Song Without End" (1960) came close to being a career-killer. At home, Bogarde gambled on his reputation as a romantic lead by accepting edgy roles in films that hinted at his safeguarded homosexuality, among them the fetish Western "The Singer Not the Song" (1960), the courtroom drama "Victim" (1960), and "The Servant" (1963), with Bogarde cast as a scheming valet who manipulates his naive employer. Having worked with such top-flight directors as Basil Dearden, John Schlesinger and John Frankenheimer, and enjoyed a long-running collaboration with American expatriate Joseph Losey, Bogarde capped his career on the Continent, making films in Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, and France for...

With the refinement of Britain⿿s national cinema after World War II came the rise of Dirk Bogarde as one of its shining stars. A former stage actor whom playwright Noël Coward begged not to forsake the theatre, Bogarde became a box office powerhouse with his charismatic performances as a cop killer in "The Blue Lamp" (1950) and as the medical school hero of "Doctor in the House" (1954). Equally adept at drama or comedy, Bogarde attracted the attention of Hollywood but his star turn as composer Franz Liszt in "Song Without End" (1960) came close to being a career-killer. At home, Bogarde gambled on his reputation as a romantic lead by accepting edgy roles in films that hinted at his safeguarded homosexuality, among them the fetish Western "The Singer Not the Song" (1960), the courtroom drama "Victim" (1960), and "The Servant" (1963), with Bogarde cast as a scheming valet who manipulates his naive employer. Having worked with such top-flight directors as Basil Dearden, John Schlesinger and John Frankenheimer, and enjoyed a long-running collaboration with American expatriate Joseph Losey, Bogarde capped his career on the Continent, making films in Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, and France for Luchino Visconti, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alain Renais, and Liliana Cavani. Felled by a stroke in 1996, Bogarde devoted his final years to finishing his memoirs, leaving behind at the time of his death in 1999 an admirable body of work and a detailed chronicle of a life lived entirely on his own terms.

Of Flemish, Dutch and Scottish descent, Dirk Bogarde was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde in West Hampton, London on March 28, 1921. Raised for the better part of his childhood in East Sussex, Bogarde and his sister were encouraged to play-act by their mother, a former actress whose own childhood had been spent traveling the provinces with her father, Scottish actor-artist Forrest Niven. While still a boy, Bogarde was introduced to family friend Lionel Cox, founder of the Newick Amateur Dramatic Society, with whom Bogarde made his stage debut in a production of R.C. Sherriffâ¿¿s World War I drama "Journeyâ¿¿s End." Educated at University College School in Hampstead and Allan Glenâ¿¿s School in Glasgow, Bogarde attended Londonâ¿¿s Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, but acting remained his passion. Though he auditioned successfully for the drama school of the esteemed Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, the outbreak of the Second World War prompted the Old Vicâ¿¿s temporary shuttering. Bogarde made his West End debut in 1939, as Derek Bogarde, in J. B. Priestleyâ¿¿s "Cornelius," but his career was put on hold when was called up for wartime service.

Joining the Queen⿿s Royal Regiment in 1943, Bogarde eventually reached the rank of captain while serving as an intelligence officer in both the European and Pacific theaters. He performed in a number of plays during the war, among them Patrick Hamilton⿿s "Rope" (later the source of the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film) and wrote and directed at least one musical revue in Java to lift the morale of British soldiers freed from Japanese captivity. Upon his demobilization, Bogarde sought work as a journalist but found a more welcome reception from the Reunion Theatre Association, a charitable concern rehabilitating British theatre actors in peacetime England. Billed as Dirk Bogarde for the first time, the 26-year-old actor was appearing in a production of "Power without Glory" that had the good fortune to be moved from the downmarket New Lindsey Theatre Club to the West End⿿s Fortune Theatre, where his performance was praised by no less than playwright Noël Coward. Bogarde was also invited to make a screen test for Gainsborough Pictures and soon found himself in possession of a contract with the J. Arthur Rank Organization. After recreating his performances in "Power without Glory" and "Rope" for British television, Bogarde made his feature film debut as a policeman in the quota quickie "Dancing with Crime" (1947), starring Richard Attenborough as a crime smashing cabbie.

Next, Bogarde replaced a Hollywood-bound Stewart Granger in "Sin of Esther Waters" (1948), playing a caddish Victorian footman who compromises the reputation of servant Kathleen Ryan. Enjoying his first prominent billing, Bogarde would never again have to settle for less. Though Coward had counseled him not to forsake the theatre for the hollow promise of films, Bogarde did just that, and swiftly racked up a string of charismatic performances, from the cop killer of "The Blue Lamp" (1950), to Jean Simmonsâ¿¿ hero in "So Long at the Fair" (1950), to calamity-prone medical student Simon Sparrow in "Doctor in the House" (1954), "Doctor at Sea" (1955), and "Doctor at Large" (1957). Bogarde turned his hand again to dastardy as a fortune hunter not averse to murder in "Cast a Dark Shadow" (1955) and was the conflicted Sidney Carlton in "A Tale of Two Cities" (1958), performances that solidified his standing as a major star of postwar British film.

A shot at Hollywood stardom playing composer Franz Liszt in Charles Vidor⿿s musical biopic "Song Without End" (1960) was short-circuited by the film⿿s failure at the box office, though Bogarde made a lifelong friend in co-star Capucine. Also poorly received was his jaw-dropping turn as a leather-clad gaucho in Roy Ward Baker⿿s "The Singer Not the Song" (1961), whose homoerotic overtones fueled rumors about the committed bachelor⿿s sexual orientation. Given the gossip about his private life, Bogarde risked his status as a reliable romantic lead by playing a closeted gay barrister in Basil Dearden⿿s "Victim" (1961), whose bid to bring down a blackmailer of homosexuals exposes his own secret inclinations. The actor played for laughs again as an older, wiser Simon Sparrow in "Doctor in Distress" (1963) and as an amateur spy up to his neck in intrigue in "Agent 8 ¾" (1964), a spoof of espionage thrillers. A deceptively gifted comedian, Bogarde⿿s stock-in-trade remained nervy dramas, the best of which included Lewis Gilbert⿿s maritime adventure "Damn the Defiant!" (1962), Dearden⿿s science-based thriller "The Mind Benders" (1963), and Joseph Losey⿿s "The Servant" (1963), in which Bogarde played a shady valet who undermines insecure employer James Fox.

A bleach-blonde Bogarde breezed his way through Loseyâ¿¿s swank spy satire "Modesty Blaise" (1966) without breaking a sweat, but was required to work harder in Loseyâ¿¿s quietly discomfiting "Accident" (1967) and in Jack Claytonâ¿¿s "Our Motherâ¿¿s House" (1967), in which he played the untrustworthy absentee father of orphans attempting to make a go of family life following the death of their invalid mother. Bogarde traveled abroad to work with Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, playing conflicted, flawed aristocrats in "The Damned" (1969) and "Death in Venice" (1971), again courting rumors in the latter by playing a titled composer who falls in love with a teenage boy. Long a talented writer, Bogarde also turned his hand to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and several volumes of memoirs, resulting in fewer film appearances. Bogarde drew on his wartime experiences for Liliana Cavaniâ¿¿s "The Night Porter" (1974), as a former SS officer who enjoys a torrid, tortured affair with a female concentration camp survivor, and Richard Attenboroughâ¿¿s sprawling, all-star WWII reenactment "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), as Lieutenant General Frederick "Boy" Browning.

In 1988, Bogarde suffered the loss of his longtime companion and manager Anthony Forwood, the former husband of actress Glynis Johns. Having suffered a minor stroke in 1987, the newly-knighted actor was felled by a massive stroke in 1996, after undergoing an angioplasty. His last film role â¿¿ as the title character in Bertrand Tavernierâ¿¿s "Daddy Nostalgia" (1990) â¿¿ long behind him, an incapacitated Sir Dirk Bogarde devoted himself to finishing a final volume of his memoirs. He died of a heart attack on May 8, 1999, at the age of 78. In compliance with his final wishes, Bogarde was cremated and his ashes scattered over the grounds of the estate he had shared with Forwood in the south of France.

By Richard Harland Smith

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Letter to True, A (2005) Himself
2.
 Daddy Nostalgia (1990) Daddy
3.
 Vision, The (1987) James Marriner
5.
 Despair (1978) Hermann Hermann
6.
 A Bridge Too Far (1977) Lieutenant General Frederick "Boy" Browning
7.
 Providence (1977) Claude Langham
8.
 Permission to Kill (1975) Alan Curtis
9.
 Night Porter, The (1974) Max
10.
 Le Serpent (1973) Boyle
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as a carpenter at the Q Theater in the suburbs of London at age 14; graduated to scene painting and designing and eventually to stage managing
:
Began acting career with Amersham Repertory Company; made stage debut in "When We Are Married" replacing an actor who fell ill
1939:
Film debut (as an extra) in "Come On George"
1941:
Enlisted in British Army; took part in the Normandy Landings
:
After war, sent to Burma and Java; wrote for army newspaper and Radio Batavia programs
1948:
Received first major notice as Cliff in stage play "Power Without Glory"
1948:
Film acting debut in "Esther Waters"
:
Britain's most popular leading man, appearing mostly in fluff (i.e., Rank's "Doctor in the House" series directed by Ralph Thomas)
1961:
Appeared in memorable role as closeted homosexual barrister married to Sylvia Sims in Basil Dearden's ground-breaking "Victim"
1963:
Deliviered an award-winning performance in Joseph Losey's "The Servent"
1964:
TV acting debut, "Little Moon of Alban" (NBC)
1965:
Starred opposite Julie Christie in John Schlesinger's "Darling"
1971:
Gave what many consider his finest performance as Gustave von Aschenbach in Luchino Visconti's film of Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice"
:
Moved to South of France and made a remarkable home out of a converted shepherd's cottage; appearances in film became less frequent
1977:
Played Lt General Frederick Browning in Richard Attenborough's all-star "A Bridge Too Far"
1978:
Starred in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Despair"
1981:
Portrayed Roald Dahl in the CBS TV-movie "Act of Love: The Patricia Neal Story"
1984:
Served on Cannes Film Festival Jury
:
Returned to England after living in the south of France
1990:
Returned to screen in Bertrand Tavernier's "Daddy Nostalgia"; final film
1992:
Received knighthood
1996:
Suffered a stroke in October; became a virtual recluse
1998:
Resurfaced in the news when it became public he had adopted a "living will"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Allen Glens College: -
University College: -
Royal College of Art: -
Chelsea Polytechnic School of Art: -

Notes

Bogarde's favorite stage roles: Cliff in "Power Without Glory" and Orpheus in "Point of Departure"

Bogarde worked five times with director Joseph Losey and nine times with Ralph Thomas, director of Rank's popular "Doctor" series

Two of Bogarde's drawings of the Normandy Landings, made during World War II, are exhibited in the Imperial War Museum in London.

Several of his poems have been published in an Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Anthony Forwood. Manager. Together from the 1960s until Forwood's death in 1988; formerly married to Glynis Johns.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
Forrest Niven. Actor.
father:
Ulric van den Bogaerde. Journalist. Art correspondent for the London <i>Times</i>; Belgian.
mother:
Margaret van den Bogaerde. Actor. Discontinued acting after marriage; Scottish; according to Bogarde's memoirs was an alcoholic.
sister:
Elizabeth van den Bogaerde Goodings.
brother:
Gareth van den Bogaerde.
nephew:
Brock van den Bogaerde. Bogarde left the bulk of his estate to his nephew.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"A Postillion Hit By Lightning" Holt, Rinehart and Winston
"Snakes and Ladders" Holt, Rinehart and Winston
"An Orderly Man" Alfred A. Knopf
"Backcloth"
"A Particular Friendship"
"A Gentle Occupation" Alfred A. Knopf
"Voices In the Garden" Alfred A. Knopf
"West of Sunset" Viking
"A Short Walk From Harrods"
"Jerico"
"A Period of Adjustment"
"Closing Ranks"
"Dirk Bogarde: Rank Outsider" Bloomsbury Publishing
"For the Time Being" Viking
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

RosamondTifft ( 2010-04-08 )

Source: not available

It is important to note that Tony Forwood, Dirk Bogarde's manager & companion was his companion from the late 1940's, not the 1960's until his death. You will find this information in John Coldstream's esteemed biography, supported by the van den Bogaerde family, DIRK BOGARDE.

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