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Michael Denison

Michael Denison

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Also Known As: John Michael Terence Wellesley Denison Died: July 22, 1998
Born: November 1, 1915 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: actor, writer, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The quintessential English gentleman, actor Michael Denison brought elegance and charm to his numerous performances in theater, film and television. He had a long and successful career, appearing in stage and screen productions regularly until his death in 1998. Denison made his stage debut in 1938 as Lord Fancourt Babberly in a Frinton-on-Sea production of "Charley's Aunt". That same year, he made his West End debut at the Westminster Theatre, playing Paris in "Troilus and Cressida". The next year he made his first appearance in the medium that years later would make him a household name in his native Britain when the BBC televised a performance of "Marco Millions" from the Westminster Theatre. Also in 1939, Denison married fellow actor Dulcie Gray whom he met when they were both students at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. After making his film debut in "Tilly of Bloomsbury" (1940), Denison interrupted his career to join the British Royal Army as a member of the Intelligence Corps, serving until 1946. By that time, his wife was beginning to be hailed as a film star. Anxious to get back to the acting he missed so desperately while at war, Denison made two films in 1947, "My Brother...

The quintessential English gentleman, actor Michael Denison brought elegance and charm to his numerous performances in theater, film and television. He had a long and successful career, appearing in stage and screen productions regularly until his death in 1998. Denison made his stage debut in 1938 as Lord Fancourt Babberly in a Frinton-on-Sea production of "Charley's Aunt". That same year, he made his West End debut at the Westminster Theatre, playing Paris in "Troilus and Cressida". The next year he made his first appearance in the medium that years later would make him a household name in his native Britain when the BBC televised a performance of "Marco Millions" from the Westminster Theatre. Also in 1939, Denison married fellow actor Dulcie Gray whom he met when they were both students at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

After making his film debut in "Tilly of Bloomsbury" (1940), Denison interrupted his career to join the British Royal Army as a member of the Intelligence Corps, serving until 1946. By that time, his wife was beginning to be hailed as a film star. Anxious to get back to the acting he missed so desperately while at war, Denison made two films in 1947, "My Brother Jonathan" (in a role which Dulcie Gray helped him land) and the drama "Hungry Hill", based on the Daphne du Maurier novel about an Irish family in the 19th Century. In 1951, he appeared in "The Magic Box", the story of William Friese-Greene, the inventor of movies, featuring an all-star cast. His long and happy marriage to Gray was enriched by their frequent professional partnerships. They appeared together in several films, including the British war movie "Angels One Five"(1952), and numerous theatrical productions. After a long career on the London stage, both made their Broadway debut in Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" in 1996. One of Denison's most famous film roles was in another Wilde work, playing Algernon Moncrieff opposite Michael Redgrave's Jack Worthing in the 1952 production of the comedy of manners "The Importance of Being Earnest". His comic capabilities were again used in 1958's "The Truth About Women" with Laurence Harvey, Julie Harris and Eva Gabor. One of his final film performances was in the acclaimed C.S. Lewis biopic "Shadowlands" (1993) starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

While a prolific and well-respected film and theater actor, Denison achieved his greatest fame as the star of the long-running legal drama TV series "Boyd, QC" (ITV, 1956-65), one of the highest rated program of its day. During the show's run, Denison's stage work barely slowed down. In 1962 alone, he worked in Australia as Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady", and did two plays in Hong Kong. Michael Denison became the director of the New Shakespeare Company in 1971. He also served as council (1949-55; 1959-77) and vice president (1952; 1961-63; 1974) for the British Actor's Equity Association and was a member of the British Arts Council. Denison was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the Jubilee Medal in 1977 and both he and his wife were designated Commanders of the British Empire in 1983. Their second volume of memoirs entitled "Double Act" was released two years later, the follow up to 1973's "Overture and Beginners". They also collaborated on a children's book called "The Actor and His World" (1964). Determined to keep working as long as there were good roles, Denison starred opposite his wife in "Curtain Up" on the London stage in April 1998, just three months before his death.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Shadowlands (1993) "Harry" Harrington
2.
 Dark River (1990) Oliver Priestley
3.
 Faces in the Dark (1964) David Merton
4.
 The Truth About Women (1958) Rollo
5.
 The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952) Algernon Moncrieff
6.
 Angels One Five (1952) S/L Peter Moon
7.
 The Magic Box (1951)
8.
 Hungry Hill (1947) Henry Brodrick
9.
 Last Respects (1996)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1938:
Stage acting debut in "Charley's Aunt"
1939:
First TV appearance in a BBC telecast of "Marco Millions" from the Westminster Theatre
1940:
Film debut in the British production "Tilly of Bloomsbury"
1940:
Served in the British Royal Signals and Intelligence Corps
1947:
Acted in "Hungry Hill", a film adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier book about a 19th century Irish family
1951:
Appeared in "The Magic Box", a star studded biography of William Freise-Greene, the inventor of movies
1952:
Starred in the British war film "Angels One Five" with wife Dulcie Gray
1952:
Played Algernon Moncrieff opposite Michael Redgrave's Jack Worthing in a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners "The Importance of Being Earnest"
:
Starred in the popular ITV legal drama "Boyd, QC"
1958:
Appeared in the film comedy "The Truth About Women"
1971:
Was director of The New Shakespeare Company
1990:
Acted in the adventure drama "Dark River", a story of British expatriates living on the banks of an African river
1993:
Appeared in the C.S. Lewis biopic "Shadowlands"
1996:
Made Broadway debut alongside wife in Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband", staged by Sir Peter Hall
1998:
Starred with Dulcie Gray in the London stage production "Curtain Up"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Harrow School: -
Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art: -
Magdalen College, Oxford University: - 1937

Notes

He and his wife were appointed Commanders of the British Empire in 1983.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Dulcie Gray. Actor. Married on April 29, 1939; acted together on several occasions; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Marie Louise Denison. Died when he was three weeks old.
father:
Gilbert Dixon Denison. Paint manufacturer.

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Actor and His World" Gollancz
"Overture and Beginners" Gollancz
"Double Act"

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