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John Gielgud

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Also Known As: Arthur John Gielgud, Sir John Gielgud Died: May 21, 2000
Born: April 14, 1904 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor, director, author

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Widely considered one of the finest actors of the 20th-Century, the versatile and prolific Sir John Gielgud fashioned an astounding career that spanned nearly 80 years. Born into a renowned English theater family, Gielgud began performing on stage in 1921 and was soon touted as one of the leading Shakespearian actors of his day. His continued efforts producing other classic works at the renowned Queen's Theatre throughout the 1930s and 1940s further solidified his growing reputation. Gielgud's film output began to increase mid-century with notable productions like "Julius Caesar" (1953) and "Richard III" (1955), in addition to a growing recognition on the stages of Broadway for such productions as "Ages of Man" and "Little Fish, Big Fish," both of which earned him a Tony Award. Modern-era works by the likes of David Storey and Harold Pinter occupied Gielgud's time throughout much of the 1970s, but it was near the dawn of the following decade when the heralded stage actor also became one of the most respected film actors ever to grace the screen. Following acclaimed performances in efforts like Alain Resnais' "Providence" (1977), the septuagenarian actor won an Oscar for his supporting role as the...

Widely considered one of the finest actors of the 20th-Century, the versatile and prolific Sir John Gielgud fashioned an astounding career that spanned nearly 80 years. Born into a renowned English theater family, Gielgud began performing on stage in 1921 and was soon touted as one of the leading Shakespearian actors of his day. His continued efforts producing other classic works at the renowned Queen's Theatre throughout the 1930s and 1940s further solidified his growing reputation. Gielgud's film output began to increase mid-century with notable productions like "Julius Caesar" (1953) and "Richard III" (1955), in addition to a growing recognition on the stages of Broadway for such productions as "Ages of Man" and "Little Fish, Big Fish," both of which earned him a Tony Award. Modern-era works by the likes of David Storey and Harold Pinter occupied Gielgud's time throughout much of the 1970s, but it was near the dawn of the following decade when the heralded stage actor also became one of the most respected film actors ever to grace the screen. Following acclaimed performances in efforts like Alain Resnais' "Providence" (1977), the septuagenarian actor won an Oscar for his supporting role as the less-than-amused butler in the hit comedy "Arthur" (1981). Accolades continued to come for his work on such miniseries as "Brideshead Revisited" (PBS, 1982), as well as on radio plays alongside protégé Kenneth Branagh. One of the few performers to win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy, Gielgud's placement in the pantheon of all-time greats was inarguably secure.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Hamlet (1964) Staged by

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Quest for Camelot (1998) Voice Of Merlin
2.
 Tichborne Claimant, The (1998) Lord Chief Justice Cockburn
3.
 Elizabeth (1998) The Pope
4.
 MERLIN (1998) King Constant
5.
 Edward the King (1998) Disraeli
6.
 Leopard Son, The (1996) Narration--Voice Of Hugo Van Lawick
7.
 Shine (1996) Parks
8.
 Hamlet (1996) Priam
9.
 Portrait of A Lady, The (1996) Mr Touchett
10.
 Haunted (1996) Dr Doyle
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1921:
Stage acting debut at Old Vic with one-line role in "Henry V"
1924:
Feature debut in a silent film, "Who Is The Man?"
1928:
Made New York acting debut, "The Patriot"
1929:
Joined Old Vic Theatre Company
1932:
Feature debut in a sound film, "Insult"
1937:
Took over Queen's Theatre and launched his own company
1939:
Published "Early Stages"
1948:
Won first Tony for "The Importance of Being Earnest"
1953:
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth
1953:
First appearance in a feature after 12-year absence, "Julius Caesar"
1953:
Arrested in October for "importuning"
:
American TV debut on "DuPont Show of the Month" in the late 1950s
1955:
Had featured role in Laurence Olivier's "Richard III"; first time Gielgud, Olivier and Ralph Richardson appeared in the same film
1961:
Broadway directing debut, "Big Fish, Little Fish"
1963:
Published "Stage Directions"
1964:
Directed modern dress version of "Hamlet" on Broadway starring Richard Burton; filmed for theatrical release; Burton's contract stipulated that the film would be desstroyed after its initial release, but at least two copies are extant
1965:
Co-starred in the Broadway production of Edward Albee's "Tiny Alice"
1967:
Played Henry IV in Orson Welles' "Chimes at Midnight", adapted from Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Parts I and II"
1970:
Returned to American TV after 15 year absence as the Ghost of Hamlet's father in "Hamlet"
1970:
Had title role in feature version of "Julius Caesar"
1970:
Co-starred with Ralph Richardson in David Storey's "Home" on the London stage and on Broadway
1972:
Published "Distinguished Company"
1973:
Debut in a US TV miniseries, "Frankenstein: The True Story"
1974:
Co-starred in the ABC miniseries "QB VII"
1974:
Was featured in the all-star cast of Sidney Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express"
1977:
Host of short-lived TV series, "The Pallisers"
1977:
With Richardson, appeared in the stage production "No Man's Land"
1978:
American TV-movie debut, "Les Miserables"
1979:
Earned Grammy Award, Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording for "Ages of Man (Readings from Shakespeare)"
1981:
Won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "Arthur"
1982:
Played Edward Ryder, father of Jeremy Irons' Charles Ryder, in the British miniseries "Brideshead Revisited" (shown on PBS in the USA)
1986:
Had title role in the syndicated TV-movie "The Canterville Ghost"
1988:
Last appearance on stage in "The Best of Friends"; filmed in 1992
1988:
Assumed the role of Aaron Jastrow (originated by John Houseman) in the ABC miniseries "War and Remembrance"
1989:
Made first honorary fellow of RADA on November 17
1991:
Received an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "Summer's Lease" (PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre")
1991:
Played Prospero in "Prospero's Books", Peter Greenaway's experimental adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"
1992:
Starred in Kenneth Branagh's Oscar-nominated short "Swan Song"
1994:
Honored with the renaming of the Globe Theatre to the Gielgud Theatre
1994:
Co-starred in the CBS miniseries "Scarlett"
1996:
Received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II
1996:
Had featured roles in Jane Campion's "The Portrait of a Lady" and Scott Hicks' "Shine"
1996:
Appeared briefly as Priam in Branagh's full-length filming of "Hamlet"
1996:
Narrated the documentary "The Leopard's Son"
1998:
Voice character of Merlin in the animated "The Quest for Camelot"
1998:
Made brief cameo as the Pope in the historical drama "Elizabeth"
:
Made final screen appearance opposite Harold Pinter in "Catastrophe", a Samuel Beckett play directed for TV by David Mamet; filmed on Gielgud's 96th birthday in 2000
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Westminster School: London , England -
Lady Benson's Acting School: -
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England - 1921

Notes

Gielgud was one of only eight individuals (Rita Moreno, Richard Rodgers, Audrey Hepburn, Helen Hayes, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Mike Nichols are the others) to have won all four of the major entertainment awards (Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy) in competition.

The Globe Theater was renamed the Gielgud in October 1994, in tribute to his 90th birthday.

Holds honorary Doctorates of Law at St. Andrew's University and Brandeis University (also a Brandeis University Companion), a Doctor of Literature at Oxford, and is a Chevalier of France's Legion d'Honneur

In 1996, Gielgud received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II. He is only the second actor ever to be so honored.

"I had terrible trouble with my movement when I was young because I never did any sports. I can't swim, I can't ride. I should have forced myself. And I got much too fond of my voice. I sang all my parts." --Sir John Gielgud to The New York Times, October 28, 1993

Despite the urgings of gay activist Ian McKellen to be more public about his decades-old relationship, Gielgud preferred to keep his romantic life private. "I always thought of it [my homosexuality] as being something lacking in my nature." --quoted in USA Today, March 6, 1997

Alec Guinness described Gielgud's voice as "a silver trumpet muffled in silk."

"When John Gielgud says 'Ohhhhhhh for a muse of fire ...' That's not an affectation. That's him. He and Judi Dench do have access to the poetic spirit, which nowadays has become a kind of embarrassment. Gielgud has a poetic soul. Unadulterated." --actor Ralph Fiennes to Gielgud's biographer Julie Kavanagh reprinted in the London Times, May 23, 2000.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
John Perry. Irish; reportedly Gielgud's first long-standing relationship.
companion:
Paul Anstee. Involved in the 1950s.
companion:
Martin Hensler. Met in 1963 died of cancer in March 1999.

Family close complete family listing

great-aunt:
Ellen Terry. Actor.
great-grandmother:
Aniela Aszpergerowa. Actor. Famed Lithuanian performer.
mother:
Kate Gielgud.
father:
Frank Gielgud. Stockbroker. Married 1893.
brother:
Lewis Gielgud. Older.
brother:
Val Gielgud. Executive. Older; Head of Sound and Drama at BBC for over thirty years.
sister:
Eleanor Gielgud. Born in 1907; died in 1999.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Early Stages 1921-1936" Macmillan
"Stage Directions" Hodder & Stoughton
"John Gielgud" William Heinemann
"Distinguished Company" William Heinemann
"An Actor and His Time" Sidgwick & Jackson
"Backward Glances" Hodder & Stoughton
"Shakespeare-Hit or Miss" Sidgwick & Jackson
"Notes from the Gods" Consortium Books
"Gielgud: A Theatrical Life" Methuen
"John G: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud" Hodder & Stoughton
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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