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Alec Guinness

Alec Guinness

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Hotel Paradiso ... Alec Guinness and Gina Lollobrigida lead an international cast in this sparkling... more info $17.56was $21.99 Buy Now

All at Sea ... The last of the Ealing comedies closes that studio's fan-pleasing comic... more info $18.95was $21.99 Buy Now

Lovesick ... Forget about accountants who want to fly, professors whose brains are being... more info $13.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Hitler: The Last Ten Days ... Alec Guinness takes center stage as Adolf Hitler in director Ennio de Concini's... more info $18.71was $24.95 Buy Now

TCM Greatest Classic Legends... Includes THE V.I.P.S, THE SANDPIPER, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and THE... more info $14.96was $19.98 Buy Now

Doctor Zhivago ... David Lean's Doctor Zhivago is an exploration of the Russian Revolution as seen... more info $27.96was $34.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Sir Alec Guinness Died: August 5, 2000
Born: April 2, 1914 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor, advertising copywriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Sir Alec Guinness, acting's preeminent master of disguise, first drew attention as Fagin, providing a wonderfully Dickensian performance that totally concealed the actor within in David Lean's "Oliver Twist" (1948). His most dramatic display of versatility came playing eight roles, including a woman, in "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), a film that established him beyond a shadow of a doubt as an expert at make-up and deception. Whether he was an English prime minister (Disraeli in "The Mudlark" 1950), an Arab prince ("Lawrence of Arabia" 1962), a despicable despot (Hitler in "The Last Ten Days" 1973) or an Indian professor ("A Passage to India" 1984), Guinness demonstrated a chameleon-like ability to disappear so completely within the role that filmgoers forgot they were watching an actor and saw the character instead.

Sir Alec Guinness, acting's preeminent master of disguise, first drew attention as Fagin, providing a wonderfully Dickensian performance that totally concealed the actor within in David Lean's "Oliver Twist" (1948). His most dramatic display of versatility came playing eight roles, including a woman, in "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), a film that established him beyond a shadow of a doubt as an expert at make-up and deception. Whether he was an English prime minister (Disraeli in "The Mudlark" 1950), an Arab prince ("Lawrence of Arabia" 1962), a despicable despot (Hitler in "The Last Ten Days" 1973) or an Indian professor ("A Passage to India" 1984), Guinness demonstrated a chameleon-like ability to disappear so completely within the role that filmgoers forgot they were watching an actor and saw the character instead.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Mute Witness (1995) The Reaper
2.
 Foreign Field, A (1994) Amos
3.
 Kafka (1991) The Chief Clerk
4.
 Little Dorrit (1988) William Dorrit (The Dorrit House)
5.
 The Detective (1988) Father Brown
6.
 Handful of Dust, A (1988) Mr Todd
9.
 A Passage to India (1984) Professor Godbole
10.
 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1934:
Stage acting debut as walk-on
1934:
Film acting debut in "Evensong"
1939:
Played Herbert Pocket in stage production of "Great Expectations" which he also adapted
1941:
Served in Royal Navy during WWII; Enlisted as able seaman; commissioned as lieutenant the following year
1942:
Given leave for New York stage debut on Broadway in "Flare Path", a propaganda play
1946:
Returned to films in David Lean's "Great Expectations"; began acting steadily in features
1948:
Drew attention as Fagin in Lean's "Oliver Twist"
1949:
Played eight parts, including a woman, in Robert Hammer's "Kind Hearts and Coronets"
1951:
Portrayed the inventor in Alexander Mackendrick's "The Man in the White Suit"
1951:
Nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for Charles Crichton's "The Lavender Hill Mob"
1953:
Starred as the captain with two wives in different ports in "Captain's Paradise"
1957:
Won Best Actor Oscar for his thoughtful rendering of an English bureaucrat soldier in Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai"
1959:
Scripted adaptation of Joyce Carey's "The Horse's Mouth"; also delivered a superb, monstrous rendering of lead character Gully Jimson; received Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
1959:
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II
1962:
Reunited with Lean for "Lawrence of Arabia"
1964:
Played Marcus Aurelius in Anthony Mann's "The Fall of the Roman Empire"
1965:
Reteamed with Lean as Zhivago's brother in "Dr. Zhivago"
1970:
Portrayed Charles I in Ken Hughes' "Comwell"
1972:
Appeared as Pope in Franco Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon"
1973:
Cast as Hitler in Ennio de Concini's "The Last Ten Days"
1977:
Played Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars"; received Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor; also given 2-1/4 percent of the profits by director George Lucas
1979:
Created role of John LeCarre's George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" on BBC (aired in USA on PBS' "Great Performances" in 1980)
1982:
Reprised Smiley in "Smiley's People"
1984:
Final collaboration with Lean, played an Indian professor in the screen adaptation of E M Forester's "A Passage to India"
1985:
Received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for role of William Dorrit in "Little Dorrit"
1985:
Published first volume of memoirs, "Blessings in Disguise"
1991:
Appeared as the chief clerk in Steven Soderbergh's fantasy thriller "Kafka"
1993:
Co-starred with Leo McKern, Jeanne Moreau and Lauren Bacall in the BBC production "A Foriegn Field" (aired in USA on PBS in 1994)
1997:
Published second memoir, "My Name Escapes Me"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art: - 1934

Notes

"I shrivel up a little every time someone mentions 'Star Wars' to me." --Guinness quoted in Talk, October 1999.

Guinness received an honorary doctorate (DFA) from Boston College in 1962.

He received an honorary doctorate (DLitt) from Oxford University in 1978.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Merula Salaman. Actor. Born on October 16, 1914; met Guinness in 1935; married on June 20, 1938; died on October 18, 2000.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Andrew Guinness. Banker.
mother:
Agnes Guinness.
son:
Matthew Guinness. Actor. Born in 1940; mother, Merula Salaman.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Alec Guinness: The Films" McFarland
"Blessings in Disguise" Alfred A. Knopf
"My Name Escapes Me" Viking
"A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal 1996-98" Haimish Hamilton
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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