Family & Companions
English actor Esmond Knight recovered from a devastating war wound to sustain a career spanning over 50 years in film, television, and stage productions. Starting before the age of 20, he performed on the London stage, moving into feature films a few years later. After playing numerous roles through the '30s, he fought in the Royal Navy in World War II and suffered a blinding injury in battle, resulting in having one eye removed and prompting him to dictate his autobiography, "Seeking the Bubble." Renowned director Michael Powell coaxed the blind actor back to work for the film "The Silver Fleet." Shortly thereafter, an operation partially restored sight in his remaining eye, bringing greater opportunities, including the Powell-Pressburger landmark films, "Black Narcissus" and "The Red Shoes." He played a castle guard in Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet" and stepped up to a leading role in Jean Renoir's "The River." Beginning in the late '50s, Knight was frequently cast in British TV series, though he continued to act for films, including a part as the captain of the Prince of Wales, the same ship on which he was blinded, in "Sink the Bismarck!" He worked prodigiously into the '80s, with a late-career role in Lars von Trier's early feature "The Element of Crime." Knight died in 1987 while filming "The Balkan Trilogy" in Cairo, leaving behind actress Nora Swinburne, his wife of over 40 years.