Michael York


Actor
Michael York

About

Also Known As
Michael Hugh Johnson, Michael Johnson
Birth Place
Buckinghamshire, England, GB
Born
March 27, 1942

Biography

A classically trained British actor who honed his craft on the stage, Michael York made a smooth transition to the screen with several noted Shakespearean performances in films made by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. Though not a leading performer, York delivered strong turns as Lucentino in "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967) and Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" (1968), before he played mo...

Family & Companions

Patricia York
Wife
Photographer. Married on March 27, 1968; American; met while filming "Smashing Time"; published "Going Strong", a book of interviews and photographs of people over the age of 75 in 1991.

Bibliography

"Accidentally on Purpose"
Michael York, Simon & Schuster (1991)
"The Travelling Player"
Michael York (1981)

Notes

Made a Chevalier de L'Ordre National des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1995.

Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1996.

Biography

A classically trained British actor who honed his craft on the stage, Michael York made a smooth transition to the screen with several noted Shakespearean performances in films made by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. Though not a leading performer, York delivered strong turns as Lucentino in "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967) and Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" (1968), before he played more seductively charming men in "Something for Everyone" (1970) and "Cabaret" (1972). While starring as D'Artagnan in "The Three Musketeers" (1973) and Logan in the sci-fi cult classic "Logan's Run" (1976), he also turned to television to play Pip in "Great Expectations" (NBC, 1974) and John the Baptist in the epic miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth" (NBC, 1977). In the following decade, York joined the cast of "Knot's Landing" (CBS, 1979-1993), while stepping back into guest starring spots on shows like "Babylon 5" (TNT, 1993-98) and "Sliders" (Fox, 1995-99). Though he made fewer appearances on the big screen later in his career, York was quite memorable as the affable Basil Exposition in the "Austin Power" series, starring Mike Myers. As he continued forward, York diversified his talents to include voice work for both animated projects and a host of audiobooks, which served to underscore the wide breadth of the actor's talents.

Born on March 27, 1942 in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, England, York was raised in the London suburb of Burgess Hill by his father, Joseph Johnson, an ex-army officer-turned-executive for Marks and Spencer department stores, and his mother, Florence, a musician. While receiving his education at Bromley Grammar School for Boys, he began his acting career as a teenager in a production of "The Yellow Jacket" (1956). Three years later, York made his West End debut with a one-line role in a staging of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet." He continued to study acting at Oxford University, where he was a member of the Dramatic Society, and spent his summers working with Michael Croft's Youth Theatre while touring Italy in a production of "Julius Caesar." From there, he joined the Dundee Repertory Theatre in Scotland, where he played Sergius in "Arms and the Man" (1964) and first adopted the name Michael York. That same year, he graduated from Oxford and was invited to join England's National Theatre, which led him to be immediately cast by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli in his production of "Much Ado About Nothing" (1965).

With his stage career taking off, York took the logical next stepping of making his screen debut as Young Jolyon in the acclaimed and fondly remembered drama series "The Forsyte Saga" (BBC, 1966). A year later, York made his feature debut as Lucentino in Zeffirelli's film, "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967), starring the tumultuous Elizabeth Taylor and her on-again/off-again husband Richard Burton. Now a bona fide movie actor, York scored again as Tybalt in Zeffirelli's next Shakespearean screen adaptation "Romeo and Juliet" (1968). Later that same year, York married his sweetheart, Patricia, an American photographer, whom he met while filming "Smashing Time" (1969) when she was assigned to photograph the star. The couple remained husband and wife well into the next century. Meanwhile, York went on to effectively portray a variety of well-bred, charming men like the manipulative bisexual of "Something for Everyone" (1970) and the adventurous expatriate in Bob Fosse's Academy Award-winning "Cabaret" (1972), opposite Liza Minnelli.

From there, his role as D'Artagnan in Richard Lester's romping version of "The Three Musketeers" (1973) and as Logan in the cult sci-fi classic "Logan's Run" (1976) cemented York's cinematic stardom on both sides of the pond. He played opposite Burt Lancaster in the critically panned adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1977) and he even played himself in Billy Wilder's old fashioned missive on Hollywood, "Fedora" (1977). A series of well-received landmark TV miniseries followed, including roles as the Charles Dickens' hero Pip in "Great Expectations" (NBC, 1974) and a reteaming with his illustrious mentor Zeffirelli in "Jesus of Nazareth" (NBC, 1977), where he played John the Baptist to Robert Powell's titular Jesus. York returned to his theatrical roots in the 1979 Broadway production of "Bent," where he succeeded Richard Gere in the lead role of Max, a homosexual concentration camp inmate who pretends to be Jewish. That same year he produced his first movie, a slow-moving adaptation of Erskine Childer's prototypical spy thriller, "The Riddle of the Sands" (1979).

Heading into the 1980s, York attempted his first stage musical, "The Little Prince," which failed miserably during its Broadway previews and led to his decision to return to the comfort of the small screen. York proved he could still be a dashing and stalwart swashbuckler in "The Master of Ballantrae" (CBS, 1984) and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for the ABC Afterschool Special, "Are You My Mother?" He next joined the cast of the long-running primetime serial "Knot's Landing" (CBS, 1979-1993) for the 1987-88 season, playing the love interest to Donna Mills. In the 1990s, York continued to work on the small screen with episodes of popular shows like "Babylon 5" (TNT, 1993-98) and the time travel adventure "Sliders" (Fox, 1995-99), while tackling prominent roles in TV movies like "Not of This Earth" (Showtime, 1995), "Dark Planet" (Syfy, 1997), "The Ripper" (Starz, 1997) and "A Knight in Camelot" (1998). Of course, York continued making big screen appearances, playing the prime and proper head of British intelligence, Basil Exposition, in the Mike Myers franchise "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" (1997), a role he reprised in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999) and "Austin Powers: Goldmember" (2002).

Finding a new audience, York played media mogul Stone Alexander in the religious-themed "The Omega Code" (1999) and its sequel "Megiddo: Omega Code 2" (2001) - two films that were not theatrical blockbusters, but nevertheless performed extremely well in their niche market. Meanwhile, York's highly distinctive voice made him perfect for recording audio books, in which he was credited with over 70 productions, such as The Book of Psalms, Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, and his own children's book, The Magic Paw Paw. Of course, York also voiced numerous characters on screen, from Murdstone in "Charles Dickens' David Copperfield" (NBC, 1993), King Sarastro in "The Magic Flute" (ABC, 1994) and Kanto on "Superman" (ABC, 1996-99) to The King in "A Monkey's Tale" (2001) and Prime #1 in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009). In live action, he appeared in episodes of "The Gilmore Girls" (The WB, 2000-07) and "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005-14), before joining Rutger Hauer and Charlotte Rampling for the Polish-made religious drama "The Mill and the Cross" (2011).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Mill and the Cross (2011)
Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes (2010)
Sherlock Holmes
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Voice
Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
Narrator
Swiadectwo (2008)
Chris & Don: A Love Story (2007)
Narrator
Icon (2005)
2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey (To Be Deleted) (2005)
Cast
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
In Search of Peace - Part One: 1948-1967 (2001)
Narrator
Megiddo: Omega Code 2 (2001)
Borstal Boy (2000)
Governor Joyce
A Monkey's Tale (1999)
Voice
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
The Omega Code (1999)
A Knight in Camelot (1998)
King Arthur
54 (1998)
Wrongfully Accused (1998)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Dark Planet (1997)
Goodbye America (1997)
Merchants of Venus (1997)
A Christmas Carol (1997)
Voice
The Long Way Home (1997)
Voice
Not of This Earth (1996)
A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1995)
Merlin
Gospa (1995)
Milan Vukovic
Discretion Assured (1994)
Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)
Paul Mason
Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (1993)
Voice
Duel of Hearts (1992)
The Long Shadow (1992)
Eline Vere (1991)
Lawrence Claire
Come See the Paradise (1990)
The Lady And The Highwayman (1989)
Midnight Cop (1989)
The Return of the Musketeers (1989)
Phantom of Death (1988)
Ponce De Leon And The Search For The Fountain Of Youth (1987)
Ponce De Leon
Der Joker (1987)
Dr Proper
Sword of Gideon (1986)
L' Aube (1986)
Dawson
Dark Mansions (1986)
The Riddle of the Sands (1984)
Charles Carruthers
The Master Of Ballantrae (1984)
James Durie
Success Is the Best Revenge (1984)
Alex Rodak
For Those I Loved (1983)
Martin Gray--Age 40; Martin'S Father
Phantom of the Opera (1983)
The Weather in the Streets (1983)
Rollo
Final Assignment (1980)
Lyosha Petrov
Fedora (1978)
Himself
The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1977)
The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977)
Seven Nights in Japan (1976)
Prince George
Conduct Unbecoming (1975)
2nd Lieutenant Arthur Drake
Logan's Run (1975)
Great Expectations (1974)
Pip
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
England Made Me (1973)
Anthony Farrant
The Three Musketeers (1973)
Cabaret (1972)
Brian Roberts
Lost Horizon (1972)
Zeppelin (1971)
Geoffrey Richter-Douglas
La Poudre d'escampette (1971)
Something for Everyone (1970)
Conrad Ludwig
Justine (1969)
Darley
Alfred the Great (1969)
Guthrum
The Guru (1969)
Tom Pickle
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Tybalt
The Strange Affair (1968)
Peter Strange
The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Lucentio
Accident (1967)
William
Smashing Time (1967)
Tom Wabe

Producer (Feature Film)

Megiddo: Omega Code 2 (2001)
Coproducer
The Riddle of the Sands (1984)
Associate Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (1993)
Song Performer

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

The Long Way Home (1997)
Special Thanks To

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Fedora (1978)
Other

Cast (Special)

Founding Fathers (2000)
Voice
Raquel Welch (1999)
Intimate Portrait: Cheryl Ladd (1999)
Narration
Ira Gershwin at 100: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall (1997)
Canned Ham: Spyography -- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Interviewee
D-Day Remembered -- A Musical Tribute From the QE2 (1994)
Tracey Ullman Takes on New York (1993)
The American Film Institute Salute to Elizabeth Taylor (1993)
Performer
Secrets of the Golden River (1992)
Narrator
In a New Light (1992)
The Heat of the Day (1990)
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1990)
Performer
The Hunt For Stolen War Treasures... Live (1989)
Host
The Theban Plays (1988)
Host/Commentator
All-Star Party For Joan Collins (1987)
Are You My Mother? (1986)
Parade of Stars (1983)
Twilight Theater (1982)
Circus of the Stars (1977)

Cast (Short)

A LOOK INTO THE 23RD CENTURY (1976)
Himself
The Lion Roars Again (1975)
Himself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

La Femme Musketeer (2004)
Henry James' The Haunting of Hell House (1999)
One Hell of a Guy (1998)
Perfect Little Angels (1998)
The Ripper (1997)
True Women (1997)
The Ring (1996)
September (1996)
Edmund Aird
TekLab (1994)
The Magic Flute (1994)
Voice
Fall from Grace (1994)
Night of the Fox (1990)
Judith Krantz's Till We Meet Again (1989)
James A. Michener's "Space" (1985)
A Man Called Intrepid (1979)
Jesus of Nazareth (Do Not Use) (1977)

Life Events

1956

While in teens, worked with semi-professional Bromley Little Theatre Company; appeared in "The Yellow Jacket"

1959

London stage debut, a one-line role in a production of "Hamlet"

1964

Became member of Dundee Repertory Theatre in Scotland; stage debut there as Sergius in "Arms and the Man"; adopted stage name of Michael York

1965

Acted in Franco Zeffirelli's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at the National Theatre

1965

Joined The National Theatre in London (January)

1966

TV acting debut as Young Jolyon in the BBC production of "The Forsyte Saga"

1967

Film acting debut in "The Taming of the Shrew", directed by Zeffirelli

1968

Cast as Tybalt in Zeffirelli's film version of "Romeo and Juliet"

1970

Delivered a fine turn as an amoral bisexual in "Something for Everyone", stage director Harold Prince's first feature film

1972

Essayed the role of Brian Roberts, the stand-in for author Christopher Isherwood, in Bob Fosse's film adaptation of "Cabaret"

1973

Broadway debut in Tennessee Williams' short-lived play "Outcry"

1973

Gave a strong performance as a Brit traveling in Nazi Germany in the underrated "England Made Me"

1973

Had supporting role in the film musical "Lost Horizon"

1973

Played D'Artagnan in "The Three Musketeers", Richard Lester's romp based on the Dumas' classic

1974

Portrayed Pip in the NBC version of "Great Expectations"

1974

Acted in the all-star ensemble of "Murder on the Orient Express"

1976

Had lead role in the sci-fi thriller "Logan's Run"

1977

Played John the Baptist in the NBC biblical miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"

1979

Succeeded Richard Gere in the lead role of Max in the Broadway production of "Bent"

1979

First film as producer (associate), "The Riddle of the Sands" (also actor), released in USA 1984

1982

US musical theater debut, "The Little Prince and the Aviator"; show closed in previews in NYC

1983

Cast as an opera producer in love with a singer in the CBS version of "The Phantom of the Opera"

1983

Acted in the BBC film "The Weather in the Streets"

1984

Had leading role in the CBS movie "The Master of Ballantrae"

1986

Earned Daytime Emmy nomination as a music video producer who discovers his wife may not be deceased but may be a homeless woman in "Are You My Mother?", an "ABC Afterschool Special"

1987

Played a regular role on the CBS primetime soap opera "Knots Landing'

1989

Essayed King Charles II in "The Lady and the Highwayman" (CBS)

1990

Played dual roles in the syndicated "The Night of the Fox"

1991

Returned to the Broadway stage in a production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

1993

Played Rachel Ward's husband in "Wide Sargasso Sea"

1994

Co-starred in the CBS miniseries "Fall From Grace"

1995

Essayed Merlin in "A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"

1996

Acted in "Danielle Steel's 'The Ring'" (NBC)

1997

Portrayed Basil Exposition, the head of British intelligence in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"

1998

Portrayed King Arthur in the ABC movie "A Knight in Camelot"

1999

Had lead role of a mysterious professor who attempts to assist a troubled young man in "Henry James' The Haunting of Hell House"; released on video before airing on Cinemax

1999

Played media mogul Stone Alexander in the religious-themed "The Omega Man"

1999

Reprised Basil in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"

2000

Essayed the tough head of a reform school in "Borstal Boy"

2001

Reprised role in the sequel, "Megiddo: Omega Code 2"

2002

Reprised the role of Basil in "Austin Powers: Goldmember"

2005

Published a memoir about his adventures in Filmmaking in 21st century Russia entitled "Are My Blinkers Showing?"

Videos

Movie Clip

Mary Pickford: Muse Of The Movies (2008) - Open, America's Sweetheart Opening the 2008 documentary on the singular female figure in early Hollywood, Mary Pickford: Muse Of The Movies.
Mary Pickford: Muse Of The Movies (2008) - Mapmakers In An Uncharted World The first commentary by a friend, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., followed by further actualities from the subject, in the 2008 documentarty by Elizabeth Wood Coldicutt and Nicholas Eliopoulos, Mary Pickford: Muse Of The Movies.
Taming Of The Shrew, The (1967) - A Husband For The Elder Bianca (Natasha Pyne) pursued home by Lucentio (Michael York), her father (Michael Hordern) fending off suitors and the first appearance of her sister Katherina (Elizabeth Taylor), in Franco Zeffirelli's first film, set in Shakespeare's mythical Padua, The Taming Of The Shrew, 1967.
Logan's Run (1976) - Too Much For A Sandman Logan (Michael York) and fellow "Sandman," Francis (Richard Jordan) are messing with their replacements, before a quick tour of fancy sets and exposition, early in Logan's Run, 1976.
Logan's Run (1976) - Do I Get My Four Years Back? 23rd century cop Logan (Michael York) is alarmed when a computer gives him an assignment, tracking a network of fugitives, that requires the accelerated use of almost all of his permitted 30-year lifespan, in Logan's Run, 1976,
Logan's Run (1976) - I Like Dark Hair Farrah Fawcett-Majors, before Charlie's Angels on TV, plays beautician Holly, Michael Anderson Jr. as surgeon "Doc," who's secretly involved with the rebel network, as they're visited by conflicted Jessica (Jenny Agutter) and turncoat "Sandman" cop Logan (Michael York), in Logan's Run, 1976.
Three Musketeers, The (1973) - I Must Kill Your Friend Leaving his parents (Joss Ackland, Gretchen Franklin), would-be Musketeer D'Artagnan (Michael York) straight away meets Rochefort (Christopher Lee) who happens to be imparting instructions to Milady (Faye Dunaway), comedy to the forefront in Richard Lester's hit The Three Musketeers, 1973.
Four Musketeers, The (1975) - To Your Knees, Little Man! King Louis (Jean-Pierre Cassel) counseled by Richelieu (Charlton Heston) who sends spy Rochefort (Christopher Lee) to kidnap Constance (Raquel Welch) while about domestic business with D’Artagnan (Michael York), Milady (Faye Dunaway) conspiring, in the sequel, The Four Musketeers, 1975.
Four Musketeers, The (1975) - To Cure You Of Love As artful and mysterious as any scene in The Three Musketeers (1973) or this sequel, Athos (Oliver Reed) recalls for D’Artagnan (Michael York) a love of perhaps his own, who seems to be the generally evil Milady (Faye Dunaway), Richard Lester directing, in The Four Musketeers, 1975.
Four Musketeers, The (1975) - Let Us Rescue Your Mistress! Rochefort (Christopher Lee) speaks of his imprisonment of Constance (Raquel Welch), while D’Artagnan (Michael York) plots with his fellows (Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay) of how to break her out, comedy ensuing, in Richard Lester’s hit sequel The Four Musketeers, 1975.
Cabaret (1972) - Mein Herr The M-C (Joel Grey) calls Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) to the stage at the Kit-Kat Club, where she performs Mein Herr, written for the film by John Kander and Fred Ebb, in Bob Fosse's Cabaret, 1972.
Cabaret (1972) - Maybe This Time Sally (Liza Minnelli), with Brian (Michael York) after a successful tryst, cut with her performance of Maybe This Time by John Kander and Fred Ebb, in Bob Fosse's Cabaret, 1972.

Trailer

Family

Joseph Gwynne Johnson
Father
Businessman. Was executive with Marks and Spencer department stores.
Florence Edith May Johnson
Mother
Musician.

Companions

Patricia York
Wife
Photographer. Married on March 27, 1968; American; met while filming "Smashing Time"; published "Going Strong", a book of interviews and photographs of people over the age of 75 in 1991.

Bibliography

"Accidentally on Purpose"
Michael York, Simon & Schuster (1991)
"The Travelling Player"
Michael York (1981)

Notes

Made a Chevalier de L'Ordre National des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1995.

Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1996.

"I've always learned by doing. Of course, it's another way of life. But you always think of the end result. It's a question of temperament. For some people the theater is an absolute grind. You rehearse and then you do it. You do it and you do it and you do it. Whereas [in films and TV] the great thing is every moment is a new adventure. Something new is always happening. Film has this organic life. You have a script, but once you put director, actors, script, and setting together you get a chemical reaction. You come out with maybe something you weren't anticipating at the beginning -- which is always exciting. Anf the characters grow. It's always a good moment when the character starts taking you over, dictating how it wants to be played." --Michael York quoted in Cinefanstastique, April 1997.