Laurence Harvey


Actor
Laurence Harvey

About

Also Known As
Laruschka Mischa Skikne, Hirsch Skikne
Birth Place
Lithuania
Born
October 01, 1928
Died
November 26, 1973
Cause of Death
Cancer

Biography

In both life and death, actor Laurence Harvey commanded a sort of unusual fascination from both the public and press. A strikingly handsome performer, he was also exceptionally cold, occasionally cruel and prone to making statements in the press about his own talents, which were largely underused in his three decades on film, save for a handful of projects like "Room at the Top" (1959) a...

Photos & Videos

The Manchurian Candidate - Movie Posters
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm - Color Publicity Stills
Darling - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Margaret Leighton
Wife
Actor. Divorced; died in 1961.
Joan Perry Cohn
Wife
Divorced; died in 1996 at age 89; formerly married to Harry Cohn.
Paulene Harvey
Wife
Model. Survived him.

Biography

In both life and death, actor Laurence Harvey commanded a sort of unusual fascination from both the public and press. A strikingly handsome performer, he was also exceptionally cold, occasionally cruel and prone to making statements in the press about his own talents, which were largely underused in his three decades on film, save for a handful of projects like "Room at the Top" (1959) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962). In both films, his chilly screen presence made for memorable performances, first as a ruthless social climber in "Room" and later as a brainwashed solder in "Candidate." Before and after these assignments, he languished in low-budget dramas, save for a brief stint at the top of the Hollywood heap in "The Alamo" (1960) and "Butterfield 8" (1960). His luck ran out in the late 1960s, and he languished in obscurity until his death from cancer in 1973. But in the decades that followed his passing, Harvey's legacy and performances - at once riveting and repelling - commanded a small but dedicated cult who celebrated his eccentric star and its sporadic bursts of brilliance.

Born Laruschka Mischa Skikne in Joniskis, Lithuania on Oct. 1, 1928, Laurence Harvey was the youngest of three sons by Boris and Ella Skikne, who immigrated with their children to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1934. He joined the South African Army while still in his teens, and as a member of its entertainment unit, performed across Egypt and Italy during World War II. Upon his discharge, he relocated to London after winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. There, he billed himself as Laurence Harvey, a name reportedly inspired by either the Harvey Nichols department store chain or the sherry Harvey's Bristol Cream. Even as a tyro actor, Harvey was well known for living far beyond his means, and allegedly worked as a male prostitute to make ends meet while performing with the Library Theatre.

He made his feature debut as a callous heel who caused his brother's own death in the low-budget thriller "House of Darkness" (1948), and would essentially repeat variations on that role throughout his career. Signed to contracts with Associated British Studios and later Romulus Pictures, Harvey labored through a string of undistinguished films and roles while working to establish himself as a stage star with the Memorial Theatre at Stratford. There, he received almost unanimously negative reviews, which were exacerbated by a series of self-aggrandizing interviews in which he staunchly defended his own talents. He finally landed a movie hit with his Hollywood debut, "King Richard and the Crusaders" (1954) opposite Rex Harrison and George Sanders, but almost immediately deflated any positive response with an aloof turn as Romeo in Renato Castellani's 1954 film version of "Romeo and Juliet," which won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival, despite an abundance of critical brickbats. His debut on Broadway in "Island of Goats" (1955) closed after only a week, though it netted Harvey a Theatre World Award.

Upon his return to England, Harvey launched his film career with Romulus anew, though with decidedly unfortunate results. He was soundly panned for turns in Christopher Isherwood's "I Am a Camera" (1955), which later served as the inspiration for "Cabaret" (1972), and slogged through several more flops before landing his defining role in "Room at the Top" (1959). Cast as Joe Lampton, an ambitious and amoral social climber who left a wake of emotional destruction in his drive to success, Harvey's performance was cited as one of the defining elements of the New British Cinema, which eschewed the quaintness of the past in favor of gritty vérité stories of postwar London. He received both Oscar and BAFTA nominations for his performance, which re-ignited Hollywood's interest in him.

After another acclaimed turn in "Expresso Bongo" (1959) as an oily talent scout who exploited his latest discovery, a hapless pop star (Cliff Richard), Harvey began a lengthy tenure in Hollywood. He arrived with a bang, landing starring roles in two major features: the John Wayne-directed epic "The Alamo" (1960) and "Butterfield 8" (1960), starring Elizabeth Taylor. Both arrived in theaters with a thud, with budgetary overruns and a tasteless Oscar campaign sinking "The Alamo," and Taylor's scandalous union with co-star Eddie Fisher undermining "Butterfield," despite her Oscar win for Best Actress. He soldiered on, but found few viewers for "Walk on the Wild Side" (1962) or "Summer and Smoke" (1962), his second turn in a Tennessee Williams adaptation after "Butterfield 8." He was also developing a reputation as a difficult and unlikable performer on sets; his "Wild Side" co-star Capucine found him physically unappealing in their love scenes, while Jane Fonda spared no quarter to the press in describing Harvey as wooden and unprofessional. There was a brief uptick in popularity as one of the Brothers Grimm in "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (1962), and then a chance at renewed stardom with a controversial film being readied by director John Frankenheimer.

With "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), Harvey found another perfect role in Raymond Shaw, an Army sergeant captured by the Communists during the Korean War who is programmed through subliminal suggestion to assassinate a string of political targets. The scion of a powerful conservative family, Shaw was handsome, charming, polite and a complete blank, having lost his identity to rigorous brainwashing. The soulless quality of the character seemed to echo Harvey's own emotionless core, and it seemed to realign his career in a positive direction. However, his subsequent pictures, which included his producing and directorial debut with the violent and surreal crime picture "The Ceremony" (1963) and Martin Ritt's "The Outrage" (1964) were pilloried in the press, with Harvey receiving the brunt of their ire.

He briefly rebounded with John Schlesinger's "Darling" (1965) as a cynical ad executive who romanced bored socialite Julie Christie, and reprised his star-making turn in "Life at the Top" (1965), a less well-received sequel to "Room at the Top." After that, his career went into a lengthy spiral, with careless performances in forgettable films like "The Spy with a Cold Nose" (1965). In 1968, he took over direction of the Cold War thriller "A Dandy in Aspic" when Anthony Mann died before its completion. The film also served as his introduction to model Paulene Stone, who became his third wife and the mother of his only child, Domino Harvey.

Harvey drifted through the early 1970s in a string of forgotten and failed projects. Some were well intentioned, like Stuart Rosenberg's "WUSA" (1970), which echoed his best-known role in "Manchurian Candidate" with its story of conspiracies and assassinations. Others, like "The Deep" (1970) for Orson Welles, never saw the light of day. He gave one final, full-bodied turn in a 1972 episode of "Night Gallery" (NBC, 1970-72) as a scheming rotter whose attempt to murder a rival backfired in a horrific manner. Audiences, however, could not help but notice that the actor, who was only 45, looked at least a decade older. The cause was stomach cancer, which claimed his life shortly after he completed "Welcome to Arrow Beach" (1973), a grisly horror film about a Korean War veteran-turned-cannibal. In death, he continued to receive slings and arrows from an array of sources ranging from actor Robert Stephens and Frank Sinatra's valet to wife Paulene Stone. His daughter, Domino, followed a similarly tragic career path that took her from model to bounty hunter before her death from a drug overdose in 2005. Her life story was highly fictionalized by director Tony Scott in "Domino" (2005) with Keira Knightley in the title role.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974)
Director
The Ceremony (1963)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974)
Jason Henry
F for Fake (1973)
Night Watch (1973)
John Wheeler
Habricha el Hashemesh (1972)
Kirassanov
WUSA (1970)
Farley
The Magic Christian (1970)
Hamlet
A Dandy in Aspic (1968)
Eberlin
The Spy With a Cold Nose (1966)
Dr. Francis Trevellyan
Life at the Top (1965)
Joe Lampton
Darling (1965)
Miles Brand
The Outrage (1964)
Husband
Of Human Bondage (1964)
Philip Carey
The Running Man (1963)
Rex Black
The Ceremony (1963)
Sean McKenna
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Raymond Shaw
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
Wilhelm Grimm
A Girl Named Tamiko (1962)
Ivan Kalin
Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
Dove Linkhorn
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
The Cobbler
Two Loves (1961)
Paul Lathrope
The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961)
Private Bamforth
Summer and Smoke (1961)
John Buchanan
BUtterfield 8 (1960)
Weston Liggett
The Alamo (1960)
Col. William Barret Travis
Power Among Men (1959)
Narrator
Expresso Bongo (1959)
Room at the Top (1959)
Joe Lampton
The Silent Enemy (1959)
The Truth About Women (1958)
Three Men in a Boat (1956)
Storm Over the Nile (1956)
John Durrance
I Am a Camera (1955)
Christopher Isherwood
King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)
Sir Kenneth of Huntington
Romeo and Juliet (1954)
Romeo
The Good Die Young (1954)
Rave
Innocents in Paris (1953)
Francois
Women of Twilight (1952)
A Killer Walks (1952)
I Believe in You (1951)
There Is Another Sun (1951)
The Black Rose (1950)
Edmond
Cairo Road (1950)
Landfall (1949)
The Man From Yesterday (1949)
House of Darkness (1948)

Writer (Feature Film)

The Ceremony (1963)
Additional Dialogue

Producer (Feature Film)

The Ceremony (1963)
Producer

Animation (Feature Film)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Modeller, Motion control & model unit

Life Events

1934

Immigrated to South Africa

1943

Stage actor Johannesburg Repertory Theatre

1946

Moved to Great Britain

1948

Film actor

Photo Collections

The Manchurian Candidate - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters from John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate (1962), starring Laurence Harvey, Frank Sinatra, and Janet Leigh.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm - Color Publicity Stills
Here are a few color publicity stills from MGM's The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), starring Buddy Hackett and produced by George Pal. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Darling - Movie Poster
Here is a British Quad movie poster for Darling (1965), starring Dirk Bogarde, Julie Christie, and Laurence Harvey.
BUtterfield 8 - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of BUtterfield 8 (1960), starring Elizabeth Taylor and directed by Daniel Mann.
The Outrage - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from MGM's The Outrage (1964), directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman and Claire Bloom.

Videos

Movie Clip

Summer And Smoke (1961) - It's A Civic Duty After a childhood prologue and credits, Mississippi spinster Alma (Geraldine Page) with her dotty mother (Una Merkel) and minister father (Malcolm Atterbury), sings a Spanish song (“La Golondria”) at holiday festivities while her dashing neighbor Johnny (Laurence Harvey) arrives home, in Summer And Smoke, 1961, from a Tennessee Williams play.
Summer And Smoke (1961) - Hello, Cavalier! Minding her needy mother (Una Merkel), Mississippian Alma (Academy Award-nominated Geraldine Page) finds cause to visit her dashing if reckless neighbor Johnny (Laurence Harvey), a young doctor home for the summer, finally managing an invitation, in Summer And Smoke, 1961.
Summer And Smoke (1961) - Come Watch The Birdie Motivated partly by guilt for standing her up days earlier, fun-loving Mississippi doctor Johnny (Laurence Harvey) brings his neighbor, patient and life-long admirer Alma (Geraldine Page) to the casino (run by Thomas Gomez), where his paramour Rosa (Rita Moreno) dances, in Summer And Smoke, 1961, from the Tennessee Williams play.
Summer And Smoke (1961) - Unless Maybe I Trap You! Hard-partying young Mississippi doctor Johnny (Laurence Harvey) has skipped an engagement with his neighbor (Geraldine Page as Alma), for a night at the casino, for gambling, cock-fighting and the owner’s fiery daughter Rosa (Rita Moreno), in Tennessee Williams’ Summer And Smoke, 1961.
Outrage, The (1964) - I Kill To Live Already inside one flashback, this is the recollection by the accused, the bandit Carrasco (Paul Newman), of meeting the crime victims, (Laurence Harvey and Claire Bloom, not named), early in director Martin Ritt's remake of Kurosawa's Rashomon, The Outrage, 1964.
Outrage, The (1964) - The Air Hung Heavy Hewing close to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, including rain, the preacher (William Shatner) listens as the prospector (Howard Da Silva) recounts for the con man (Edward G. Robinson) the trial from the day before, and his discovery of the crime, in Martin Ritt's remake The Outrage, 1964.
King Richard And The Crusaders - Phantoms In Bedrobes Droll in victory, George Sanders (title character) after a good day in Palestine, installing Sir Giles (Robert Douglas) as his second, tangling with uppity Scottish bodyguard (Laurence Harvey), early in Warner Bros.' first CinemaScope picture, King Richard And The Crusaders, 1954.
King Richard And The Crusaders (1954) - No Man Meets A Friend Scottish officer of the 3rd Crusade Sir Kenneth (Laurence Harvey) on a scouting mission meets a wandering Saracen (top-billed Rex Harrison) who introduces himself as "Emir Ilderim," good jousting sequence from 2nd unit director Yakima Canutt, in King Richard And The Crusaders, 1954.
Butterfield 8 (1960) - Better Than Sleeping Pills In her mink swiped from the closet of the wife of a client who insulted her by leaving cash, call-girl-in-denial Gloria (Elizabeth Taylor) drops in on musician and childhood pal Steve (Taylor's then-husband Eddie Fisher), in BUtterfield 8, 1960, from the novel by John O'Hara.
Butterfield 8 (1960) - Vice-President In Charge Of Nonsense We’ve just met womanizing Manhattan executive “Ligg” (Laurence Harvey), getting a talking-to from a business pal (Jeffrey Lynn), then at the shooting range in the tony suburbs with his slightly-estranged but loyal wife (Dina Merrill), early in Butterfield 8, 1960, starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Alamo, The (1960) - The Life Of Texas Most of the performance of Richard Boone as a rugged Sam Houston, arriving in San Antonio ahead of the giant Mexican army, finding Bowie (Richard Widmark, not yet introduced) unavailable, puts Travis (Laurence Harvey) in charge, co-star John Wayne directing, in The Alamo, 1960.
Alamo, The (1960) - Cognizant Of The Will Of God Jim Bowie (Richard Widmark), recovered from a binge, leads his men to the church that will become their fortress, Col. Travis (Laurence Harvey) raising the “Alamo Flag.” co-star and producer John Wayne directing the ceremony, before they tangle, in The Alamo, 1960.

Trailer

Companions

Margaret Leighton
Wife
Actor. Divorced; died in 1961.
Joan Perry Cohn
Wife
Divorced; died in 1996 at age 89; formerly married to Harry Cohn.
Paulene Harvey
Wife
Model. Survived him.

Bibliography