Michael Hordern


Actor
Michael Hordern

About

Also Known As
Michael Murray Hordern, Sir Michael Hordern
Birth Place
Hertfordshire, England, GB
Born
October 03, 1911
Died
May 02, 1995
Cause of Death
Kidney Disease

Biography

A distinguished, long-faced character player, often of rumpled establishment figures, Sir Michael Hordern, in the English tradition, worked with equal ease both on stage and before the cameras. He played King Lear (onstage and on TV), Prospero in "The Tempest" (for both mediums) and Macbeth (he was Banquo on film and TV), and he created the central role of the flustered philosopher in th...

Family & Companions

Eve Mortimer
Wife
Actor. Died in 1986.

Bibliography

"A World Elsewhere"
Michael Hordern (1993)

Notes

Made Commander of the British Empire in 1972

He received honorary degrees (D. Litt.) from Exeter University (1985) and Warwick University (1987) and was made an honorary fellow of Queen Mary College, London University.

Biography

A distinguished, long-faced character player, often of rumpled establishment figures, Sir Michael Hordern, in the English tradition, worked with equal ease both on stage and before the cameras. He played King Lear (onstage and on TV), Prospero in "The Tempest" (for both mediums) and Macbeth (he was Banquo on film and TV), and he created the central role of the flustered philosopher in the original London production of Tom Stoppard's "Jumpers" (1972). However, he became a star for his supporting turns, portraying an assortment of parsons and vicars, headmasters and barristers in a career that spanned practically 100 films and almost as many TV appearances. Knighted in 1983, he delighted audiences that same year in "The Rivals" at the National Theatre, eating his eggs while silently and passionately lusting after his son's fiancee.

The son of a British army captain, Hordern debuted on the London stage as Lodovico in "Othello" (1937). After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II, he returned to the stage as Torvald Helmer in Ibsen's "A Doll's House" (1946). Hordern acted in nearly twenty Shakespeare productions and won acclaim for his interpretation of Chekhov, first in the title role of "Ivanov" (1950) and later as Gayev in "The Cherry Orchard" (1973). He also explored the works of contemporary playwrights like John Mortimer ("The Dock Brief," "What Shall We Tell Caroline" 1958) and Edward Albee ("A Delicate Balance" 1969) and was a close friend and fishing partner of Stoppard (for whom he also appeared in "Enter a Free Man" 1968).

Hordern's active film career began in 1939 when he starred in Carol Reed's "The Girl in the News." He turned in a memorably "chain-rattling" performance as Jacob Marley, whose agonized screams in "A Christmas Carol" (1951) rightfully disconcerted star Alastair Sim. After playing Cicero in "Cleopatra" (1963), he continued his association with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton by portraying Taylor's father in Franco Zeffirelli's "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967). His lecherous Senex in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1966) marked the first of five collaborations with director Richard Lester (which included "How I Won the War" 1967; "The Bed Sitting Room" 1969; "Juggernaut" 1974; and "Royal Flash" 1975). He was the well-meaning Parson Adams in Tony Richardson's "Joseph Andrews" (1977) and also appeared in "Trio" (1950), adapted from stories by Somerset Maugham, Anthony Mann's "El Cid" (1961) and Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi" (1982), among his many credits.

It was on television that Hordern became most recognizable to American audiences. He debuted on US TV in "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" ("Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," NBC, 1964), and he attracted considerable attention for his work on PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre," starring as Willie Ashden in "Cakes and Ale" (1976) and Reverend Simeon Simcox in "Paradise Postponed" (1986) in addition to acting in four other productions, including his final performance in "Middlemarch" (1994).

Late in his career, his voice was in as much demand as his visage, and he provided narration for a host of film and TV projects, beginning with Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" (1975). He served as narrator for "Watership Down" (1978) and was the voice of "Paddington Bear"(1981) in the popular syndicated children's TV series. In keeping with the times, he even appeared in a music video with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees in 1984.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Edward the King (1998)
The Fool (1991)
Mr Tatham
Diamond Skulls (1989)
Lord Crewne
The Secret Garden (1987)
Ben Weatherstaff
The Trouble With Spies (1987)
Comrades (1986)
Mr Pitt
Labyrinth (1986)
Voice Of Wiseman
Lady Jane (1986)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
Voice Of Older Watson
Zany Adventures Of Robin Hood (1984)
Yellowbeard (1983)
Ivanhoe (1982)
Cedric The Saxon
Oliver Twist (1982)
George Brownlow
Gandhi (1982)
The Missionary (1981)
Slatterthwaite
The Missionary (1981)
Narration
The Wildcats of St. Trinian's (1980)
Sir Charles Hackforth
Gauguin the Savage (1980)
The Medusa Touch (1978)
Atropos
Watership Down (1978)
Voice
Joseph Andrews (1977)
Parson Adams
The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
King
Royal Flash (1976)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Narrator
Mr. Quilp (1975)
Grandfather Trent
Lucky Lady (1975)
Captain Rockwell
Juggernaut (1974)
England Made Me (1973)
F Minty
The Mackintosh Man (1973)
Brown
Theatre Of Blood (1973)
George Maxwell
The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972)
Justin [Lorenz]
The Pied Piper (1972)
Melius
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
Up Pompeii (1971)
Ludicrus
Girl Stroke Boy (1971)
George
Demons of the Mind (1971)
The Bed Sitting Room (1969)
Capt. Bules Martin
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Thomas Boleyn
Where Eagles Dare (1969)
Vice-Admiral Rolland
I'll Never Forget What's 'Is Name (1968)
Headmaster
The Jokers (1967)
Sir Matthew
How I Won the War (1967)
Grapple
The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Baptista
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
Senex
Khartoum (1966)
Lord Granville
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
British ambassador
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)
Ashe
Genghis Khan (1965)
Geen
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965)
Harmsworth
Macbeth (1963)
Banquo
The V.I.P.s (1963)
Airport director
Cleopatra (1963)
Cicero
Dr. Syn - Alias the Scarecrow (1963)
Malaga (1962)
Inspector Farrell
Girls at Sea (1962)
Adm. Reginald Hewitt
El Cid (1961)
Don Diego
Man in the Moon (1961)
Dr. Davidson
Sink the Bismarck! (1960)
Commander in chief , <I>King George V</I>
I Accuse! (1958)
Prosecutor
Hell, Heaven or Hoboken (1958)
The Spaniard's Curse (1958)
WINDOM'S WAY (1958)
The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Gen. Coburn
Alexander the Great (1956)
Demosthenes
Wicked Wife (1956)
Inspector Ayling
The Spanish Gardener (1956)
Pacific Destiny (1956)
Storm Over the Nile (1956)
General Faversham
The Baby And The Battleship (1956)
Captain
The Warriors (1955)
King Edward
The Constant Husband (1955)
The Night My Number Came Up (1955)
Lindsay
The Beachcomber (1955)
Headman
You Know What Sailors Are (1954)
Forbidden Cargo (1954)
The Heart of the Matter (1954)
Commissioner Of Police
Street Corner (1953)
Personal Affair (1953)
Headmaster
The Hour of 13 (1952)
Sir Herbert Frensham
The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
Scathelock
The Card (1952)
Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951)
Senior master
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Jacob Marley
Flesh and Blood (1951)
The Magic Box (1951)
Trio (1950)
Vicar
Highly Dangerous (1950)
Train of Events (1949)
("The Actor")
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
The Astonished Heart (1949)
Good Time Girl (1948)
Portait From Life (1948)
Third Time Lucky (1948)
Mine Own Executioner (1947)
Night Beat (1947)
The Years Between (1946)
A Girl in a Million (1946)
School For Secrets (1946)
The Girl in the News (1941)
Assistant prosecuting counsel

Cast (Special)

Memento Mori (1992)
Scoop (1990)
Uncle Theodore
Suspicion (1988)
The Tale of Beatrix Potter (1984)
Narration
The Tempest (1980)
Romeo and Juliet (1979)
Capulet
The Easter Chester Mystery Plays (1977)
God
Cakes and Ale (1976)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Ending Up (1993)
The Green Man (1990)
Danny, The Champion of the World (1989)
Paddington Goes to School (1986)
Narrator
Shogun (1980)

Life Events

1937

First professional stage credit, Lodovico in "Othello"

1939

Served in the Royal Navy aboard carrier 'Illustrious'; discharged as Lieutenant Commander

1939

Feature debut, starred in Carol Reed's "The Girl in the News"

1946

Returned to the London stage in a production of "A Doll's House"

1950

Won acclaim in title role of Chekhov's "Ivanov"

1959

First Broadway production, "Moonbirds"; closed after two days

1964

US TV debut, "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh", for "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" (NBC)

1966

First of five collaborations with director Richard Lester, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

1975

Narrated "Barry Lyndon", the first of many voice credits

1980

First TV miniseries, "Shogun" (NBC)

1980

TV-movie debut, "Gauguin the Savage" (CBS)

1982

Was part of the star-studded cast of Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi"

1983

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

1991

Final feature, "The Fool"

1992

Appeared in PBS "Masterpiece Theatre" presentation of Muriel Spark's "Memento Mori"

1994

Last performance in "Middlemarch" ("Masterpieece Theatre", PBS)

Photo Collections

The Spanish Gardener - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Rank Films' The Spanish Gardener (1956), starring Dirk Bogarde. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, A - Comedy Tonight! Director Richard Lester with the opening tune, as catchy as any in composer Stephen Sondheim's catalog, delivered with the credits by star Zero Mostel as slave "Pseudolus," who gets caught by his owners (Michael Hordern, Patricia Jessel), in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, 1966.
Christmas Carol, A (1951) - Jacob Marley Scrooge (Alastair Sim) arriving home Christmas evening, spooky business beginning, Michael Hordern as his dead partner Jacob Marley, in the celebrated 1951 version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by Brian Desmond-Hurst.
Bed Sitting Room, The (1969) - The Nuclear Misunderstanding From director Richard Lester's post-apocalytic comedy, Frank Thornton (as "The BBC") updates Capt. Martin (Michael Hordern) on pre-war events (Bill Wallis as "The Prime Minister," Ralph Richardson as "Lord Fortnum") in The Bed Sitting Room, 1969.
Theatre Of Blood (1973) - They're A Stubborn Lot Critic and civic housing do-gooder Maxwell (Michael Hordern) failed to notice that the cop greeting him was star Vincent Price thus, he's caught unawares when the squatters he's come to remove demonstrate zombie qualities, the first bit of Shakespearean evil, in Theatre Of Blood, 1973.
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.
Warriors, the (1955) - To England And St. George After an English victory in France, 1359, King Edward III (Michael Hordern, age 44) informs his son Edward, Prince of Wales (Errol Flynn, age 46, his first scene), that he’ll be taking over, in The Warriors, 1955, in Cinemascope and Technicolor from Allied Artists and producer Walter Mirisch.
Cleopatra (1963) - There Is No Throne In Rome Talk of Caesar outside the senate, in the first scene in the city of Rome, Cassius (John Hoyt) and Brutus (Kenneth Haigh) tangle, Casca (Carroll O’Connor) and Cicero (Michael Hordern) joining, drawing the attention of Antony (Richard Burton), who later queries Octavian (Roddy McDowall), in Cleopatra, 1963.
Where Eagles Dare (1969) - Broadsword Calling Danny Boy Brit Smith (Richard Burton) briefs American Shaffer (Clint Eastwood) about the Nazi-held Alpine castle, and the background of their superior Turner (Patrick Wymark), whom he radios, along with Admiral Rolland (Michael Hordern), with news of a probable mole, in the hit spy thriller Where Eagles Dare, 1969.
Watership Down (1978) - The Great Frith Made The World Not from the novel, the entire origin myth, which is derived from the original writings of author Richard Adams, Michael Hordern narrating, opening writer, director and producer Martin Rosen’s animated 1978 adaptation of Watership Down.
Taming Of The Shrew, The (1967) - Fear Boys With Bugs Pretending confidence before his pals, Petruchio (Richard Burton) arrives to meet Katherina (Elizabeth Taylor), busy terrorizing her sister Bianca (Natasha Pyne), in Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, 1967.
Trio (1950) - Somerset Maugham The author introducing the first story, from his home in the south of France, producer Sydney Box's follow up to Quartet, 1949, Trio, 1950, beginning with "The Verger," featuring James Hayter, Kathleen Harrison and Michael Hordern, directed by Ken Annakin.
How I Won The War - My First Command In training, Transom (Lee Montague) drilling the troop (Ronald Lacey, John Lennon et al), Col. Grapple (reciting), then Goodbody (Michael Crawford) counseling Clapper (Roy Kinnear), in Richard Lester's How I Won The War, 1967.

Trailer

Gandhi (1982) -- (Original Trailer) Eight Academy Awards® including Best Picture went to Gandhi (1982), the true story of the man who freed India from colonial rule through non-violent protest.
Khartoum - (Original Trailer) Charlton Heston stars as the British general Gordon sent to stop The Mahdi (Laurence Olivier) from taking Khartoum (1966).
Genghis Khan - (Original Trailer) The Asian conqueror (Omar Sharif) and his mentor (Stephen Boyd) vie for the same woman in Genghis Khan (1965).
Anne of the Thousand Days - (Original Trailer) Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold) fights to keep Henry VIII's love and her head in the midst of palace intrigue in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969).
Mackintosh Man, The - (Original Trailer) A British agent goes undercover as a jewel thief to nab a Communist spy in John Huston's The Mackintosh Man (1973) starring Paul Newman.
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A -- (Original Trailer) A madcap musical set in ancient Rome starring Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Michael Crawford and silent era comic Buster Keaton in a cameo appearance.
V.I.P.s, The - (Original Trailer) Wealthy passengers fogged in at London's Heathrow Airport experience a series of personal trials in The V.I.P.s (1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton.
Where Eagles Dare - (Original Trailer) An Allied team sets out to free an American officer held by the Nazis in a mountaintop castle in Where Eagles Dare (1969) starring Richard Burton & Clint Eastwood.
Spy Who Came In From the Cold, The - (Original Trailer) A British agent infiltrates the enemy by allowing himself to be disgraced at home in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom.
Yellow Rolls-Royce, The - (Original Trailer) A classic car changes the lives of three sets of owners in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) starring Rex Harrison, Shirley MacLaine and Ingrid Bergman.
Cast A Giant Shadow - (Original Trailer) Kirk Douglas stars in the true story of U.S. officer Mickey Marcus who joined the Israeli fight against the Arabs in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966).

Family

Edward Joseph Calverly Hordern
Father
Captain in the British army.
Margereta Emily Hordern
Mother
Joanna Hordern
Daughter
Survived him.

Companions

Eve Mortimer
Wife
Actor. Died in 1986.

Bibliography

"A World Elsewhere"
Michael Hordern (1993)

Notes

Made Commander of the British Empire in 1972

He received honorary degrees (D. Litt.) from Exeter University (1985) and Warwick University (1987) and was made an honorary fellow of Queen Mary College, London University.

When Hordern asked John Gielgud's advice on playing King Lear, he received the famous reply: "All I can tell you is, get a light Cordelia."

"I try to find comedy in everything I play, even 'King Lear,' Hordern once said, adding with humility: "I suppose I'm a jack of all trades, with the well-known corollary, master of none. The advantage is that I've never been typed. People never say, 'That's a Michael Hordern part.'"