Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) b. London, England, UK.
A grandnephew of stage actress Ellen Terry, London-born Gielgud won a scholarship to Lady Benson’s Acting School before graduating to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and making his stage debut at the Old Vic in 1921. His performance of Hamlet, first given in 1930, is considered to be one of the finest interpretations of the role. He also gave outstanding performances in revivals of plays by Congreve, Sheridan, Chekov, Wilde, Shaw, and other masters, in the Shakespearean collage solo Ages of Man (1959), and in modern plays such as Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice (1965), David Storey’s Home (1970), Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land (1975), and Hugh Whitemore’s Best of Friends (1988), his last stage role.
Gielgud appeared in more than 80 films. He made his screen debut in the silent feature Who Is the Man? (1924) and his first “talkie” was Insult (1932). After turning in starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Secret Agent (1936) and the part of Benjamin Disraeli in Thorold Dickinson’s The Prime Minister (1941), Gielgud took a 12-year hiatus from filmmaking in order to concentrate on his stage work. He returned to the screen playing Cassius in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s lavish production of Julius Caesar (1953), and subsequently appeared as the Duke of Clarence in Laurence Olivier’s Richard III (1954). Gielgud earned an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role as King Louis VII in Becket (1964). He was awarded his only Oscar for his portrayal of Dudley Moore’s sardonic butler in Arthur (1981); a role he reprised in the film’s 1988 sequel. Gielgud continued to appear onscreen making enthusiastically-received turns in Shine (1996), in which he played pianist David Helfgott’s mentor and Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998), in which he made a brief appearance as the Pope.
He was knighted in 1953 became a Companion of Honour in 1977 and was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1996. He died on May 21st, 2000, at the age of 96.