January 2, 2017


Laurence Harvey (1928-1973) b. Joniskis, Lithuania.

Laurence Harvey

Born Lauruska Mischa Skikne in Joniskis, Lithuania, Laurence Harvey changed his name after emigrating to South Africa. After serving in Egypt and Italy during WWII, he returned to Johannesburg to continue his theatrical career. He moved to Britain in 1946, and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and spent time with the Manchester Library Theatre. In 1948 Harvey made his feature debut in the thriller House of Darkness (1948), this resulted in lead roles in Cairo Road (1950) and There Is Another Sun (1951). Harvey continued to languish in second features until cast in the noir thriller The Good Die Young (1954). After a sequence of co-star roles including Romeo and Juliet (1954) and I Am a Camera (1955), in 1956 he appeared opposite comedian Jimmy Edwards in Three Men in a Boat (1956).

After a series of disappointments, Harvey earned universal fame for his role as the ruthless social climber Joe Lampton in Room at the Top (1958), for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. He followed it with varied roles in John Wayne’s The Alamo (1960) and The Long and the Short and the Tall (1960). Later, Harvey was to achieve his greatest success as the brainwashed assassin in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962). In 1963, Harvey made his debut as a writer and director with The Ceremony, a disappointingly lacklustre drama. A small role in John Schlesinger‘s Darling (1965) and Life at the Top (1965), the belated sequel to Room at the Top (1958), followed as Harvey’s career began to dry up and focus on European productions. His final film as actor and director was Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974), released after Harvey died of cancer in 1973 aged just 45.

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