January 2, 2017


Leo Genn (1905-1978) London, England.

Leo Genn

The son of the son of a successful jewellery merchant, Leo Genn was a practising barrister before becoming an actor. He was educated at the City of London School and studied law at Cambridge University. He made his professional stage debut in 1930 and was with the Old Vic from 1934 to 1936. He made a small number of films in the 1930s, often uncredited, in a sturdy but unspectacular pre-war film career. During WW2 he served with the Royal Artillery and was assistant prosecutor for the Belsen war crimes trial. He first came to audience’s attention with a superbly sardonic Constable of France in Henry V (1944), and as surgeon Mr. Eden in Gilliat and Launder’s droll murder-mystery Green for Danger (1946).

Genn was too restrained and sophisticated for cinema stardom so carved out a career as a character actor portraying middle-class professionals or military officers. His best British roles included the sympathetic psychiatrist in The Snake Pit (1948), the divorcing father in No Place for Jennifer (1949), and one of the instigators of the PoW escape in The Wooden Horse (1950). Genn died after suffering a heart-attack on 26 January 1978 in London. Married casting director Marguerite van Praag in 1933.

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