January 2, 2017


Rex Harrison [Reginald Carey Harrison] (1908-1990) b. Huyton, Lancs, England.

Rex Harrison

Never an actor of hidden profundities, Rex Harrison‘s natural environment was theatrical light comedy in which elegance was preferred to depth, and urbanity to rough edges. Though, in keeping with the mood of the late 1930s, he plays an idealistic reporter in Victor Saville and Ian Dalrymple‘s Storm in a Teacup (1937) and appears in King Vidor’s socially conscious The Citadel (1938), he seems more at home in Herbert Wilcox’s I Live in Grosvenor Square, David Lean’s Blithe Spirit, or Sidney Gilliat‘s The Rake’s Progress (all 1945).

His career on stage was as successful as his career in film, and the two came together in his performance as Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady on Broadway (1956-8) and in George Cukor’s film adaptation (1964), for which he won an Oscar. It was one of those parts in which character and actor come to define each other, and though Harrison continued to give good performances (in, for example, The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964); and in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), Doctor Dolittle (1967), and Staircase (1969), they tended to live under the shadow of Henry Higgins.

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