John Gielgud

John Gielgud

British, Actor
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John Gielgud

Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, he was one of the trinity of actors who dominated the British stage for much of the 20th century. A member of the Terry family theatrical dynasty, he gained his first paid acting work as a junior member of his cousin Phyllis Neilson-Terry's company in 1922. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art he worked in repertory theatre and in the West End before establishing himself at the Old Vic as an exponent of Shakespeare in 1929–31.

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Full name at birth
Arthur John Gielgud
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Claim to fame
Arthur
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Date of birth
14 April 1904
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Place of birth
South Kensington, London, England, UK
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Date of death
21 May 2000
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Age
96 (age at death)
Place of death
Wotton Underwood, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK
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Cause of death
Natural causes
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Occupation
Actor, singer, director
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Occupation category
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Nationality
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PERSONAL DETAILS

Height
5' 11" (180 cm)
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Build
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Distinctive feature
  • Career spanned eight decades
  • English, Lithuanian and Polish descent...
  • At Hillside Preparatory School, he hated mathematics, was fair at classics, and excelled at English and divinity...
  • At Westminster School, the school choir sang in services at Westminster Abbey, which appealed to his fondness for ritual...
  • First drama teacher, Constance Benson, remarked on his physical awkwardness: "she said I walked like a cat with rickets. It dealt a severe blow to my conceit, which was a good thing"...
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ADDITIONAL DETAILS

High school
  • Westminster School, London, England
  • Hillside Preparatory School in Surrey, England
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University
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
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[At age 84] When you`re my age, you just never risk being ill - because then everyone says, "Oh, he`s done for".
  • Archive footage of Gielgud as Hamlet appears briefly on the computer screen of Ethan Hawke as Hamlet (2000) in the year 2000 version of Shakespeare's play. The role is considered the summit for a tragedian, and Gielgud was the most celebrated Hamlet of the 20th century, surpassing even John Barrymore, Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton in acclaim for his stage portrayal of the melancholy Dane.
  • His career spanned 76 years.
  • Actor William Redfield, who appeared as Guildernstern in the Gielgud-directed stage version of Richard Burton's "Hamlet" (a filmed version of the stage production was released in 1964, as Hamlet (1964/I)) wrote in his 1967 memoir of the event, "Notes of an Actor", that Gielgud had an encyclopedia knowledge of the play and could play any and all parts of it from memory for his cast as he directed the production.
  • All his Oscar and Emmy nominations were received during the latter part of his career, after he had turned sixty.
  • He was awarded the 1982 London Evening Theatre Award's Special Award for lifetime achievement to the theatre.

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