George Sanders (actor)

George Sanders (actor)

Infobox actor
bgcolour = silver
name = George Sanders

imagesize = 200px
caption = as "Miles Fairley" in the trailer for
"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947)
birthdate = birth date|1906|7|3|mf=y
birthname = George Henry Sanders
location = Saint Petersburg, Russia
deathdate = death date and age|1972|4|25|1906|7|3|mf=y
deathplace =Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain
yearsactive = fy|1929–fy|1972
spouse = Susan Larson "(m. October 27, 1940, div. December 10, 1946)"
Zsa Zsa Gabor "(m. April 2, 1949, div. April 2, 1954)"
Benita Hume "(m. February 10, 1959, died November 1, 1967)"
Magda Gabor "(m. December 4, 1970, div. January 16, 1971)"
domesticpartner =Lorraine Chanel "(1968-1972)"
academyawards = Best Supporting Actor
1950 "All About Eve"

George Henry Sanders (July 3, fy|1906–April 25, fy|1972) was an Academy Award-winning English film and television actor.

Early life

Sanders was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, of English parents. In 1917, at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, when Sanders was 11, the family returned to England and, like his brother, he attended Brighton College, a boys' independent school in Brighton. He then attended Manchester Technical College in Manchester, England. After graduation he worked in an advertising agency. It was there that the company secretary, an aspiring actress named Greer Garson, suggested to him a career in acting. Sanders' look-alike older brother, Tom Conway, was also a movie actor, to whom Sanders later handed over the role of The Falcon in "The Falcon's Brother" (1942). The only other film in which the two real-life brothers appeared together was "Death of a Scoundrel" (1956). In both films they played brothers.


Sanders made his British film debut in 1929 and, after a series of British films, made his American debut in 1936, in the film "Lloyd's of London" as Lord Everett Stacy. In his films, he was known for his smooth, upper-crust English accent. His British accent and sensibilities, combined with his suave, snobbish, and somewhat menacing air, were utilised in American films throughout the next decade. He played supporting roles in prestige productions such as "Rebecca", in which he joined forces with Judith Anderson in her persecution of Joan Fontaine. He also played leading roles in less high-profile pictures such as "Rage in Heaven." During this time he was also the lead in both The Falcon and The Saint film series, and also played Lord Henry Wotton in a film version of "The Picture of Dorian Gray." In 1947 he co-starred with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." That same year he gave one of his best performances as the lead in the little-known Albert Lewin directed film "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami", based on a De Maupassant short story, opposite Angela Lansbury.

In 1950 Sanders gave his most widely recognised performance, and achieved his greatest success, as the acerbic, cold-blooded theatre critic Addison DeWitt in "All About Eve," winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He moved into the field of television and was responsible for the successful series "George Sanders Mystery Theatre." Sanders played an upper crust English villain, G. Emory Partridge, in a 1965 "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." episode, "The Gazebo in the Maze Affair" and reprised the role later that year in "The Yukon Affair." He also portrayed Mr. Freeze in two episodes of the 1960s live-action "Batman" TV series.

Later, he provided the voice for the malevolent Shere Khan in the Walt Disney production of "The Jungle Book." One of Sanders's final screen roles was in the 1972 feature film version of the popular television series "Doomwatch."

Sanders' smooth voice, urbane manner, and upper-class British accent were the inspiration for the Peter Sellers' character "Hercules Grytpype-Thynne" in the famous BBC radio comedy series "The Goon Show." Sellers and Sanders appeared together in the Pink Panther sequel, "A Shot in the Dark."

He was honoured with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for motion pictures at 1636 Vine St, and for television at 7007 Hollywood Blvd. In popular culture, he is mentioned in The Kinks' song "Celluloid Heroes" and his ghost makes an appearance in Clive Barker's 2001 novel "Coldheart Canyon".

Writing and music

Sanders has two crime novels to his credit: "Crime on My Hands" (1944, written in the first person and mentioning his "Saint" and "Falcon" movies) and "Stranger at Home" (1946). These were published simply to cash in on his screen success, and both were ghostwritten: the former by Craig Rice, the latter by Leigh Brackett.

In 1958 Sanders recorded an album entitled "". Released by ABC-Paramount Records, the album offered lush string arrangements of romantic ballads, crooned by Sanders in a persuasive baritone. He went to great lengths to get himself signed to sing in "South Pacific", but was overwhelmed with anxiety over the role and quickly dropped out. Sanders' singing voice can be heard in "Call Me Madam" and Disney's "The Jungle Book" as Shere Khan. He signed for the role of Sheridan Whiteside in the stage musical "Sherry!" (1967) based on the Kaufman - Hart play "The Man Who Came to Dinner", but felt overwhelmed by the demands of the production and resigned when his wife, actress Benita Hume, found she had terminal bone cancer.

Personal life

On 27 October 1940, Sanders married Susan Larson. The marriage ended in divorce in 1949. From 1949 until 1954, Sanders was married to the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. (In 1956 he and Gabor starred together in the film "Death of a Scoundrel".) On 10 February 1959 Sanders married actress Benita Hume, the widow of actor Ronald Colman. Benita Hume died in 1967. Sanders' final marriage, on 4 December 1970, was to Magda Gabor, the older sister of his second wife; the marriage lasted only 6 weeks. Following this he began to drink heavily.

His autobiography, "Memoirs of a Professional Cad," was published in 1960 and received critical praise for its wit. Sanders, himself, suggested the title "A Dreadful Man" for the biography of him later written by Brian Aherne and published in 1979.

In his later years, Sanders suffered from bewilderment and bouts of anger, both made worse by health problems. He was losing his balance, among other things, and can actually be seen visibly teetering in his very last films. He also had a minor stroke, according to correspondence quoted in the book of his friend and biographer Brian Aherne. His latest girlfriend, a Mexican woman, much younger than himself, induced him to sell his beloved house in Majorca, Spain - an act which he regretted bitterly afterwards. From then on, he drifted. But house or no house, what stands out is that he couldn't bear the idea of losing his health, of being dependent on someone else's care. By this time Sanders was fed up with life anyway. It was around this time that he dragged his grand piano out onto the lawn and smashed it to pieces with an axe because he couldn't play it anymore.


On April 23, 1972, he checked into a hotel in Castelldefels, a coastal town near Barcelona, Spain. He was found dead two days later, along with five empty bottles of Nembutal. Sanders was 65 years old. He left behind a suicide note that read:

His friend David Niven recorded in his autobiography "Bring On The Empty Horses" that Sanders had predicted, many years earlier, in 1937 at age 31, that he would commit suicide at the age of 65. In 1972, he fulfilled this prediction.

Sanders' body was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the English Channel.


* "Strange Cargo" (1929)
* "Love, Life and Laughter" (1934)
* "Dishonor Bright" (1936)
* "Dishonour Bright" (1936)
* "Find the Lady" (1936)
* "Lloyd's of London" (1936)
* "Strange Cargo (1936)
* "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" (1936)
* "Things to Come" (1936) (extra)
* "Lancer Spy" (1937)
* "Love is News" (1937)
* "Slave Ship" (1937)
* "The Lady Escapes" (1937)
* "Four Men and a Prayer" (1938)
* "International Settlement" (1938)
* "Allegheny Uprising" (1939)
* "Confessions of a Nazi Spy" (1939)
* "Mr. Moto's Last Warning" (1939)
* "Nurse Edith Cavell" (1939)
* "So This is London" (1939)
* "The Outsider" (1939)
* "The Saint Strikes Back" (1939)
* "The Saint in London" (1939)
* "Bitter Sweet" (1940)
* "Foreign Correspondent" (1940)
* "Green Hell" (1940)
* "Rebecca" (1940)
* "The House of Seven Gables" (1940)
* "The Saint Takes Over" (1940)
* "The Saint's Double Trouble" (1940)
* "A Date with the Falcon" (1941)
* "Man Hunt" (1941)
* "Rage in Heaven" (1941)
* "Sundown" (1941)
* "The Gay Falcon" (1941)
* "The Saint in Palm Springs" (1941)
* "The Son of Monte Cristo" (1941)
* "Her Cardboard Lover" (1942)
* "Quiet Please, Murder" (1942)
* " (1942)
* "Tales of Manhattan" (1942)
* "The Black Swan" (1942)
* "The Falcon Takes Over" (1942)
* "The Falcon's Brother" (1942)
* "Appointment in Berlin" (1943)
* "Paris After Dark" (1943)
* "The Moon and Sixpence" (1943)
* "They Came to Blow Up America" (1943)
* "This Land Is Mine" (1943)
* "Action in Arabia" (1944)
* "Summer Storm" (1944)
* "The Lodger" (1944)
* "Hangover Square" (1945)
* "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945)
* "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry" (1945)
* "A Scandal in Paris" (1946)
* "The Strange Woman" (1946)
* "Forever Amber" (1947)
* "Lured" (1947)
* "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947)
* "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" (1947)
* "Blackjack" (1949)
* "Samson and Delilah" (1949)
* "The Fan" (1949)
* "All About Eve" (1950)
* "Jack, el Negro" (1950)
* "I Can Get It for You Wholesale" (fy|1951)
* "Kentucky Jubilee" (1951)
* "The Light Touch" (1951)
* "Assignment-Paris" (1952)
* "Hold That Line" (1952)
* "Ivanhoe" (1952)
* "Call Me Madam" (1953)
* "Run for the Hills" (1953)
* "Journey to Italy" ("Viaggio in Italia") (1953)
* "King Richard and the Crusaders" (1954)
* "Witness to Murder" (1954)
* "Jupiter's Darling" (1955)
* "Moonfleet" (1955)
* "Portrait for Murder" (1955)
* "The Big Tip Off" (1955)
* "The King's Thief" (1955)
* "The Scarlet Coat" (1955)
* "Death of a Scoundrel" (1956)
* "" (1956)
* "Never Say Goodbye" (1956)
* "That Certain Feeling" (1956)
* "While the City Sleeps" (1956)
* "The Seventh Sin" (1957)
* "That Kind of Woman" (1958)
* "From the Earth to the Moon" (1958)
* "Outcasts of the City" (1958)
* "The Whole Truth" (1958)
* "Solomon and Sheba" (1959)
* "That Kind of Woman" (1959)
* "A Touch of Larceny" (1960)
* "Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons" (1960)
* "Cone of Silence" (1960)
* "The Last Voyage" (1960)
* "Village of the Damned" (1960)
* "Five Golden Hours (1961)
* "Gli Invasori (1961)
* "Le Rendez-Vous (1961)
* "The Rebel" (aka "Call Me Genius" (1961))
* "In Search of the Castaways" (1962)
* "Operation Snatch" (1962)
* "Cairo" (1963)
* "The Cracksman" (1963)
* "A Shot in the Dark" (1964)
* "Dark Purpose" (1964)
* "Last Plane to Baalbeck" (1965)
* "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders" (1965)
* "The Billionaire" (1965)
* "The Golden Head" (1965)
* "" (1965)
* "The Quiller Memorandum" (1966)
* "Trunk to Cairo" (1966)
* "Good Times" (1967)
* "Rey de Africa" (1967)
* "The Jungle Book" (1967) (voice)
* "Warning Shot" (1967)
* "The Girl from Rio" aka "The Seven Secrets of Sumuru","La Ciudad sin Hombres" (fy|1968)
* "One Step to Hell" aka "Caccia ai violenti" (fy|1969)
* "The Best House In London" (1969)
* "The Body Stealers" (1969)
* "The Candy Man" (1969)
* "Thin Air" (1969)
* "The Night of the Assassins" (1970)
* "The Kremlin Letter" (1970)
* "Endless Night" (1971)
* "" (1971)
* "Psychomania" (1971)
* "Doomwatch" (1972)


* "Screen Directors Playhouse" (ytv|1956)
* "The George Sanders Mystery Theater" (ytv|1957)
* "Voyage To The The Bottom Of The Sea" (ytv|1965)
* "The Rogues" (1965)
* "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." "The Gazebo in the Maze Affair" and "The Yukon Affair" (1965)
* "Daniel Boone"(fy|1966)
* "Batman (TV series)" "Mr. Freeze" (1966)
* "Mission Impossible" (ytv|1971)


* "Conversation Piece", at the 44th Street Theatre, 1934




last =Aherne
first =Brian
author-link =
title =A Dreadful Man
place =
publisher =Simon & Schuster
year =1979
isbn =0671247972

last =Sanders
first =George
author-link =
title =Memoirs of a Professional Cad
place =
publisher =G.P. Putnam's Sons
year =1960
isbn =0810825791

last =Vanderbeets
first =Richard
author-link =
title =George Sanders: An Exhausted Life
place =
publisher =Madison Books
year =1990
isbn =0819178063

External links

* [ George Sanders :: Official Website]

NAME= Sanders, George
DATE OF BIRTH= July 3 1906
PLACE OF BIRTH= St. Petersburg, Russia
DATE OF DEATH= April 25 1972
PLACE OF DEATH= Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain

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