Rex Harrison

Rex Harrison

Infobox actor
name = Rex Harrison

imagesize = 200px
caption = Rex Harrison pictured in 1947
birthdate = birth date|1908|3|5
location = Huyton, Lancashire, England
deathdate = death date and age|1990|6|2|1908|3|5
deathplace = New York City, New York, USA
birthname = Reginald Carey Harrison
spouse = Colette Thomas (1934-1942)
Lilli Palmer (1943-1957)
Kay Kendall (1957-1959)
Rachel Roberts (1962-1971)
Elizabeth Harris (1971-1975)
Mercia Tinker (1978-1990)

academyawards = Best Actor
1964 "My Fair Lady"
tonyawards = Best Leading Actor in a Play
1949 "Anne of the Thousand Days"
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
1957 "My Fair Lady"
goldenglobeawards = Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical/Comedy
1964 "My Fair Lady"
awards = NBR Award for Best Actor
1963 "Cleopatra"
NYFCC Award for Best Actor
1964 "My Fair Lady"

Sir Reginald “Rex” Carey Harrison (5 March 1908 - 2 June 1990) was an English Academy Award and Tony Award-winning theatre and film actor.


Youth and stage career

Harrison was born in Huyton, then part of Lancashire, and educated at Liverpool College. [ [] ] He first appeared on the stage in 1924 in Liverpool. Harrison's acting career was interrupted during World War II whilst he served in the Royal Air Force, reaching the rank of Flight Lieutenant. [] He acted in various stage productions until 11 May 1990. He acted in the West End of London when he was young, appearing in the Terence Rattigan play "French Without Tears", which proved to be his breakthrough role.

He alternated appearances in London and New York, winning a Tony Award for his appearance as Henry VIII in "Anne of the Thousand Days" and international superstardom (and a second Tony Award) for his Henry Higgins in the musical "My Fair Lady". Later appearances included 's Pirandello's "Enrico IV", a 1984 appearance at the Haymarket Theatre with Claudette Colbert in Frederick Lonsdale's "Aren't We All?," and also on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre presented by Douglas Urbanski, at the Haymarket in J. M. Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton" with Edward Fox. He revived his Henry Higgins in a highly paid revival of "My Fair Lady" in 1981, cementing his association with the plays of George Bernard Shaw which included a Tony nominated performance as Shotover in "Heartbreak House", Julius Caesar in "Caesar and Cleopatra," and General Burgoyne in a Los Angeles production of "The Devil's Disciple"...

In film

Harrison's film debut was in "The Great Game" (1930), and other notable early films include "The Citadel" (1938), "Night Train to Munich" (1940), "Major Barbara" (1941), "Blithe Spirit" (1945), "Anna and the King of Siam" (1946), "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947), and "The Foxes of Harrow" (1947). He was best known for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in the musical "My Fair Lady", based on the George Bernard Shaw play "Pygmalion", especially after he reprised the role in the 1964 film version, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar. The 1956 cast album set sales records at the time. He revived the role on stage in the early 1980s. He also starred in 1967's "Doctor Dolittle". Harrison was not by general terms a singer; thus, the music was generally written to allow for long periods of recitative, generally identified as "speaking to the music". Although excelling in High Comedy (Noel Coward said "Rex Harrison is the greatest interpreter of high comedy in the world ... next to Me!"citequote), he attracted favourable notices in dramatic roles such as his portrayal of Julius Caesar in "Cleopatra" (1963) and as Pope Julius II in "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965), opposite Charlton Heston as Michelangelo. He also appeared as an aging homosexual man opposite Richard Burton as his lover in "Staircase". He also acted in a Hindi movie Shalimar alongside the Indian Superstar Dharmendra.

Personal life

Harrison's elder sister Sylvia married into the British aristocracy, and was a Vice Charirman of the British Conservative Party in the 1950s.

Harrison was married six times. In 1942 he divorced his first wife, Colette Thomas, and married actress Lilli Palmer the next year; the two later appeared together in numerous plays and films, including "The Fourposter". After several years in film, he achieved wide acclaim starring in the adaptation of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" (1945). He followed that with his first major American film, starring as King Mongkut in "Anna and the King of Siam". 1947 saw the release of the classic "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" opposite Gene Tierney.

In 1947, while married to Palmer, Harrison began an affair with Carole Landis, a fact that eventually became public knowledge. Hollywood blamed Harrison for Landis's 1948 suicide and the scandal resulted in him losing his contract with Fox.Fact|date=December 2007 Harrison and Palmer divorced in 1957. He soon remarried, to actress Kay Kendall. He was subsequently married to Welsh-born Rachel Roberts, who, like Landis, later committed suicide by taking sleeping pills. Harrison then married Elizabeth Rees-Williams and, finally, Mercia Tinker, who would become his widow in 1990.

;Chronology of Harrison's six marriages:
* Colette Thomas (1934-1942), (one son, the actor/singer Noel Harrison)
* Lilli Palmer (1943-1957), (one son, the novelist/playwright Carey Harrison)
* Kay Kendall (1957-1959)
* Rachel Roberts (1962-1971)
* Elizabeth Harris (1971-1975), (three stepsons, Damian Harris, Jared Harris and Jamie Harris)
* Mercia Tinker (1978-1990)

Honors and death

On 25 July 1989, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, while an orchestra played the music of songs from "My Fair Lady".

Having retired from films in the late 1970s, he had continued to act on Broadway until the very end, despite suffering from glaucoma, painful teeth and a failing memory. In 1990 he was appearing on Broadway in The Circle by W. Somerset Maugham, opposite Glynis Johns and Stewart Granger, when he fell ill. [ [ Rex Harrison Back on Broadway] ] It was discovered that he had pancreatic cancer but had been unaware of it, and he died peacefully three weeks later in New York City at the age of 82, causing the show to end prematurely.

Rex Harrison has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one at 6906 Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to motion pictures, and another at 6380 Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to the television industry.


*"The Great Game" (1930)
*"School For Scandal" (1930)
*"Get Your Man" (1934)
*"Leave It to Blanche" (1934)
*"All at Sea" (1935)
*"Men Are Not Gods" (1936)
*"Storm in a Teacup" (1937)
*"School for Husbands" (1937)
*"Sidewalks of London" (1938)
*"The Citadel" (1938)
*"The Silent Battle" (1939)
*"Over the Moon" (1939)
*"Ten Days in Paris" (1940)
*"Night Train to Munich" (1940)
*"Major Barbara" (1941), playing Adolphus Cusins
*"Blithe Spirit" (1945)
*"A Yank in London" (1945)
*"Notorious Gentleman" originally "The Rake's Progress (film)" (1945)
*"Journey Together" (1946)
*"Anna and the King of Siam" (1946)
*"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947)
*"The Foxes of Harrow" (1947)
*"Escape" (1948)
*"Unfaithfully Yours" (1948)
*"" (1949)
*"The Long Dark Hall" (1951)
*"The Four Poster" (1952)
*"Main Street to Broadway" (1953)
*"King Richard and the Crusaders" (1954)
*"The Constant Husband" (1955)
*"The Reluctant Debutante" (1958)
*"Midnight Lace" (1960)
*"The Happy Thieves" (1962)
*"Cleopatra" (1963)
*"My Fair Lady" (1964)
*"The Fairest Fair Lady" (1964)
*"The Yellow Rolls-Royce" (1964)
*"The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965)
*"Flashes Festival" (1965)
*"The Honey Pot" (1967)
*"Doctor Dolittle" (1967)
*"Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen" (1968)
*"A Flea in Her Ear" (1968)
*"Staircase" (1969)
*"Crossed Swords" (1977)
*"Shalimar" (1978)
*"Ashanti" (1979)
*"The Fifth Musketeer" (1979)
*"A Time to Die" (1982)


*Academy Award for Best Actor for "My Fair Lady" (1964)
*New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for "My Fair Lady" (1964)
*National Board of Review Award for Best Actor for "Cleopatra" (1963)
*Golden Glode Award for Best Performance by a actor in a Musical/Comedy for "My Fair Lady" (1964 film)
*Tony Award for Best Actor (Dramatic) for "Anne of the Thousand Days" (1949)
*Tony Award for Best Actor (Musical) for "My Fair Lady" (1957)

Nominations :
*Academy Award for Best Actor for "Cleopatra" (1963)
*BAFTA Award for Best British Actor for "My Fair Lady"
*Tony Award for Best Actor (Play) for "Heartbreak House" (1984)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by a Actor in a Drama for "Cleopatra" (1963 film)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by a actor in a Drama for " The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1966 film)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by a Actor in a Musical/Comedy for "Doctor Dolittle" (1968)


External links

*tcmdb name|81992

NAME= Harrison, Rex
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Harrison, Reginald Carey
DATE OF BIRTH= March 5, 1908
PLACE OF BIRTH= Huyton, Merseyside, England
DATE OF DEATH= June 2, 1990
PLACE OF DEATH= New York City, United States

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  • Rex Harrison — noun English actor on stage and in films (1908 1990) • Syn: ↑Harrison, ↑Sir Rex Harrison, ↑Reginald Carey Harrison • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actor, ↑histrion, ↑player, ↑thespian, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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