Leo Genn

Leo Genn

Infobox actor
name=Leo Genn

caption=in "The Miniver Story" (1950)
birthdate=birth date|1905|8|9|df=y
birthplace=London, England
deathdate=death date and age|1978|1|26|1905|8|9|df=y
deathplace=London, England

Leo John Genn (August 9, 1905January 26, 1978) was an English actor on stage and in films.

He was born at 144 Kyverdale Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, London, England. His father, Woolfe (William) Genn, was a jewelry salesman and the maiden name of his mother, Rachel, was Asserson.

Genn attended the City of London School and studied law at Cambridge, qualifying as a barrister in 1928. He ceased practising as a lawyer soon after the Second World War. On 14th May 1933, Genn married the former Marguerite van Praag, a casting director at Ealing Studios. They had no children.

Genn's first film role was as Shylock in "Immortal Gentleman" (1935) a bio of Shakespeare. However, he had been associated with the London stage as early as 1930, when actor/manager Leon M. Lion engaged him simultaneously as an actor and an attorney. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. hired Genn as a technical advisor on the 1936 movie, "Accused" and he was subsequently given a small part in the picture on the strength of a "splendid voice and presence". Genn received another small role in Alexander Korda's "The Drum" (1938) and was the young man who danced with Eliza Doolittle at the duchess's ball in "Pygmalion", a film made in the same year, although his name is not in the credits. Also in 1938, Genn appeared in the theatrical hit, "The Flashing Stream" and went with the show to America and Broadway.

During World War II Genn served in the Royal Artillery, being made Lieutenant Colonel in 1943. In 1944, the actor was given official leave to appear as the Constable of France in Laurence Olivier's "Henry V". Genn was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1945. He was part of the British unit that investigated war crimes at Belsen concentration camp and later was an assistant prosecutor at the trial for Belsen in Luneburg, Germany. Between September 1934 and March 1936, Leo Genn was a member of the Old Vic Company where he appeared in many productions of Shakespeare. His many other stage performances included Morgan's "The Flashing Stream", Lillian Hellman's "Another Part of the Forest", "12 Angry Men", "The Devil's Advocate", Maugham's "The Sacred Flame", and Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra".

After his success in "Quo Vadis" (1951), Genn became stuck in a series of rather forgettable American films, such as "The Girls of Pleasure Island", and "Plymouth Adventure" (1952), a fictionalized, but entertaining soap opera treatment of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock. He fared far better in a British picture, "Personal Affair" (1953), starring opposite Gene Tierney. He played Major Michael Pemberton in Rossellini's remarkable and largely forgotten 1960 film, "Era Notte a Roma". The filmography, below, is a far from complete one. Leo Genn narrated both the coronation programmes of 1937 and 1953 [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238961/] .

Genn was a Governor of The Mermaid Theatre and trustee of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. He was also council member of the Arts Educational Trust. He was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theatre Arts, Pennsylvania State University, 1968 and Visiting Professor of Drama, University of Utah, 1969.

Genn died January 26, 1978 in London from pneumonia, complications of a heart attack.

Selected Filmography

*1944 "Tunisian Victory, (narrator)
*1944 "Henry V"
*1946 "Green for Danger"
*1947 "Mourning Becomes Electra"
*1948 "The Snake Pit"; "The Velvet Touch"
*1950 "The Wooden Horse"
*1951 "Quo Vadis?" (Petronius)
*1952 "Plymouth Adventure", William Bradford (1590-1657)
*1953 "Elizabeth is Queen" (documentary, narrator)
*1953 "Personal Affair"
*1953 "The Red Beret"
*1958 "I Accuse!" (Col. Picquard)
*1956 "Moby Dick" (Starbuck)
*1960 "Era Notte a Roma" (Major Pemberton)
*1962 "The Longest Day"
*1963 "55 Days at Peking"
*1964 "The Delhi Way", narrator (documentary directed by James Ivory)
*1966 "Khartoum", narrator
*1968 "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Dr. Lanyon) (Made-for-TV)
*1970 "Connecting Rooms"

He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of
Petronius in "Quo Vadis".


* 1962 "An Act of Faith", BBC documentary on Coventry Cathedral, narrated by Leo Genn
* 1965 "Cat's Cradle" by Hugo Charteris, BBC Television
*1970 Howards End with Glenda Jackson, BBC Television
* appearances on British & American television


* 1965 "The Skin Game", by John Galsworthy, BBC radio

External links

*imdb name|id=0312890|name=Leo Genn
* [http://www.bris.ac.uk/theatrecollection/search/people_sub_plays_all?forename=Leo&surname=GENN&job=Actor&pid=460&image_view=Yesamp;x=19amp;y=17| Theatre performances by Leo Genn 1934-1953]
*ibdb name| id=41936| name=Leo Genn

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