Canadian actor Alexander Knox launched his stage career in Britain in 1929; two years later he made his film film, The Ringer. After a successful British stage career, Knox came to America in 1941, where he found steady film work playing learned types. In The Sea Wolf (1941), Knox was the pedantic Weyland, the opponent/doppelganger of brutish sea captain Wolf Larsen (Edward G. Robinson); while in This Above All (1942), Knox lent credibility to his role as clergyman who does but really doesn't condone a clandestine love affair. Knox's most daunting American film assignment was the title role in Wilson (1944), producer Darryl F. Zanuck's budget-busting valentine to the 28th president of the United States. Too healthy and fit to be totally convincing as Woodrow Wilson, Knox nonetheless sustained audience interest in an otherwise ponderous film marathon, and received an Oscar nomination -- which he might have won had not Wilson been one of the most conspicuous failures in Hollywood history. Nonetheless, the film allowed Knox to command star billing for his next few American pictures, including the enjoyable 1949 outing The Judge Steps Out, a light comedy loosely based on the Judge Crater disappearance. In the early 1950s, Knox found himself playing a few villains, at least until Hollywood's doors closed on him during the Blacklist era (that a man who once played a U.S. president should even be suspected of subversive leanings is quite ironic). The actor returned to Britain for choice character roles in such films as The Sleeping Tiger (1954), The Night My Number Came Up (1955) and Oscar Wilde (1957). In 1967, Knox was signed up for a term as a fictional U.S. president in the James Bond extravaganza You Only Live Twice (1967). Active in films until the mid 1980s, Knox also kept busy as a screenwriter and mystery novelist.
by Hal Erickson biography