Internationally acclaimed British stage star Maurice Evans is celebrated for his lyrical speaking voice and his great performances in the classics. The son of an amateur playwright, he sang professionally as a boy and later acted in his father's adaptations of Thomas Hardy's novels. In 1926 he made his professional stage debut, and first appeared on the London stage the following year. While establishing his reputation he supported himself by running a cleaning and dyeing establishment. In 1929 his triumphant performance in Journey's End allowed him to become a full-time actor. He appeared in a handful of British films from 1930-35, but otherwise remained exclusively a stage actor. He joined the Old Vic company in 1934, then moved to the U.S. in 1935, when he began a long and illustrious career on Broadway; he was most revered for his work in plays by Shakespeare and Shaw. In 1941 he became a U.S. citizen. During World War II he was put in charge of the Army Entertainment Section, Central Pacific Theater; with the rank of major, he toured Pacific military bases in a streamlined version of Hamlet. He returned to the screen in 1951 in Kind Lady opposite Ethel Barrymore, but again went on to make only a few films over the next two decades, none of which matched the stature of his stage productions. His best-known role was as the ape Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes (1968) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). He also did much work on TV, most memorably on the sitcom Bewitched, in which he played Elizabeth Montgomery's warlock father.
by Rovi biography