Michael Rennie always claimed that he "turned actor" to escape becoming an executive for his family's wool business. The Cambridge-educated Rennie haunted the casting offices until he was hired by Alfred Hitchcock for his first film, The Secret Agent (1936). Handsome but hollow, Rennie decided that if he was to be a film star, he'd better learn to act, thus he spent several seasons with the York Repertory. Serving in World War II as a flying officer in the RAF, Rennie came to the United States for the first time to be a training instructor in Georgia. Small roles in postwar British films led to a 20th Century Fox contract. It was during his stay at Fox that Rennie truly began to blossom with major roles in 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Klaatu), 1952's Les Miserables (as Jean Valjean), 1953's The Robe, and many other films. On television, Michael Rennie spent two years and 76 episodes portraying suave soldier of fortune Harry Lime on the syndicated series The Third Man. Rennie died of emphysema on June 10, 1971.
by Hal Erickson biography