Cedric Hardwicke

Active - 1926 - 2005  |   Born - Feb 19, 1883   |   Died - Aug 6, 1964   |   Genres - Drama, Historical Film, Adventure

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

British actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke's physician father was resistant to his son's chosen profession; nonetheless, the elder Hardwicke paid Cedric's way through the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. The actor was fortunate enough to form a lasting friendship with playwright George Bernard Shaw, who felt that Hardwicke was the finest actor in the world (Shaw's other favorites were the Four Marx Brothers). Working in Shavian plays like Heartbreak House, Major Barbara and The Apple Cart throughout most of the 1920s and 1930s in England, Hardwicke proved that he was no one-writer actor with such roles as Captain Andy in the London production of the American musical Show Boat. After making his first film The Dreyfus Case in 1931, Hardwicke worked with distinction in both British and American films, though his earliest attempts at becoming a Broadway favorite were disappointments. Knighted for his acting in 1934, Hardwicke's Hollywood career ran the gamut from prestige items like Wilson (1944), in which he played Henry Cabot Lodge, to low-budget gangster epics like Baby Face Nelson (1957), where he brought a certain degree of tattered dignity to the role of a drunken gangland doctor. As proficient at directing as he was at acting, Hardwicke unfortunately was less successful as a businessman. Always a step away from his creditors, he found himself taking more and more journeyman assignments as he got older. Better things came his way with a successful run in the 1960 Broadway play A Majority of One and several tours with Charles Laughton, Agnes Moorehead and Charles Boyer in the "reader's theatre" staging of Shaw's Don Juan in Hell. A talented writer, Hardwicke wrote two autobiographies, the last of these published in 1961 as A Victorian in Orbit. It was here that he wittily but ruefully observed that "God felt sorry for actors, so he gave them a place in the sun and a swimming pool. The price they had to pay was to surrender their talent."

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography