Henry Wilcoxon

Active - 1931 - 1995  |   Born - Sep 8, 1905 in Roseau, Dominica, British West Indies  |   Died - Mar 6, 1984   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Romance, Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Chiselled-featured leading man Henry Wilcoxon was born in the West Indies to British parents. He cut his theatrical teeth with the prestigious Birmingham Repertory Theater, then went on to play several leads in London. While starring in the stage play Eight Bells, Wilcoxon was selected to play Marc Antony in Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra (1934). Thus began a 25-year association with DeMille, during which time Wilcoxon functioned as actor, casting director, associate producer, producer, and close friend. When asked by interviewer Leonard Maltin about his experiences with C.B., Wilcoxon replied genially, "Does your tape last about ten hours?" Outside of the DeMille orbit, Henry Wilcoxon played leading and character parts in such films as The Last of the Mohicans (1936), If I Were King (1938), Tarzan Finds a Son (1939), Mrs. Miniver (1942) (as the jingoistic minister), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), The War Lord (1965), and FIST (1978); he also worked extensively in television, guest starring on such programs as I Spy and Marcus Welby, M.D..

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  • In early life, made a living as a salvage diver, tailor and prizefighter.
  • Badly burned his hands during the filming of 1941's Lady Hamilton, when he extinguished a flaming wig on Laurence Olivier's head.
  • Served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II and attained the rank of lieutenant.
  • His brother, Robert Owen Wilcoxon, was killed in 1940 while assisting troops during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
  • Starred in and produced a number of films with his good friend Cecil B. DeMille.
  • In 1980's Caddyshack, played the golf-obsessed Bishop Pickering, who is struck by lightning during a storm after being told by his caddy (Bill Murray) to "keep playing. I don't think the heavy stuff's gonna come down for quite awhile."
  • His 1991 posthumously published autobiography is titled Lionheart in Hollywood, a reference to him having played King Richard the Lionhearted in 1935's The Crusades.