Herbert Marshall

Active - 1927 - 1965  |   Born - May 23, 1890   |   Died - Jan 22, 1966   |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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British actor Herbert Marshall was born to a theatrical family, but initially had no intentions of a stage career himself. After graduating from St. Mary's College in Harrow, Marshall became an accounting clerk, turning to acting only when his job failed to interest him. With an equal lack of enthusiasm, Marshall joined a stock company in Brighton, making his stage debut in 1911; he ascended to stardom two years later in the evergreen stage farce, Brewster's Millions. Enlisting in the British Expeditionary Forces during World War I, Marshall was severely wounded and his leg was amputated. While this might normally have signalled the end of a theatrical career, Marshall was outfitted with a prosthesis and determined to make something of himself as an actor; he played a vast array of roles, his physical handicap slowing him down not one iota. In tandem with his first wife, actress Edna Best, Marshall worked on stage in a series of domestic comedies and dramas, then entered motion pictures with Mumsie (1927). His first talking film was the 1929 version of Somerset Maugham's The Letter, which he would eventually film twice, the first time in the role of the heroine's illicit lover, the second time (in 1940) as the cuckolded husband. With Ernst Lubitsch's frothy film Trouble in Paradise (1932), Marshall became a popular romantic lead. Easing gracefully into character parts, the actor continued working into the 1960s; he is probably best remembered for his portrayal of author Somerset Maugham in two separate films based on Maugham's works, The Moon and Sixpence (1942) and The Razor's Edge (1946). Alfred Hitchcock, who'd directed Marshall twice in films, showed the actor to good advantage on the Hitchcock TV series of the 1950s, casting Marshall in one episode as a washed-up matinee idol who wins a stage role on the basis of a totally fabricated life story. Marshall hardly needed to embroider on his real story of his life: he was married five times, and despite his gentlemanly demeanor managed to make occasional headlines thanks to his rambunctious social activities.

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