Jack Hawkins

Active - 1930 - 2018  |   Born - Sep 14, 1910 in Wood Green, London, England  |   Died - Jul 18, 1973   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Crime, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Crusty, craggy British leading man Jack Hawkins began as a child actor, studying at the Italia Court School of Acting. After his first film, 1930's Birds of Prey, Hawkins languished for several years in secondary roles before achieving minor stardom by the end of the '30s. During the war, Hawkins was a colonel in ENSA, the British equivalent of the USO. He became a major movie "name" in the postwar era, often as coolly efficient military officers in such films as The Cruel Sea (1953), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The League of Gentlemen (1961), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962, as General Allenby). He was considered an Academy Award shoe-in for his portrayal of Quintus Arrius in 1959's Ben-Hur, but the "Best Supporting Actor Oscar" went to another actor in that blockbuster, Hugh Griffith. Around this same time, Hawkins was one of four rotating stars in the J. Arthur Rank-produced TV series The Four Just Men; the other three were Vittorio de Sica, Dan Dailey and Richard Conte. In 1966, Hawkins underwent an operation for cancer of the larynx. Though the operation cost him his voice, publicity releases indicated that Hawkins was training himself to talk again with an artificial device -- and also that he defiantly continued chain-smoking. Hawkins remained in films until his death, but his dialogue had to be dubbed by others. In his next-to-last film Theatre of Blood (1973), he was effectively cast in a substantial role that required no dialogue whatsoever -- something that the viewer realizes only in retrospect. Ironically, Hawkins' biography was titled Anything for a Quiet Life. Jack Hawkins was married twice, to actresses Jessica Tandy and Doreen Lawrence.

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  • Studied acting at the Italia Conti Academy in London as a child.
  • Performed for British troops during World War II as part of the Entertainments National Service Association.
  • Had his larynx removed in 1966 as a result of throat cancer.
  • Continued acting after losing the ability to speak by having all of his dialogue dubbed.
  • Released a memoir titled Anything for a Quiet Life.