John Laurie

Active - 1930 - 1980  |   Born - Mar 25, 1897 in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire  |   Died - Jun 23, 1980   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Adventure, War, Romance

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Bantam-weight Scotsman John Laurie abandoned a career in architecture when he first stepped on stage in 1921. Laurie spent most of the next five decades playing surly, snappish types: the taciturn farmer who betrays fugitive Robert Donat in Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935), the repugnant Blind Pew in Disney's Treasure Island (1950) et. al. A friend and favorite of Laurence Olivier, Laurie showed up in all three of Olivier's major Shakespearean films. He played Captain Jamie in Henry V (1944), Francisco ("For this relief, much thanks") in Hamlet (1948) and Lord Lovel in Richard III (1955). Intriguingly, Olivier and Laurie portrayed the same historical character in two entirely different films. Both portrayed the Mahdi, scourge of General "Chinese" Gordon: Laurie essayed the part in The Four Feathers (1939), while Olivier played the role in Khartoum (1965). Millions of TV fans worldwide have enjoyed Laurie in the role of Fraser on the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. One of John Laurie's few starring assignments was in the 1935 film Edge of the World, set on the remote Shetland isle of Foula; 40 years later, a frail-looking Laurie was one of the participants in director Michael Powell's "reunion" documentary Return to the Edge of the World (1978).

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