Leo G. Carroll

Active - 1934 - 1969  |   Born - Oct 25, 1892 in Weedon, England  |   Died - Oct 16, 1972   |   Genres - Drama, Spy Film, Adventure, Mystery, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Leo G. Carroll was the son of an Irish-born British military officer. The younger Carroll had intended to follow in his father's footsteps, but his World War I experiences discouraged him from pursuing a military career. On the British stage from the age of sixteen, Carroll settled in the U.S. in 1924, playing such plum theatrical roles as the title character in The Late George Apley. In films from 1934, Carroll often portrayed shy, self-effacing Britishers who, in "Uriah-Heep" fashion, used their humility to hide a larcenous or homicidal streak. Reportedly Alfred Hitchcock's favorite actor, Carroll was seen in half a dozen Hithcock films, notably Spellbound (1946) (as the scheming psychiatrist) and North by Northwest (1959) (as the dry-witted CIA agent). A "method actor" before the term was invented, Carroll was known to immerse himself in his roles, frequently confounding strangers by approaching them "in character." Leo G. Carroll was always a welcome presence on American television, starring as Topper in the "ghostly" sitcom of the same name, and co-starring as Father Fitzgibbons in Going My Way (1962) and Alexander Waverly on The Man From UNCLE (1964-68).

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  • Named after Pope Leo XIII, who was Pope at the time of his birth.
  • Worked as a wine trade clerk as a teenager.
  • Served in the British Army in World War I.
  • Made his film debut in 1934 in Sadie McKee.
  • Appeared in six Alfred Hitchcock films: Rebecca, Suspicion, Spellbound, The Paradine Case, Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest.
  • Starred in the TV series Topper, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. 
  • Died in 1972 of pneumonia brought on by cancer.
  • Mentioned in the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.