A stage actor in the British Isles from 1894, Henry Travers settled permanently in America in 1901. Even as a comparative youngster, the pudding-faced, wispy-voiced Travers specialized in portraying befuddled old men. He was brought to Hollywood in 1933 to recreate his stage role as Father Krug in Robert E. Sherwood's Reunion in Vienna. Though often cast in amiable, self-effacing roles, Travers was perfectly capable of meatier stuff: as a downtrodden Chinese farmer in Dragon Seed (1944), he delivers a terse monologue describing how he has regained his self respect by beating his shrewish wife! Travers' best-remembered movie assignments included his Oscar-nominated portrayal of British postman Mr. Ballard in Mrs. Miniver (1942); his amusing turn as bank clerk and mystery-magazine fanatic Joseph Newton in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943); and, of course, his matchless performance as wingless guardian angel Clarence Oddbody in the Yuletide perennial It's a Wonderful Life (1946). After several years in retirement, Henry Travers died of arteriosclerosis at the age of 91.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Had a long stage career, first in the United Kingdom and then in the U.S., making his Broadway debut in The Price of Peace in 1901.
- Transitioned from Broadway to Hollywood by recreating his stage role in Reunion in Vienna for the big-screen version in 1933.
- Portrayed Clarence the angel in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
- Died of arteriosclerosis at age 91.
- Is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.