Donald Wolfit

Active - 1935 - 1968  |   Born - Apr 20, 1902   |   Died - Feb 17, 1968   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

One of the last of England's great actor/managers, Donald Wolfit began his stage career in 1920. Wolfit made his well-received London debut in The Wandering Jew, and by 1929 was a member in good standing of the Old Vic. In 1937, he formed his own company, specializing in abridged versions of Shakespeare. During the darkest days of the Battle of Britain, Wolfit and his players gave over 100 morale-boosting lunchtime performances. It was for this patriotic effort, coupled with his theatrical accomplishments, that Wolfit was knighted in 1957. Though he made his first film in 1934, he didn't turn to moviemaking on a full-time basis until the 1950s. He starred in 1954's Svengali, and also essayed such colorful character roles as Sgt. Buzfuz in Pickwick Papers (1953), Mercier in I Accuse (1958), and General Murray in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He also showed up in a couple of horror films, never giving less than his best even when the material wasn't there. Toward the end of his career, Wolfit starred in the 1962 TV series The Ghost Squad. Wolfit's career and personality served as the inspiration for Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser. Married three times, Sir Donald Wolfit's third wife was actress Rosalind Iden, with whom he frequently co-starred.

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