British Knights

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1.
Kenneth Branagh
Actor, Valkyrie
Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter born in 1930, and Frances (Harper) Branagh, also born in 1930. His brother, William Branagh Jr., was born in 1955 and sister, Joyce Branagh, was born in 1970...
 
2.
Ian McKellen
Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan...
 
3.
John Gielgud
Actor, Gandhi
Sir John Gielgud is a highly distinguished and prolific performer who is considered to be one of the finest actors of his generation. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Gielgud played his first Hamlet in 1930 and quickly established himself as one of the most eminent Shakespearean interpreters of his time...
 
4.
Noël Coward
Writer, Easy Virtue
Noel Coward virtually invented the concept of Englishness for the 20th century. An astounding polymath - dramatist, actor, writer, composer, lyricist, painter, and wit -- he was defined by his Englishness as much as he defined it. He was indeed the first Brit pop star, the first ambassador of "cool Britannia." Even before his 1924 drugs-and-sex scandal of The Vortex...
 
5.
Terence Rattigan
Terence Mervyn Rattigan was born on June 10, 1911, in London, the son of a career diplomat and serial philanderer whose indiscretions resulted in his being cashiered by the Foreign Office. As a member of the lower upper-middle class in the inter-war period, the young Rattigan received a first-rate education at Harrow and Trinity College...
 
6.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Music Department, The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the most successful composer of our time. He is best known for stage and film adaptations of his musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats (1994), Evita, and The Phantom of the Opera. He was born on March 22, 1948, in South Kensington in London, England, the first of two sons of William Lloyd Webber...
 
8.
Tim Rice
Music Department, Aladdin
A prolific lyricist and librettist, Tim Rice was born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, in the fall of 1944. Rice pursued his university education at Lancing College and, briefly, at l'Universite de Paris - Sorbonne. He was considering a legal career around the time that he met Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1965. Three years later...
 
10.
Norman Wisdom
He joined the army at 14 as a band boy and learnt to play the clarinet, drums and xylophone. He went to India with the army in 1941 and became a comedian by clowning around in camp concerts. When demobbed he returned home and decided to try to get on the stage but couldn't find an agent who was interested in him...
 
11.
Michael Parkinson
Producer, Parkinson
Michael Parkinson was educated at Barnsley Grammar School. He left at the age of 16 and his ambition of becoming a professional cricketer was dashed when he was rejected by Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He turned to journalism, worked on several local newspapers in Yorkshire before joining the Manchester Guardian...
 
12.
Ridley Scott
Producer, Blade Runner
Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. Following his commercial breakthrough with the science-fiction horror film Alien (1979), his best known works are the noir science fiction film Blade Runner (1982), crime drama Thelma & Louise (1991), historical drama and Best Picture Oscar winner Gladiator (2000)...
 
13.
Michael Caine
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean War, where he saw combat...
 
14.
Roger Moore
Roger Moore will perhaps always be remembered as the man who replaced Sean Connery in the James Bond series, arguably something he never lived down. Roger George Moore was born on October 14, 1927 in Stockwell, London, England, the son of Lillian (Pope) and George Alfred Moore, a policeman. He first wanted to be an artist...
 
15.
Sean Connery
Actor, Dr. No
Connery's breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond. He was reluctant to commit to a film series, but understood that if the films succeeded his career would greatly benefit. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball...
 
16.
Michael Redgrave
Sir Michael Redgrave was of the generation of English actors that gave the world the legendary John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Britain three fabled "Theatrical Knights" back in the days when a knighthood for thespian was far more rare than it is today. A superb actor, Redgrave...
 
17.
Ralph Richardson
Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was quickly followed Laurence Olivier in 1948...
 
19.
John Clements
Actor, Gandhi
John Clements hailed from southern England and was educated at St Paul's School in London and St John's College, Cambridge. His acting aspiration prompted his first stage appearance at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1930 in the play "Out of the Blue". Through the 1930s, he continued to develop his acting skills touring with the Ben Greet Company...
 
21.
Antony Sher
Born in 1949, Antony Sher was raised in South Africa before going to London to study at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art between 1969 and 1971. After performing for the theatre group "Gay Sweatshop" in "Thinking Straight" (1975), "The Fork" (1976) and "Stone" (1976), Sher joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982...
 
22.
Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, to Gladys (Barrowclough), a textile worker and weaver, and Alfred Stewart, who was in the army. He was a member of various local drama groups from about age 12. He left school at age 15 to work as a junior reporter on a local paper; he quit when his editor told him he was spending too much time at the theatre and not enough working...
 
23.
Elton John
Music Department, The Lion King
Sir Elton John is one of pop music's great survivors. Born 25 March, 1947, as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he started to play the piano at the early age of four. At the age of 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His first band was called Bluesology. He later auditioned (unsuccessfully) as lead singer for the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Gentle Giant...
 
24.
Paul McCartney
Music Department, A Hard Day's Night
Sir Paul McCartney is a key figure in contemporary culture as a singer, composer, poet, writer, artist, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and holder of more than 3 thousand copyrights. He is in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most records sold, most #1s (shared), most covered song, "Yesterday," largest paid audience for a solo concert (350,000+ people...
 
26.
Bob Geldof
Writer, Live Aid
Bob Geldof was frontman for the late '70s to mid '80s Irish punk rock band the Boomtown Rats. He also conceived and co-wrote Band Aid's tune "Do They Know It's Christmas?" with his friend, musician Midge Ure of Ultravox, which became the 1984 Christmas number one in the UK and the best-selling British pop single until that time...
 
27.
Steven Spielberg
Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in the history of film, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer...
 
28.
Edward R. Murrow
Pioneering radio and TV reporter who was the dominant figure in American broadcast journalism during its early years. His dramatic, in-person coverage of the 1938 German occupation of Austria, the 1939 German blitzkrieg against Czechoslovakia and the 10-month-long Battle of Britain, fought in the skies between 1940 and 1941...
 
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32.
Steve Redgrave
Sir Steven Geoffrey Redgrave is a retired British rower who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000. He has also won three Commonwealth Games gold medals and nine World Rowing Championships golds. He is regarded as one of Britain's greatest-ever Olympians, the most successful male rower in Olympic history...
 
33.
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
 
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35.
Tom Courtenay
Acting chameleon Sir Tom Courtenay, along with Sirs Alan Bates and Albert Finney, became front-runners in an up-and-coming company of rebel upstarts who created quite a stir in British "kitchen sink" cinema during the early 60s. An undying love for the theatre, however, had Courtenay channeling a different course than the afore-mentioned greats and he never...
 
36.
Laurence Olivier
Actor, Rebecca
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
 
37.
Cecil Beaton
Costume Designer, My Fair Lady
 
39.
Richard Attenborough
Lord Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. Attenborough...
 
40.
David Attenborough
Born 8 May 1926, the younger brother of actor Lord Richard Attenborough. He never expressed a wish to act and, instead, studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, graduating in 1947, the year he began his two years National Service in the Royal Navy. In 1952, he joined BBC Television at Alexandra Palace and...
 
41.
Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, he was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He is also known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946)...
 
42.
Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies, which he made with his friends...
 
43.
Michael Balcon
Michael Balcon started in films as a distributor, then a producer from the early 1920s, helping to launch the career of Alfred Hitchcock. In the 1930s, Balcon was prominent in building up a huge annual production programme of films for both Gainsborough and Gaumont-British. Head of MGM-British, 1936-38...
 
44.
Michael Gambon
Sir Michael Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland, to Mary (Hoare), a seamstress, and Edward Gambon, an engineer. After joining the National Theatre, under the Artistic Directorship of Sir Laurence Olivier, Gambon went on to appear in a number of leading roles in plays written by Alan Ayckbourn...
 
46.
Nigel Hawthorne
Actor, Amistad
Born in Coventry, England on 5 April 1929. Raised in South Africa. Returned to the UK in the 1950s. Extensive theatre work in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His portrayal of "Sir Humphrey Appleby" in the BBC comedy Yes Minister won him international acclaim in the 1980s. In 1992, he was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for his "George III" in Alan Bennett's hit stage play...
 
48.
Alfred Hitchcock
Director, Psycho
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
 
49.
Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
Charles Chaplin was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona "the Tramp" and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years...
 
50.
Alan Bates
If there was ever an actor whose choice of film projects suggested a pure love of acting rather than an interest in commercial gain, it would have to be Alan Bates. A supremely talented and versatile actor, Bates hasn't attained the stardom of far lesser performers because of his preference for challenging and interesting work and an avoidance of being type-cast...
 
51.
Alan Parker
Director, Evita
Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam as his producer (Puttnam had been a photographers' agent)...
 
52.
André Previn
Music Department, Fight Club
 
54.
Anthony Quayle
Anthony Quayle was born in Ainsdale in September 1913, the son of a Lancashire lawyer. He completed his education at Rugby School and had a brief spell at RADA, before treading the boards for the first time as the straight man in a music hall comedy act in 1931. Tall, burly, round-faced and possessed of a powerful and resonant voice...
 
55.
Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during the 1960s. He soon became a successful stage actor...
 
56.
Dirk Bogarde
Sir Dirk Bogarde, distinguished film actor and writer, was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde on March 28, 1921, to Ulric van den Bogaerde, the art editor of "The Times" (London) newspaper, and actress Margaret Niven in the London suburb of Hampstead. He was one of three children...
 
57.
J.M. Barrie
Writer, Hook
 
59.
Richard Rodney Bennett
Richard Rodney Bennett was an eclectic composer of serious orchestral works, jazz songs and music for stage and screen. Of the former, his most famous compositions include a First Symphony, a piano concerto and four string quartets. Among the latter are scores for operas, such as the dramatic "The Mines of Sulphur" and the more light-hearted and satirical "A Penny for a Song"...
 
60.
Robert Helpmann
Son of James Murray Helpmann & Mary (nee Gardiner), he was educated at Prince Alfred's College, Adelaide, South Australia. He first danced solo at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide in The Ugly Duckling in 1922. He went on to become the pricipal dancer at Sadlers Wells ballet from 1933 to 1950. World renowned as a dancer and choreographer...
 
64.
Alastair Burnet
Alastair Burnet joined ITN in 1963, becoming Political Editor. In 1967, he switched to newscasting full-time, persuading ITV and ITN bosses to make Britian's first regular daily 30-minute news bulletin, News At Ten. [Before 1967 news bulletins lasted roughly 15 minutes.] He presented the first bulletin on 3rd July 1967 with the late Andrew Gardner...
 
65.
Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it be Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film...
 
66.
Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke was born in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England in December 16, 1917. In 1936 he moved to London, where he joined the British Interplanetary Society. There he started to experiment with astronautic material in the BIS, write the BIS Bulletin and science fiction. During World War II...
 
67.
Carol Reed
Director, The Third Man
Carol Reed was the second son of stage actor, dramatics teacher and impresario founder of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Reed was one of Tree's six illegitimate children with Beatrice Mae Pinney, who Tree established in a second household apart from his married life. There were no social scars here; Reed grew up in a well-mannered...
 
68.
C. Aubrey Smith
Actor, Rebecca
Movie roles are sometimes based upon what the audience expects to see. If the role called for the tall stereotypical Englishmen with the stiff upper lip and stern determination, that man would be C. Aubrey Smith, graduate of Cambridge University, a leading Freemason and a test cricketer for England...
 
70.
Cedric Hardwicke
Actor, Rope
Sir Cedric Hardwicke, one of the great character actors in the first decades of the talking picture, was born in Lye, England on February 19, 1893. Hardwicke attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his stage debut in 1912. His career was interrupted by military service in World War I, but he returned to the stage in 1922 with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre...
 
71.
Peter Hall
Sir Peter Hall directed his first play while he was still a student. He soon achieved prominence as a stage director and costume designer. He started his occasional film work in 1968 with Work Is a 4-Letter Word. He was the Artistic Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon from 1960 - 1968...
 
72.
Mick Jagger
Soundtrack, The Departed
Michael Philip Jagger was born in Dartford, Kent on 26th July 1943. When he was 4 he met Keith Richards until they went into secondary schools and lost touch. But one day in 1960 they accidentally met on the Dartford train line and both realized that they had an interest in rock n roll combined with blues...
 
73.
Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard burst onto the rock'n'roll world in 1958 with his hit single Move It. He was then known as Britain's answer to Elvis Presley. His first film was Serious Charge followed by Expresso Bongo, Wonderful to Be Young! and Summer Holiday. Wonderful to Be Young! and Summer Holiday were both massive hits for Cliff in Britain and overseas where Cliff was now a major pop star...
 
74.
David Jason
Sir David Jason was born in Edmonton, London, in 1940. He has become one of Britain's most famous and respected actors. He is a versatile actor who is most famously known for his role in Only Fools and Horses.... as Del Boy. He made his debut as DelBoy back in 1981 and was still playing the same role up to the Christmas special in 2002...
 
75.
Derek Jacobi
Actor, Gladiator
Preeminent British classical actor of the first post-Olivier generation, Derek Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre, and, in fact, is only the second to enjoy the honor of holding TWO knighthoods, Danish and English (Olivier was the other). Modest and unassuming in nature, Jacobi's...
 
76.
David Lean
David Lean was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor, best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). He is also known for the Dickens adaptations of Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948), as well as the romantic drama Brief Encounter (1945)...
 
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Donald Sinden
The son of a country chemist, the British actor Donald Sinden intended to pursue a career in architecture but was spotted in an amateur theatrical production and asked to join a company that entertained the troops during World War II (Sinden was rejected for naval service because of asthma). Following a brief training at drama school...
 
80.
Donald Wolfit
One of the great British stage actors of his era Donald Wolfit was noted for his magnificent portrayals of King Lear and Tamburlaine. Yet no actor of his generation was surrounded by more controversy. He was temperamental and difficult to deal with, enraged by criticism and tyrannical with the companies he led...
 
81.
John Dankworth
Music Department, The Servant
Attended the Royal Academy of Music beginning at the age of 17. His first American professional appearance occurred at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 3, 1959. He founded the London Symphony Orchestra's Pops Program and served as the orchestra's Pops Musical Director.
 
84.
Edward Elgar
Soundtrack, Forrest Gump
Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857, in Broadheath, near Worcester, where his father named William Elgar, was a music shop owner and a piano technician. Elgar was the fourth of six children. He was self-taught in all musical instruments, that were at his disposal in his father's shop, and he studied all the sheet music available in the shop...
 
86.
Edward Heath
Edward Heath was born in 1916 in Broadstairs, Kent. His father was a carpenter, his mother was a maid and his background was very modest. He attended Balliol College at Oxford, where he earned a second-class degree in philosophy, politics and economics. He got active in Conservative Party politics while at Oxford...
 
87.
Winston Churchill
Born in Blenheim Palace, the residence of his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His father was the Duke's third son, Lord Randolph Churchill. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American financier. After passing through famous English public schools such as Harrow, he went on to fulfill his ambition for a life in the army...
 
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Frederick Treves
Frederick Treves was a famous pioneer in abdominal surgery. Today he is mostly remembered as the physician to the Elephant Man. On May 4, 1901, Treves was knighted by King Edward VII on whom he had performed an appendicectomy.
 
93.
Felix Aylmer
Actor, Henry V
British character actor Felix Aylmer was educated at Oxford and later studied drama, making his stage debut at the London Coliseum in 1911. During World War I he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and resumed his stage career after the war ended. He entered films in 1930 and stayed in them for the next 40 years...
 
94.
Johnston Forbes-Robertson
Johnston Forbes-Robertson (1853-1937) was an English actor and theatrical impresario that George Bernard Shaw and other critics considered to be the finest Hamlet of his generation. Forbes-Robertson had trained to be an artist and was not overly fond of acting, but he took to the boards to make a living...
 
96.
W.S. Gilbert
William Schwenck Gilbert was born in London on November 18, 1836, to William Gilbert, a retired naval surgeon, and his wife Anne. The Gilberts would add three younger girls to the brood: Jane, Maud and Florence. His parents were cold and distant, with prickly characters. Stern and unyielding, they did not show affection for their son...
 
97.
Godfrey Tearle
Godfrey Seymour Tearle was born in 1884, the son of British actor/manager George (Osmond) Tearle and American actress Marianne Conway (her second marriage). His father and uncle were first-generation acting Tearles, and his mother also came from a family of actors. It seems that Godfrey's destiny was set at birth...
 
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99.
Ian Holm
Sir Ian Holm is an Academy Award-nominated British film and stage actor who was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and played more than 100 roles in films and on television. He was born Ian Holm Cuthbert on September 12, 1931, in Goodmayes, Essex, UK, to Scottish parents who worked at the Essex mental asylum...
 
100.
Ronald Harwood
Writer, The Pianist
Born in South-Africa in 1934, Ronald Harwood moved to London in 1951 to pursue a career in the theater. After attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he joined the Shakespeare Company of Sir Donald Wolfit, one of the last 'actor-manager' of Great-Britain. From 1953 to 1958, Harwood became the personal dresser of Sir Donald...