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Leo G. Carroll Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (7)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 25 October 1886Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Date of Death 16 October 1972Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia brought on by cancer)
Birth NameLeo Gratten Carroll
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

One of the most indispensable of character actors, Leo G. Carroll was already involved in the business of acting as a schoolboy in Gilbert & Sullivan productions. Aged 16, he portrayed an old man in 'Liberty Hall'. In spite of the fact, that he came from a military family, and , perhaps, because of his experience during World War I, he decided against a military career in order to pursue his love of the theatre. In 1911, he had been a stage manager/actor in 'Rutherford and Son' and the following year took this play to America. Twelve years later, Leo took up permanent residence in the United States. His first performance on Broadway was in 'Havoc' (1924) with Claud Allister, followed by Noël Coward's 'The Vortex' (1925, as Paunceford Quentin). Among his subsequent successes on the stage were 'The Green Bay Tree' (1933) as Laurence Olivier's manservant, 'Angel Street' (aka 'Gaslight',1941) as Inspector Rough, and the 'The Late George Apley' (title role). The latter, a satire on Boston society, opened in November 1944 and closed almost exactly a year later. A reviewer for the New York times, Lewis Nichols, wrote "His performance is a wonderful one. The part of Apley easily could become caricature but Mr.Carroll will have none of that. He plays the role honestly and softly." The play was filmed in 1947, with Ronald Colman in the lead role. Leo's film career began in 1934. He was cast, to begin with, in smallish parts. Sometimes they were prestige 'A pictures', usually period dramas, such as The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) and Wuthering Heights (1939).

Leo was a consummate method actor who truly 'lived' the parts he played, and, as a prominent member of Hollywood's British colony, attracted the attention of Alfred Hitchcock. Indeed, the famous director liked him so much, that he preferred him to any American actor to play the part of a U.S. senator in Strangers on a Train (1951). A scene stealer even in supporting roles, Leo G. Carroll lent a measure of 'gravitas' to most of his performances, point in case that of the homicidal Dr. Murchison in Spellbound (1945) (relatively little screen time, but much impact !) and the professor in North by Northwest (1959). On the small screen, Leo lent his dignified, urbane presence and dry wit to the characters of Cosmo Topper and Alexander Waverly, spymaster and boss of Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), the part for which he is chiefly remembered.

Leo G. Carroll appeared in over 300 plays during his career and the stage remained his preferred medium. He once remarked "It's brought me much pleasure of the mind and heart. I owe the theatre a great deal. It owes me nothing" (NY Times, October 19,1972).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Edith Nancy de Silva (24 July 1926 - 16 October 1972) (his death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Has played in more Alfred Hitchcock films (Rebecca, Suspicion, Spellbound, The Paradine Case, Strangers On A Train, and North By Northwest) than any other actor except Hitchcock himself (cameos in most of his films since his 1926 The Lodger).
Fatherly patrician characters
Craggy face

Trivia (7)

Born to a wealthy English Catholic family, he was named after the reigning Pope at the time of his birth, Leo XIII (1810 - 1903, reigned 1878 - 1903)
Was one of the first actors to play the same character (Alexander Waverly) on two different television series: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964) and its spin-off, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1966) . Others actors who have done this are Gale Gordon, Frank Cady, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks, Marla Gibbs, David Hasselhoff and Fred Dalton Thompson.
Made his Broadway debut in K.G. Sowerby's play Rutherford & Son at the Little Theatre on December 24, 1912. He last appeared on the Great White Way over 40 years later in Emlyn Williams's Someone Waiting at the John Golden Theatre, a flop which opened and closed after 15 performances in February 1956.
He appeared as Laurence Olivier's manservant in The Green Bay Tree at Broadway's Cort Theatre in the 1933-1934 season, in which Olivier co-starred with his real-life first wife, Jill Esmond. The play, directed by the legendary Jed Harris, was a hit, playing for 166 performances. The Green Bay Tree, written by Mordaunt Shairp, was one of the first plays to deal with the topic of homosexuality.
Fought in the British army during WW I and was seriously wounded.
He was mentioned in the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
He appeared in six films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, more than anyone other than Hitchcock and Clare Greet: Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959).

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