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Michael Hordern Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 3 October 1911Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Date of Death 2 May 1995Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK  (kidney disease)
Birth NameMichael Murray Hordern

Mini Bio (3)

Following a brief teaching career, Michael Hordern made his stage debut in 1937. He made his film debut in 1939, but his career was stalled by WWII. He resumed his acting career in 1946, both in theatre and films. He hit his stride in the 1960s playing befuddled characters, particularly stuffy public officials. He was knighted in 1983.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel

Some of Hordern's finest work was not in films or television but on radio: His performance as Gandalf in the BBC's radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was arguably the definitive portrayal of that character (contrast Hordern's Gandalf with that of Ian McKellen in the 3-part film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings directed by Peter Jackson).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Deep Thought

Sir Michael Hordern established himself as one of the premier stage actors of his generation, and also had a flourishing career as a supporting player in British and international cinema. Born on October 3, 1911, in Berkhampsted, England, Michael Murray Hordern was the son of John Calvery Hordern, a British Army captain, and the former Margareta Emily Murray. After receiving his education and graduating from Brighton College, Hordern supported himself as a teacher and salesman before launching a life in the theater in 1937, after having partaken in amateur theatricals in the evenings and on weekends. He debuted in the cinema in a bit role in Carol Reed's A Girl Must Live (1939) (1939) and also had a bit part in Girl in the News (1940) (1940), but his acting career went on hiatus when Britain went to war against the forces of fascism. Hordern joined the Royal Navy for the duration in 1940.

After being demobilized in 1945, Hordern returned to the stage, and also began appearing regular in films and on television. He established his reputation as a first-rate stage actor, excelling in classical and Shakespearan roles at the Old Vic and at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford. He befriended a young Richard Burton in the early 1950s, and the two would appear together in eight films starting with Alexander the Great (1956) in 1956, including, most memorably, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969).

Hordern is most likely known to audiences for his portrayal of Jacob Marley in the 1951 British adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (known as A Christmas Carol (1951)) starring Alastair Sim, and as the off-screen narrator of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), which showcased his mellifluous voice. (Hordern was an outstanding radio actor.) Most critics credit his portrayal of the disillusioned journalist in England Made Me (1973) as his finest screen role.

Michael Hordern was knighted in 1983 for his services to the stage, and he wrote his autobiography, "A World Elsewhere," which was published in 1993. His masterful portrayal of Prospero in the BBC's The Tempest (1980) likely will remain the definite portrait for years to come. He was also a superb King Lear (1982).

Sir Michael Hordern died from kidney disease in Oxford, England on May 2, 1995, at the age of 83. He left behind a daughter by his wife, the former Grace Eveline Mortimer, who had precede him in death in 1986 after 42 years of marriage.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Eve Mortimer (June 1943 - 19 April 1986) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (9)

On the Wogan chat show he said he refused the offers to play the second Doctor Who (played by Patrick Troughton) and Maigret (played by Rupert Davies).
He and Ian McKellen, who have both played Gandalf, also share the same middle name of Murray.
He was awarded the 1988 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) Special Award.
Terry Gilliam's first casting choice for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988).
Made his professional debut in 1937 at the People's Palace, east London, playing Lodovico in "Othello". Later in the year he joined the repertory company of the Little Theatre in Bristol; it was here that he met his future wife, actress Eve Mortimer. They had one daughter.
He and brother Peter were educated at Brighton College.
Notable stage work for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and in London, at the Old Vic and in the West End. In addition to his many Shakespearean roles (As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Twelfth Night), Hordern performed in plays by Strindberg, Chekhov, Ibsen, Pinero, Pinter, Dürrenmatt, Albee, Alan Ayckbourn, David Mercer and Tom Stoppard. His King Lear is considered his most respected work, which he also played on the BBC.
He was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in 1983 for his services to drama.
He appeared in three different adaptations of Charles Dickens's 1843 novel "A Christmas Carol". He played Jacob Marley in both A Christmas Carol (1951) and A Christmas Carol (1971) and Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1977).

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