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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 25 May 1888Croydon, Surrey, England, UK
Date of Death 15 March 1969London, England, UK
Birth NameWilliam Miles Malleson

Mini Bio (1)

Actor, playwright and screenwriter Miles Malleson's list of credits reads like a history of British cinema in the first half of the 20th century. Born in Croydon in Surrey, he attended Brighton College in Sussex before studying at Cambridge University with the intention of becoming a schoolmaster. However, he opted instead for the stage and went into repertory theatre in Liverpool and then onto the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.

He wrote his first play in 1913 and, in contrast to the characters he often portrayed on screen, held socially progressive views which were often reflected in his work. His output included two plays about the First World War, "D Company" and "Black Eill", and one about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. He also worked as a screenwriter on two documentaries for Paul Rotha, Land of Promise (1946) and "World of Plenty".

His most prolific period as a screenwriter was in the 1930s and 1940s, initially on historical subjects like Nell Gwyn (1934), Rhodes (1936), and Victoria the Great (1937). In many of these films he also began appearing in supporting roles, and from the mid-'30s onwards he found himself in increasing demand as an actor as well as a writer. Over the next 30 years he appeared in nearly 100 films, featuring in everything from Alfred Hitchcock thrillers and Ealing comedies to Hammer horrors.

Usually cast as a befuddled judge or a doddering old doctor, academic or other local eccentric, he first caught audiences' imagination as the hearse driver in the Ealing chiller compendium Dead of Night (1945), after which he began to get bigger and better parts. He was particularly memorable as the philosophical hangman in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), Dr. McAdam in Folly to Be Wise (1953), the barrister Grimes in Brothers in Law (1957) and as Windrush Sr. in Private's Progress (1956) and I'm All Right Jack (1959). Towards the end of his career he continued to appear in cameo roles in comedy films, and made several appearances in Hammer horror films including Horror of Dracula (1958) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), before failing eyesight forced him into retirement in his late 70s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jeff Watts <jeffwattsuk@yahoo.co.uk>

Spouse (3)

Colette O'Neil (1915 - 1923) (divorced)
Joan G. Billson (? - 1956) (her death)
Tania Lieven (? - 15 March 1969) (his death)

Trivia (8)

Retired from acting due to failing eyesight.
Stubby, meek-looking British character actor/writer with small, puckered mouth and hook nose in scores of films, some of which he wrote, usually appearing in small, unobtrusive parts.
On the advisory council of the Masses Stage and Film Guild established by the Independent Labour Party in 1929 to bring plays and films of an international character to working-class audiences.
He was originally cast as Dr. Matthew Roney in Quatermass and the Pit (1958) but the role eventually went to Cec Linder.
He was the first chairman of the Screen Writers' Association, the predecessor of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, in 1937.
Cousin of poet and novelist Lucy Beatrice Malleson, who wrote under the pseudonyms Anthony Gilbert, Lucy Egerton, Sylvia Denys Hooke, J. Kilmeny Keith, and Anne Meredith.
He made five films with Christopher Lee: One Night with You (1948), Saraband (1948), Private's Progress (1956), Horror of Dracula (1958) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959).

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