Ronald Colman Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (12) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Richmond, Surrey, England, UK
Died in Santa Barbara, California, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameRonald Charles Colman
Nickname Ronnie
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

British leading man of primarily American films, one of the great stars of the Golden Age. Raised in Ealing, the son of a successful silk merchant, he attended boarding school in Sussex, where he first discovered amateur theatre. He intended to attend Cambridge and become an engineer, but his father's death cost him the financial support necessary. He joined the London Scottish Regionals and at the outbreak of World War I was sent to France. Seriously wounded at the battle of Messines--he was gassed--he was invalided out of service scarcely two months after shipping out for France. Upon his recovery he tried to enter the consular service, but a chance encounter got him a small role in a London play. He dropped other plans and concentrated on the theatre, and was rewarded with a succession of increasingly prominent parts. He made extra money appearing in a few minor films, and in 1920 set out for New York in hopes of finding greater fortune there than in war-depressed England. After two years of impoverishment he was cast in a Broadway hit, "La Tendresse". Director Henry King spotted him in the show and cast him as Lillian Gish's leading man in The White Sister (1923). His success in the film led to a contract with Samuel Goldwyn, and his career as a Hollywood leading man was underway. He became a vastly popular star of silent films, in romances as well as adventure films. The coming of sound made his extraordinarily beautiful speaking voice even more important to the film industry. He played sophisticated, thoughtful characters of integrity with enormous aplomb, and swashbuckled expertly when called to do so in films like The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). A decade later he received an Academy Award for his splendid portrayal of a tormented actor in A Double Life (1947). Much of his later career was devoted to "The Halls of Ivy", a radio show that later was transferred to television The Halls of Ivy (1954). He continued to work until nearly the end of his life, which came in 1958 after a brief lung illness. He was survived by his second wife, actress Benita Hume, and their daughter Juliet Benita Colman.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (2)

Benita Hume (30 September 1938 - 19 May 1958) (his death) (1 child)
Thelma Raye (18 September 1920 - 1 August 1934) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Rich, mellifluous voice

Trivia (13)

Daughter Juliet Benita Colman (b. 1944).
He made his film debut in an unreleased two-reel short made in 1919. Its title is unknown, and references to it as 'Live Wire, The (1917)' apparently erroneously connect it to a play of that title in which Colman appeared around the same time.
His recording of "A Christmas Carol", originally released in a Decca 78-RPM set in 1941, was the first recorded version to win wide acclaim. It appeared several times on LP, and has recently (October 2005) been released on CD by Deutsche Grammophon, along with its frequent companion piece on LP, "Mr. Pickwick's Christmas".
Fought with the British Army in World War I, and was wounded during the Battle of Ypres.
In his early film career he was panned by many critics for his overtheatrics (used in the stage work he was doing at the time) and his pronounced limp (from a bad war injury). He credited working with greats such as George Arliss for overcoming those obstacles.
When he made his mark in Hollywood as a handsome young silent actor, there were some who doubted he would translate well to "talkies." His subsequent success in radio (he made a multi-volume recording of the William Shakespeare sonnets, as well) proved them wrong with a vengeance.
Christopher Walken (whose given name is Ronald) was named for him.
He, along with wife Benita Hume, was a frequent guest on Jack Benny's radio show. The Colmans were supposed to be next-door neighbors. After Colman won his Oscar, Jack borrowed it to take home only to be robbed and the Oscar taken. For several weeks the show's story line was the recovery of the stolen Oscar.
Colman's Oscar statuette sold for $206,250 when it was auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Memorabilia on February 28, 2012.
His Shakespearean acting for the scenes from "Othello" in A Double Life (1947) was coached by Walter Hampden.
He was lined up to play the leading role in a proposed MGM film based on John Wyndham's novel "The Midwich Cuckoos" when illness and then death overcame him. MGM did make a film of this book two years after his death, when his role was taken over by George Sanders - who had, in the meantime, also married Colman's widow, Benita Hume.
Colman had been troubled with fibrosis of the lung since a pneumonia attack during World War I. He never fully recovered from a lung infection which kept him in St. John's Hospital, Santa Monica, for three weeks in March 1956.
Appeared in six Oscar Best Picture nominees: Arrowsmith (1931), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Lost Horizon (1937), The Talk of the Town (1942), Random Harvest (1942) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956), with the last of these the only winner.

Personal Quotes (12)

Fame has robbed me of my freedom and shut me up in prison, and because the prison walls are gilded, and the key that locks me in is gold, does not make it any more tolerable.
[to his agent] Before God I'm worth 35 dollars a week. Before the motion picture industry I'm worth anything you can get.
They talk of the artist finding liberation in work, it is true. One can be someone else in another, more dramatic, more beautiful world.
Whenever I hear of young actors down and out and broke in New York (and what a cliché of show business it is supposed to be!), I remember my own experiences in 1921 - and find it no laughing matter by any criterion.
I persevered in those English films, and persevered is the word, though I am the first to admit that I was a very bad actor in them.
I loathe war. I'm inclined to be bitter about the politics of munitions and real estate, which are the reasons of war. It certainly taught me to value the quiet life and strengthened my conviction that to keep as far out of range of vision as possible is to to be as safe as possible.
Why should I go to dull parties and say dull things just because I wear greasepaint and make love to beautiful women on the screen?
[asked if The Story of Mankind (1957) was based on a book] Yes. But they are using only the notes on the dust jacket.
I visited agents, knocked at producers' doors; no one was interested. I was just another stage actor on tour, on the outside of Hollywood looking in. I returned to New York depressed and disappointed.
A man usually falls in love with a woman who asks the kind of questions he is able to answer.
It's twenty-two years since I made The White Sister and that's a long time. I'm not ambitious to make too many pictures today, but I have never put any actual restriction on the number. I am guided entirely by the character of the stories which come to me from the studio. Of necessity, one thinks in terms of a picture a year or at the most three pictures every two years under those circumstances, but as far as I am concerned I would have no antipathy toward more if the subject were obtainable. A director might be something to consider for the future, but I am quite satisfied to remain the actor as long as there seem to be assignments at fairly regular intervals.
I haunted the Hollywood studios; I had no introductions. I was just on the outside. I was vastly impressed by what I saw and heard there: the range of buildings, the ceaseless commotion of little knots of people excitedly planning outdoor scenes, whole cinema villages perched on the hillsides and populated only when the camera was there. That first sight of Hollywood gave me ambition. I inquired of a passerby about agents, and sought one out. He was at his desk, leaning back, reading a film magazine and steadily thickening the air with cigar smoke. I told him what I had done and I remained standing there, fumbling with my hat. He did not look up from his magazine. 'Do you think,' I ventured again, 'there might be a chance for me in Hollywood?' 'I wonder,' said he. Just that, nothing more, and I walked out.

Salary (1)

Lost Horizon (1937) $162,500

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