Maurice Evans Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (17)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Dorchester, Dorset, England, UK
Died in Rottingdean, East Sussex, England, UK  (cancer)
Birth NameMaurice Herbert Evans
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A grand, robust, highly theatrical British classical actor, Maurice Evans was born on June 3, 1901, in Dorchester, England, the son of a justice of the peace who enjoyed amateur play writing on the side. In fact, his father adapted several adaptations of Thomas Hardy's novels and Evans would often appear in them. Early interest also came in London choirs as a boy tenor.

Making his professional stage debut in 1926, Evans made do during his struggling years by running a cleaning and dyeing store. He earned his first triumph three years later in the play "Journey's End." When his resulting attempts as an early 1930's romantic film lead and/or second lead in White Cargo (1929), Raise the Roof (1930), The Only Girl (1933), The Path of Glory (1934), Bypass to Happiness (1934) and Checkmate (1935) didn't pan out, he refocused on the stage.

Following a season with the Old Vic theatre company, he arrived in America and proceeded to conquer Broadway, establishing himself as one of the world's more illustrious interpreters of Shakespeare. His eloquent, florid portrayals of Romeo, Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard II are considered among the finest interps. He was also deemed a master of Shavian works which included superlative performances in "Major Barbara", "Man and Superman" and "The Devil's Disciple".

As a U.S. citizen (1941), Maurice was placed in charge of the Army Entertainment Section, Central Pacific Theater during WWII and left military service with the rank of major. His post-war career included a handful of character film roles, notably Kind Lady (1951), Androcles and the Lion (1952), Gilbert and Sullivan (1953) (as composer Sir Arthur Sullivan), The War Lord (1965), Rosemary's Baby (1968), and as "Dr. Zaius" in the Planet of the Apes (1968) series.

Films would never be Evans' strong suit, earning much more stature on TV. More importantly, he brought Shakespeare and Shaw to 1950's TV, adapting (and directing) a number of his stage classics including King Richard II (1954), The Taming of the Shrew (1956), Man and Superman (1956), Twelfth Night (1957), The Tempest (1960). He won an Emmy award in 1960 for his Macbeth (1960).

Interestingly, for all his legendary performances under the theatre lights and stirring TV classics, the ever-regal stage master is probably best known to generations for his delightful, Shakespeare-spouting appearances on the Bewitched (1964) TV series, as Elizabeth Montgomery's irascible warlock father. Following guest shots on such popular TV shows as "Medical Center," "The Big Valley," "Columbo," "Streets of San Francisco," "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat," he made his final on-camera appearance in the TV movie A Caribbean Mystery (1983).

Evans returned to England to live out his remaining years and died there on March 12, 1989, in a Sussex nursing home of heart failure as a result of a bronchial infection, aged 87.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (1)

Parents Alfred Herbert Evans
Laura Turner

Trade Mark (2)

Roles in Shakespearean adaptations
Rich smooth voice

Trivia (17)

Won a special Tony Award in 1950 for his body of stage work.
He played more leading roles in Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951) television productions of Shakespeare than any other actor, starring in versions of "Hamlet", "Macbeth", "Twelfth Night", "Richard II", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "The Tempest".
Started out as a boy singer, singing with the Saint Andrew's choir in London.
His 1945 production of "Hamlet" was the longest-running Broadway production of the play, until surpassed by Richard Burton's 1964 revival.
Although John Barrymore is still considered the greatest American Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, the British-born Evans was the United States' pre-eminent exponent of Shakespeare from 1936 until 1946, during which he appeared in no less than four successive Broadway productions of "Hamlet", as well as a few of the Bard's other plays.
Evans appeared in more Broadway productions of Shakespeare's "Richard II" than any other actor. His record remains unbroken as of 2004. His first 1937 production of "Richard II" (there were two that year) is the longest-running production of the tragedy ever to play on Broadway.
He probably made more appearances on the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (a total of eleven) than any other actor, and his record most likely remains unbroken to this day.
Won two Tony Awards: in 1950, a Special Award "for the work he did in guiding the City Center Theatre Company through a highly successful season", and in 1954, as co-producer (with George Schaefer) of the Best Play winner, "The Teahouse of the August Moon". He was also twice nominated for Tony Awards: in 1957 as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "The Apple Cart" and in 1961 as Best Actor (Musical) for "Tenderloin".
Along with actor-managers Walter Hampden and E.H. Sothern, Evans also holds the record for having starred on Broadway in more Shakespeare plays than any other actor.
While Evans was extremely well-known as a Shakespearean actor during the years that he was most active, his fame in this area was eventually eclipsed by that of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, who won even more acclaim for their performances than Evans did.
During World War II, he commanded the Special Entertainment Unit which included fellow actors Werner Klemperer and Carl Reiner.
First name properly pronounced "Morris" (the traditional English pronunciation of "Maurice"). On Bewitched (1964), in which his character shares his Christian name (but is pronounced in the American manner), Agnes Moorehead on at least one occasion slips and pronounces his name "Morris".
After Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay), Evans is the second longest lived regular or recurring cast member of Bewitched (1964).
Portrayed Hamlet in five consecutive revivals of the play on Broadway, between 1939 and 1947. Counting up all of his performances, he may well have played the role on Broadway more times than any other actor in history.
During World War II, he presented a pared-down 90-minute "Hamlet" that became known as the "G.I. Hamlet" as many service members took in the play. Ironically, his first "Hamlet" on Broadway was the first time the play had been presented uncut on the Great White Way.
Along with Severn Darden, he is one of only two actors to play a villain in more than film in the "Planet of the Apes" series. He played Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes (1968) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) whereas Darden played Kolp in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).
Along with Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, Ricardo Montalban, John Randolph, Natalie Trundy and Severn Darden, he is one of only nine actors to play the same character in more than one film in the original "Planet of the Apes" series. He played Dr. Zaius in both Planet of the Apes (1968) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970).

Personal Quotes (1)

[on his job as producer of Shakespeare plays for the "Hallmark Hall of Fame"]: Our job is to lead public taste, not play to what is thought to be public taste.

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