Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was quickly followed by Laurence Olivier in 1948, and then by John Gielgud in 1953. Co-stars and friends, the three theatrical knights were considered the greatest English actors of their generation, primarily for their mastery of the Shakespearean canon. They occupied the height of the British acting pantheon in the post-World War II years.
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