Omnibus (1952–1961)
10 user 6 critic

King Lear 

An old king, stepping down from the throne, disinherits his favorite daughter on a mad whim and gives his kingdom to his two older daughters, both of whom prove treacherous.


Andrew McCullough


Peter Brook (teleplay), William Shakespeare (play)

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Orson Welles ... King Lear (segment)
Natasha Parry ... Cordelia (segment)
Arnold Moss ... Duke of Albany (segment)
Bramwell Fletcher ... Earl of Kent (segment)
David J. Stewart David J. Stewart ... Oswald (segment)
Margaret Phillips ... Regan (segment)
Beatrice Straight ... Goneril (segment)
Alan Badel ... Fool (segment)
Micheál MacLiammóir ... Poor Tom (segment) (as Micheal MacLiammoir)
Frederick Worlock ... Earl of Gloucester (segment)
Scott Forbes ... Duke of Cornwall (segment)
Wesley Addy ... King of France (segment)
Fred Sadoff Fred Sadoff ... Duke of Burgundy (segment)
Lloyd Bochner ... First Gentleman (segment)
Chris Gampel ... First Servant (segment)


Based on Shakespeare's play: King Lear of Britain has decided to divide his kingdom into three parts, and to hand over the responsibilities of ruling to his three daughters. The two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, flatter their father insincerely, and are rewarded. Cordelia, the youngest, sincerely loves her father, but she cannot match her sisters' skill at false adulation - so Lear takes away her portion of the kingdom, despite the pleadings of some of his most loyal nobles. It is not long before Goneril and Regan reveal their deep ingratitude, and soon the old king finds himself in a confusing and desperate position. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Music


Not Rated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

18 October 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El rey Lear See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS, Ford Foundation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Television debut of Orson Welles. See more »


During the storm scene, Lear's mustache comes lose and flaps in the wind. Orson Welles turns his back at one point in a failed attempt to stick it back on firmly. See more »


Version of King Lear (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Awesome Orson
9 November 2005 | by brice-18See all my reviews

I'm astonished firstly that this cleverly shortened 'King Lear' was presented LIVE on TV more than 50 years ago, and secondly that the occasion was recorded and can be seen on video. Of course, the sets and costumes are pretty rudimentary, but the storm and shelter scenes are imaginative and there's nothing wrong with the acting. Orson Welles, despite his false nose and enormous beard, is a splendid Lear, who starts well and gets better and better - the more regal as he learns humility - and becomes very moving. Alan Badel is a marvellous Fool, Micheal MacLiammoir a fine Poor Tom (divorced from Edgar, absent in this version)and the Goneril, Regan, Albany, Kent and Gloucester are all very fine. Oswald takes over the character of Edmund to surprisingly good effect. Welles was a great Macbeth, a magnificent Othello and, on this showing, a classic Lear. Let's be grateful for his mighty talent.

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