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Denholm Mitchell Elliott, CBE (31 May 1922 – 6 October 1992) was an English actor of stage and screen, with over 120 major film and TV credits. Today he is probably most known for his roles in the Indiana Jones movies as Dr. Marcus Brody. Elliott was born in London, England, the son of Nina (née Mitchell) and Myles Laymen Farr Elliott.He attended Malvern College and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
In the Second World War, he joined the Royal Air Force, training as a sergeant radio operator and gunner and serving with No. 76 Squadron RAF under the command of Leonard Cheshire. On the night of 23/24 September 1942, his Handley Page Halifax bomber took part in an air raid on the U-boat pens at Flensburg, Germany. The aircraft was hit by flak and subsequently ditched in the North Sea near Sylt. Elliot and two other crew members survived and he spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp in Silesia and during this time became involved in amateur dramatics.
After the war, he made his film debut in Dear Mr. Prohack (1949). He went on to play a wide range of parts, often playing ineffectual and occasionally seedy characters, such as the journalist Bayliss in Defence of the Realm, the abortionist in Alfie, and the washed-up film director in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. He made many television appearances, notably in plays by Dennis Potter, including Follow the Yellow Brick Road (1972), Brimstone and Treacle (1976) and Blade on the Feather (1980). He took over for an ill Michael Aldridge for one season of The Man in Room 17 (1966) and also appeared in the series Thriller (1975). In the 1980s he won three consecutive BAFTA awards as best supporting actor for Trading Places as Dan Aykroyd's kindly butler, A Private Function and Defence of the Realm, as well as an Academy Award nomination for A Room with a View. He also became familiar to a wider audience as the well meaning but addlepated Dr. Marcus Brody in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
He also starred with Katharine Hepburn and Harold Gould in the 1986 television movie, Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry. In 1988, Elliott was awarded the CBE for his services to acting. His career included many stage performances, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company Privately bisexual, Elliott was married twice, the first time to the British actress Virginia McKenna for a few months in 1954, and the second an open marriage to actress Susan Robinson, with whom he had two children.His daughter Jennifer Elliott (born in 1964) died by suicide (hanging) in 2003.Denholm Elliott was diagnosed with HIV in 1987,and died in 1992 of AIDS-related tuberculosis at his home on Ibiza, Spain. He was cremated. His widow Susan Elliott set up a charity, the Denholm Elliott Project, in his honour and collaborated on his biography. She also worked closely with the UK Coalition of People living with HIV and AIDS. Susan Elliott died on April 12, 2007 following a fire in her flat in London.
Posts : 2558 Join date : 2009-04-06 Age : 60 Location : UK
Denholm Mitchell Elliott, actor, born 31 May 1922, CBE 1988, married 1954 Virginia McKenna (marriage dissolved 1957), 1962 Susan Robinson (one son, one daughter), died Ibiza 6 October 1992.
A FEW weeks ago, Noises Off limped in and out of some of the country's cinemas. It had been a co-production between two companies adept at making box- office successes, Disney and Amblin, ie Steven Spielberg, but likely to strike horror into the breasts of the more sensitive of us. In fact, Noises Off was hastily replaced by a revival of Spielberg's Hook, a film as misconceived as any ever made. On stage, Michael Frayn's farce ran for several years, and even though he endorsed the film version in a long article in the Observer no one seemed to believe him. The few of us who did see it laughed immoderately - and one of its joys was the wonderful teamwork of a cast including Michael Caine and Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve and Denholm Elliott. Elliott was in his element as an ageing British actor (the rest of the cast, except Caine, played Americans), prone to tipple, forget his lines and turn up in the wrong place at the wrong time. As so often with this actor he stole every scene in which he appeared.
After an unhappy childhood, he studied acting at RADA (on the advice of his psychiatrist), but he left after a year. He spent the war with the RAF, and it was his three years as a prisoner of war in Germany, playing in amateur productions, which intensified his interest in acting. He began his career in 1945 and went in to high gear when Laurence Olivier selected him to play his son in Christopher Fry's comedy, Venus Observed, in 1950. Later that year, Elliott went to New York to play the dual role - done by Paul Scofield in London - in Fry's adaption of Anouilh's Ring Round the Moon. Both performances won awards for Elliott, who had already made his film debut in Dear Mr Prohack in 1949, based on a novel by Arnold Bennett. Cecil Parker played the title-role and Elliott was a minor civil servant who marries his daughter, Sheila Sim.
His performance suggested a career as a character actor, as did the one he gave as Ralph Richardson's cowardly son in The Sound Barrier (1952) but the acclaim in London and New York brought him some straight leading roles, as in The Cruel Sea (1953), as the officer married to a two-timing actress (Moira Lister). He was much better cast as the civil servant who cuckolds Trevor Howard in The Heart of the Matter (1953), but in Lease of Life (1954) and The Man Who Loved Redheads (1954) he was merely just another jeune premier. He was not movie-star material, as he proved in the lead of Pacific Destiny (1956), based on Sir Arthur Grimble's autobiography, A Pattern of Islands. Elliott's rather remote, semi-aristocratic style (though this he would late use to good advantage) were never likely to make him a popular stage favourite. This he realised, continuing to act on the stage, notably in TS Eliot's The Confidential Clerk in 1953 and in Tennessee Williams's Camino Real in 1957.
The film offers became thin on the ground with the advent of Albert Finney and a sturdier kind of British hero. What changed Elliott's career was a king-sized character role in Nothing but the Best (1964), a title which referred to what Alan Bates wanted, as he looks for his 'room at the top'. However, this was not John Braine rehashed, but a clever social satire by Frederic Raphael, with Elliott wonderfully cast as the black sheep of an aristocratic family. Bates realises that the Elliott character can teach him much of what he needs to know in his ascent and Elliott, who has little of his past except a monthly cheque, is happy to accept. The film was directed by Clive Donner, but when he tackled something similar later, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, the result was disastrous. Elliott this time played the father of the girlfriend of the man on the make, Barry Evans, and was briefly amusing as the wine-snob given to chasing the maid. He did his first film in Hollywood, King Rat (1965), as one of the most cynical of the prisoners, but it was his role as a sleazy back-street abortionist in Alfie (1966) which really attracted national attention. He returned to Hollywood to play a self-appointed vice-finder in The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968). He had established himself in light villainy, and although too varied as an actor to be type-cast he was seldom to escape from this, but he did in Sidney Lumet's film of Chekhov's The Seagull (1968), in which he was the doctor.
He had a leading role in Patrick Garland's version of A Doll's House (1973), with Claire Bloom, as Krogstad, the conniving bank official aiming to replace Torvald (Anthony Hopkins), but was back on familiar ground with The Apprentice of Duddy Kravitz (1974), as a drunken has-been British director 'used' by Richard Dreyfuss in his rise to the top. He worked almost non-stop in films thereafter, in parts big and small, and the latter would include Harrison Ford's academic superior in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the second of its sequels, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Among the larger ones was the immensely snooty but bribable butler in Trading Places (1983) and Mr Emerson in A Room wth a View (1986): perhaps because this last was an unexpectedly big success Elliott was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, but by the time the director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala had finished with Forster's novel even an actor of Elliott's skill could not make the character anything but unfathomable.
Apart from Noises Off, perhaps his best screen work during the last decade was as an ageing but brave Fleet Street hack in Defence of the Realm (1985). Gabriel Byrne, who played the lead, observed: 'I amended the actor's cliche to 'Never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliott'.'
Posts : 5 Join date : 2012-06-12
Subject: Re: Denholm Mitchell Elliott, CBE Zulu Dawn Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:48 am
I was always a fan of Denholm Elliott. His proudest accomplishment certainly must be that he's the only one to date to have won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor three straight times out of four consecutive nominations. In 1983, he beat out two of his Zulu Dawn co-stars, Burt Lancaster and Bob Hoskins.
Posts : 1604 Join date : 2009-09-21
Subject: Re: Denholm Mitchell Elliott, CBE Zulu Dawn Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:38 pm
Thanks for that information. I didn't know that.
Mind you I don't think Lancaster play the part well anyway.