Michael Hordern

Biography

Date of Birth 3 October 1911, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, UK Date of Death 2 May 1995, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK (kidney disease) Birth Name Michael Murray Hordern Following a brief teaching career, Michael Hordern made his stage debut in 1937. He made his film debut in 1939, but his career was stalled by WWII. He resumed his acting career in 1946, both in theatre and films. He hit his stride in the 1960s playing befuddled characters, particularly stuffy public officials. He was knighted in 1983. Some of Hordern's finest work was not in films or television but on radio: His performance as Gandalf in the BBC's radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was arguably the definitive portrayal of that character (contrast Hordern's Gandalf with that of Ian McKellen in the 3-part film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings directed by Peter Jackson). Sir Michael Hordern established himself as one of the premier stage actors of his generation, and also had a flourishing career as a supporting player in British and international cinema. Born on October 3, 1911, in Berkhampsted, England, Michael Murray Hordern was the son of John Calvery Hordern, a British Army captain, and the former Margareta Emily Murray. After receiving his education and graduating from Brighton College, Hordern supported himself as a teacher and salesman before launching a life in the theater in 1937, after having partaken in amateur theatricals in the evenings and on weekends. He debuted in the cinema in a bit role in Carol Reed's A Girl Must Live (1939) (1939) and also had a bit part in Girl in the News (1940) (1940), but his acting career went on hiatus when Britain went to war against the forces of fascism. Hordern joined the Royal Navy for the duration in 1940. After being demobilized in 1945, Hordern returned to the stage, and also began appearing regular in films and on television. He established his reputation as a first-rate stage actor, excelling in classical and Shakespearan roles at the Old Vic and at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford. He befriended a young Richard Burton in the early 1950s, and the two would appear together in eight films starting with Alexander the Great (1956) in 1956, including, most memorably, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). Hordern is most likely known to audiences for his portrayal of Jacob Marley in the 1951 British adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (known as Scrooge (1951)) starring Alastair Sim, and as the off-screen narrator of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), which showcased his mellifluous voice. (Hordern was an outstanding radio actor.) Most critics credit his portrayal of the disillusioned journalist in England Made Me (1973) as his finest screen role. Michael Hordern was knighted in 1983 for his services to the stage, and he wrote his autobiography, "A World Elsewhere," which was published in 1993. His masterful portrayal of Prospero in the BBC's The Tempest (1980) (TV) likely will remain the definite portrait for years to come. He was also a superb King Lear (1982) (TV). Sir Michael Hordern died from kidney disease in Oxford, England on May 2, 1995, at the age of 83. He left behind a daughter by his wife, the former Grace Eveline Mortimer, who had precede him in death in 1986 after 42 years of marriage. Spouse Eve Mortimer (1943 - 1986) (her death) 1 child Trivia On the Wogan chat show he said he refused the offers to play the second Doctor Who (played by Patrick Troughton) and Maigret (played by Rupert Davies). He and Ian McKellen, who have both played Gandalf, also share the same middle name of Murray. He was awarded the 1988 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) Special Award. Terry Gilliam's first casting choice for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Made his professional debut in 1937 at the People's Palace, east London, playing Lodovico in "Othello". Later in the year he joined the repertory company of the Little Theatre in Bristol; it was here that he met his future wife, actress Eve Mortimer. They had one daughter. He and brother Peter were educated at Brighton College. Notable stage work for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and in London, at the Old Vic and in the West End. In addition to his many Shakespearean roles (As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Twelfth Night), Hordern performed in plays by Strindberg, Chekhov, Ibsen, Pinero, Pinter, Dürrenmatt, Albee, Alan Ayckbourn, David Mercer and Tom Stoppard. His King Lear is considered his most respected work, which he also played on the BBC. He was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in 1983 for his services to drama. He appeared in three different adaptations of Charles Dickens's 1843 novel "A Christmas Carol". He played Jacob Marley in both Scrooge (1951) and A Christmas Carol (1971) (TV) and Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1977) (TV).

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Known For
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Alexander the Great

Demosthenes

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Lady Jane

Doctor Feckenham

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The Wind in the Willows

Badger (voice)

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The Slipper and the Rose

King

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Ivanhoe

Cedric

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Futtocks End

The Butler

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A Christmas Carol

Scrooge

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The Possession of Joel Delaney

Justin

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The Secret Garden

Ben Weatherstaff

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L’inafferrabile Primula Nera

Squire Thomas Banks

Starring In
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Freddie as F.R.O.7.

King (voice) (as Sir Michael Hordern)

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Beauty and the Beast

Monsieur Du Bois (voice)

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Death and Desire: Die Teufel mit dem blauen Blut

Lord Crewne

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The Trouble with Spies

Jason Locke

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The Secret Garden

Ben Weatherstaff

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Comrades

Mr. Pitt

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Labyrinth

The Wiseman (voice)

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Lady Jane

Doctor Feckenham

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Young Sherlock Holmes

Older Watson (voice)

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The Wind in the Willows

Badger (voice)

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Yellowbeard

Dr. Gilpin

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Gandhi

Sir George Hodge

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Oliver Twist

Mr. Brownlow

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The Missionary

Slatterthwaite / Narrator

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King Lear

King Lear

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Ivanhoe

Cedric

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The Wildcats of St. Trinian's

Sir Charles Hackforth

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Shogun

Friar Domingo

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The Tempest

Prospero

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Edward the King

W.E. Gladstone / ... (5 episodes, 1975)

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Watership Down

Frith (voice)

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Medusa Touch

Atropos - Fortune Teller

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Romeo & Juliet

Capulet

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A Christmas Carol

Scrooge

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Joseph Andrews

Parson Adams

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The Slipper and the Rose

King

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Barry Lyndon

Narrator (voice)

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Royal Flash

Headmaster

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Lucky Lady

Capt. Rockwell

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Juggernaut

Mr. Baker (uncredited)

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Rape of the Third Reich

F. Minty

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The MacKintosh Man

Brown

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Theatre of Blood

George Maxwell

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Mock Turtle

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The Possession of Joel Delaney

Justin

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Demons of the Mind

Priest

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The Pied Piper

Melius, Alchemist

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Girl Stroke Boy

George Mason

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Up Pompeii

Ludicrus Sextus

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Some Will, Some Won't

Deniston Russell

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Futtocks End

The Butler

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The Bed Sitting Room

Bules Martin

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Anne of the Thousand Days

Thomas Boleyn

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Prudence and the Pill

Dr. Morley (uncredited)

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Where Eagles Dare

Adm. Rolland

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The Jokers

Sir Matthew

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How I Won The War

Grapple

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The Taming of the Shrew

Baptista

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I’ll Never Forget What’s is Name

Headmaster

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Senex

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Khartoum

Lord Granville

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Cast a Giant Shadow

British Ambassador

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Genghis Khan

Geen

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The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

Ashe

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The Yellow Rolls-Royce

Harnsworth

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Cleopatra

Cicero

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L’inafferrabile Primula Nera

Squire Thomas Banks

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The V.I.P.s

Airport Director

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El Cid

Don Diego

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Sink the Bismarck!

Admiral Jack Tovey - Commander in Chief - HMS King George V

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Malaga

Inspector Farrell

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Man in the Moon

Dr. Davidson

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I Was Monty's Double

Governor of Gibraltar

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Windom's Way

Patterson

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The Spanish Gardener

Harrington Brande

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Alexander the Great

Demosthenes

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The Man Who Never Was

Gen. Cockburn

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The Baby and the Battleship

Capt. Hugh

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The Constant Husband

Judge

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The Dark Avenger

King Edward

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The Night My Number Came Up

Lindsay

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Storm Over the Nile

Gen. Faversham

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Forbidden Cargo

Director of Customs

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Wicked Wife

Insp. Ayling

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The Heart of the Matter

Commissioner

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Personal Affair

Headmaster Griffith

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Both Sides of the Law

Det. Insp. Heron

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The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men

Scathelock

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The Hour of 13

Sir Herbert Frensham

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The Promoter

Bank Manager (uncredited)

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A Christmas Carol

Jacob Marley

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Tom Brown's Schooldays

Wilkes

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Flesh and Blood

Webster

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The Astonished Heart

Ernest

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Highly Dangerous

Owens - Lab Director

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Passport to Pimlico

Bashford

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Third Time Lucky

2nd Doctor

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Good-Time Girl

Seddon

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The Hideout

Dr. Mennell

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Nightbeat

(uncredited)

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Mine Own Executioner

Co-Counsel at Felix's Hearing (uncredited)

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The Years Between

Member Of Parliament (uncredited)

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