Wilfrid Lawson (actor): British actor (1900 - 1966) | Biography
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Wilfrid Lawson (actor)
British actor

Wilfrid Lawson (actor)

Wilfrid Lawson (actor)
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British actor
Was Actor Stage actor Film actor
From United Kingdom
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 14 January 1900, Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber
Death 10 October 1966, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom (aged 66 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Wilfrid Lawson (14 January 1900 – 10 October 1966) was an English character actor of stage and screen.

Life and career

Lawson was born at 18 Harris Street, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire. He was educated at Hanson Boys' Grammar School, Bradford, and entered the theatre in his late teens, appearing on both the British and American stage throughout his career.

He made his film début in East Lynne on the Western Front (1931) and appeared in supporting roles until he took the lead in The Terror (1938). That same year saw arguably his most celebrated film role as dustman Alfred P. Doolittle in the film version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, which also features Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller.

He also had memorable leading roles in Pastor Hall (1940), as a German village clergyman who denounces the new Nazi regime in 1934; Tower of Terror (1941) as the wild-eyed maniacal lighthouse keeper Wolfe Kristen; and the title role in The Great Mr. Handel (1942), a biopic of the 18th century composer, all three showing his broad range. He also made a number of films in America beginning with Ladies in Love (1936) and including John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940) alongside John Wayne. His last leading role was in The Turners of Prospect Road (1947).

As a result of bouts of alcoholism, Lawson became difficult to work with, and throughout the 1950s his roles became increasingly small—even uncredited in some cases. Despite this he still gave memorable performances such as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's father in King Vidor's War and Peace (1956), Ed in Hell Drivers (1957) and Uncle Nat in Room at the Top (1958), filmed in Lawson's home town of Bradford.

The 1960s saw something of a career resurgence, beginning with his turn as Black George in Tony Richardson's Tom Jones (1963) and culminating in two of his most notable latter day performances: the decrepit butler Peacock in The Wrong Box and the Dormouse in Jonathan Miller's television adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (both 1966). The same year saw his death, in London, from a heart attack.

His brother was the supporting player Gerald Lawson (30 April 1897 – 6 December 1973) and a nephew was actor Bernard Fox (10 May 1927 – 14 December 2016).

Selected stage performances

  • Peer Gynt
  • Richard III
  • The Father (Strindberg play)
  • The Lower Depths (1962)


  • East Lynne on the Western Front (1931)
  • Strike It Rich (1933)
  • Turn of the Tide (1935)
  • Ladies in Love (1936)
  • White Hunter (1936)
  • The Man Who Made Diamonds (1937)
  • Bank Holiday (1938)
  • The Terror (1938)
  • Yellow Sands (1938)
  • Pygmalion (1938)
  • The Gaunt Stranger (1938)
  • Stolen Life (1939)
  • Allegheny Uprising - "Mac" MacDougall (1939)
  • Dead Man's Shoes (1940)
  • Pastor Hall (1940)
  • The Long Voyage Home - Captain (1940)
  • It Happened to One Man - Felton Quair (1940)
  • The Farmer's Wife (1941)
  • The Man at the Gate (1941)
  • Danny Boy (1941)
  • Jeannie (1941)
  • Tower of Terror (1941)
  • Hard Steel (1942)
  • The Night Has Eyes (1942)
  • The Great Mr. Handel (1942)
  • Thursday's Child (1943)
  • Fanny by Gaslight (1944)
  • The Turners of Prospect Road (1947)
  • Make Me an Offer (1954)
  • The Prisoner (1955)
  • An Alligator Named Daisy - Irishman (1955)
  • Now and Forever (1956)
  • War and Peace (1956)
  • Doctor at Large (1957)
  • Miracle in Soho (1957)
  • Hell Drivers (1957)
  • The Naked Truth (1957)
  • Tread Softly Stranger (1958)
  • Room at the Top (1959)
  • Expresso Bongo (1959)
  • Over the Odds (1961)
  • The Naked Edge - Mr. Pom (1961)
  • Nothing Barred (1961)
  • Postman's Knock (1962)
  • Go to Blazes (1962)
  • Tom Jones - Black George (1963)
  • The Wrong Box - Peacock the Butler (1966)
  • The Viking Queen - King Priam (1967)

Television and radio

  • Tales from Dickens
  • BBC Sunday-Night Theatre
  • The Stone Faces by J. B. Priestley with Luise Rainer (broadcast 1957)
  • ITV Play of the Week
  • Tales of the Vikings ("Pedigree", 1959)
  • Armchair Theatre
  • Hancock - 2 episodes (ATV, 1963)
  • Espionage ("The Frantick Rebel", uncredited, 1964)
  • Cluff
  • Z Cars
  • Theatre 625
  • Danger Man/Secret Agent ("Not So Jolly Roger", 1966
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Likely Lads
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Three Sisters (Chekhov) BBC Home Service Radio 1965. Directed by John Tydeman. Cast included Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave and Jill Bennett.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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