English Theatre Knights

English Theatre Knights

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A wonderful collection of six English actors (all knighted between 1947-1976) who dominated the British stage and film industry of the mid-20th century.

1) SIR RALPH RICHARDSON d1983. English theatre and film actor. He had no thought of a stage career until a production of Hamlet in Brighton inspired him to become an actor. He learned his craft in the 1920s with a touring company and later the Birmingham Rep Theatre. In 1931 he joined the Old Vic playing mostly Shakespearean roles. He led the company the following season, succeeding John Gielgud, who had taught him much about stage technique. After he left the company, a series of leading roles took him to stardom in the West End and Broadway. In the 1940s, together with Laurence Olivier and John Burrell, he was the co-director of the Old Vic company. There his most celebrated roles included Peer Gynt and Falstaff. He and Olivier led the company to Europe and Broadway in 1945 and 1946, before their success provoked resentment among the governing board of the Old Vic, leading to their dismissal from the company in 1947. His film career began as an extra in 1931. He was soon cast in leading roles in British and American films including Things To Come / The Fallen Idol / The Heiress / Long Days Journey and Doctor Zhivago. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted in 1947. He received nominations / awards in the UK, Europe and the US for his stage and screen work from 1948 until his death and beyond winning a posthumous Academy Award nomination for his final film Greystoke. Throughout his career and increasingly in later years, he became known for his eccentric behaviour on and off stage. He died following a stroke aged 80 in 1983.

2) LAURENCE OLIVIER autograph d1989. English actor director and producer generally considered to have been one of the greatest of the 20th century. During a six-decade career, he played many roles on stage and screen. His three Shakespeare films as actor-director ; Henry V (1944) / Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955) are among the pinnacles of the bard at the cinema. On stage his more than 120 roles included ; Richard III / Macbeth / Romeo / Hamlet / Uncle Vanya and Archie Rice in The Entertainer. He appeared in nearly sixty films including ; Wuthering Heights (1939) and Rebecca (1940). He was the founding artistic director of the National Theatre Company in 1963, a post in which he remained for a decade. He had earlier filled the same post at the Old Vic after the Second World War. The largest stage in the National Theatre building was later named after him. He was knighted in 1948. He retired from the stage in 1974, but his work on-screen continued until the year before his death of renal failure aged 82 in 1989.

3) SIR JOHN GIELGUD d2000. English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson & Laurence Olivier, he was one of the trinity of actors who dominated the British stage for much of the 20th century. During the 1930s, he was a stage star in the West End and on Broadway appearing in new works and classics. He began a parallel career as a director and set up his own company at the Queens Theatre London. He is regarded by many as the finest Hamlet of his era and was also known for high comedy roles such as John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest. In the 1950s Gielgud feared that his career was threatened when he was convicted and fined for a homosexual offence, but his colleagues and the public supported him loyally. When avant-garde plays began to supersede traditional West End productions in the later 1950s, he found no new suitable stage roles and for several years he was best known in the theatre for his one-man Shakespeare show "The Ages of Man". During the first half of his career he did not take the cinema seriously. He made his first film in 1924 and had successes with The Good Companions (1933) and Julius Caesar (1953), but he did not begin a regular film career until his sixties. Between Becket (1964) (for which he received an Oscar nomination) and Elizabeth (1998), he appeared in more than sixty films. As the acid-tongued Hobson in Arthur (1981) he won an Academy Award for best supporting actor. He has the rare distinction of winning an Oscar / an Emmy / a Grammy and a Tony. He was knighted in 1953 and the Gielgud Theatre is named after him.

4) ALEC GUINNESS autograph d2000. English actor whose career took off after his role in Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1949. Other notable film roles include : Laurence of Arabia (1962) / Doctor Zhivago (1965) / A Passage To India (1984) and as Obi Wan Kenobi in The Star Wars Trilogy. He won the Academy Award for best actor as Colonel Nicholson in the classic "Bridge On The River Kwai" (1957). He was knighted in 1959. He died from liver cancer aged 86 in 2000.

5) SIR MICHAEL REDGRAVE autograph d1985. English stage / film actor, director and author of the 1950-1970s. Knighted in 1959, he died from Parkinsons Disease aged 77 in 1985.

6) SIR JOHN MILLS autograph d2005. English actor who appeared in more than 120 films in an extraordinary career spanning seven decades. On screen, he often played people who are not at all exceptional, but become heroes because of their common sense, generosity and good judgement. He received an Academy Award for best supporting actor for Ryans Daughter (1970). He was knighted in 1976. He died of a chest infection aged 97 in 2005. 

A wonderful set of all six clearly signed autograph book pages double mounted for fine display with photographs.

Highly desirable for a vintage theatre collector.

NB ; Scan unable to show full image.


CERTIFICATION ; AFTAL Dealer No13 and UACC RD Memorabilia UK COA.


Six (Approx) 12x10cm Sized Autograph Book Pages

24x17in >> Acid Free Mount >> Unframed


Good. View Images. The image of the large mount has been taken with an Iphone hence slight shadowing.


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