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Alan Napier

As Alfred Pennyworth from the 1966 film version of Batman.
Born Alan William Napier-Clavering
January 7, 1903(1903-01-07)
King's Norton, West Midlands, England
Died August 8, 1988 (aged 85)
Santa Monica, California
Years active 1930–1981
Spouse(s) Aileen Dickens Hawklsey, known as Gypsy (2nd wife) (1907–1961) She was the great granddaughter of Charles Dickens

Alan William Napier-Clavering (7 January 1903 – 8 August 1988) was an English character actor. He is best known for playing Alfred in the 1960s live-action Batman television series.

Contents

Early life and career

Napier was a cousin of Neville Chamberlain, Britain's prime minister from 1937 to 1940. He was stage-struck from childhood and after graduating from Clifton College, the tall 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), booming-voiced Napier studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, then later was engaged by the Oxford Players, where he worked with such raw young talent as Sir John Gielgud and Robert Morley. He continued working with the cream of Britain's acting crop during his ten years (1929–1939) on the West End stage. He came to New York City in 1940 to co-star with Gladys George in Lady in Waiting. Though his film career had begun in England in the 1930s, he had very little success before the cameras until he arrived and joined the British community in Hollywood in 1941. There he spent time with such people as James Whale. He usually played dignified, sometimes WASPish roles of all sizes in such films as Cat People (1942), The Uninvited (1943), and House of Horror (1946).

In The Song of Bernadette, he played the ethically questionable psychiatrist who is hired to declare Bernadette mentally ill. He appeared in two Shakespeare films: the Orson Welles Macbeth, in which he played a priest that Welles added to the story, who spoke lines originally uttered by other characters, and MGM's Julius Caesar, in which he played Cicero. He also played the vicious Earl of Warwick in Joan of Arc. In 1949, he made an appearance on the short-lived television anthology series Your Show Time as Sherlock Holmes, in an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". In the 1950s he appeared on TV in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Batman

In 1966, he was the first to be cast on the smash-hit TV series Batman,[1] as Bruce Wayne's faithful butler Alfred, a role he played until the series' cancellation in 1968.

I had never read comics before I [was hired for Batman]. My agent rang up and said, 'I think you are going to play on "Batman,"' I said 'What is "Batman"?' He said, 'Don't you read the comics?' I said, 'No, never.' He said, 'I think you are going to be Batman's butler.' I said, 'How do I know I want to be Batman's butler?' It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard of. He said, 'It may be worth over $100,000.' So I said I was Batman's butler.[1]

Later life and career

Napier's career extended into the 1980s, with TV roles in such miniseries as QB VII and such weeklies as The Paper Chase.

Napier is the step-grandfather of actor Brian Forster, best known as portraying (the second) Chris Partridge on the television series, The Partridge Family.

Napier died from a stroke on 8 August 1988, in Santa Monica, California at the age of 85. His final resting place is at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory.[2]

Homage

In the 1989 Batman film, the Joker's name is Jack Napier, in homage to Alan Napier.

The Justice League series finale ("Starcrossed"), has Batman going undercover to investigate the true motives of the Thangarians. His disguise resembles Alan Napier.

Selected filmography

References

External links

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