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George Coulouris

George Coulouris, c. 1970
Born 1 October 1903(1903-10-01)
Manchester, England, UK
Died 25 April 1989 (aged 85)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926 – 1985

George Coulouris (1 October 1903 – 25 April 1989) was a prominent English film and stage actor.


Early life

Coulouris was born in Manchester, England, the son of Abigail (née Redfern) and Nicholas Coulouris, a merchant[1] of Greek origin. He was brought up both in Manchester and nearby Urmston and was educated at Manchester Grammar School.[2] He attended London's Central School of Speech and Drama, in the company of fellow students Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft.

Early career

Coulouris's stage debut was in 1926 with Henry V at the Old Vic, and by 1929 he made his first Broadway appearance, followed by his first Hollywood film role in 1933.

A major impact on his life was Orson Welles, whom he met in 1936. He joined Welles' Mercury Theatre, and played Mark Antony in their opening modern dress production of Julius Caesar. "Even 'Friends, Romans, countrymen' sounds on his tongue as if it were a rabble-rousing harangue he is uttering for the first time," noted John Mason Brown in the New York Post. Perhaps his most famous role was again with Welles, Citizen Kane (1941). Coulouris played Walter Parks Thatcher, the JP Morgan-esque financier. George Coulouris won a National Board of Review 'Best Actor' award in 1941 for his performance in Citizen Kane. Orson Welles was the only other Citizen Kane actor to win the same award.

During the 1930s and 1940s he remained a regular figure on the stage and screen, starring in his own Broadway production of Richard III in 1943. His films in this period included For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Watch on the Rhine (1943), for which he received an Oscar nomination. He also gave a notable performance as Robert de Baudricourt, in the Technicolor spectacular, Joan of Arc (1948), starring Ingrid Bergman. Whle most of his performances are strong ones, usually as a heavy or villain, occasionally he could turn his serious characterizations into humorous ones. Thatcher is fussy and pompous at times. A better (if briefer) example was in Mr. Skeffington as Dr. Byles, planning to go on a well-deserved, long-delayed vacation only to find an unwanted delayed by a selfish, impossible Fanny Skeffington (Bette Davis).

Back in Britain

Coulouris returned to Britain after 1950, and appeared in more films, theatre and television productions. His stage work was the most well regarded and included the title role in King Lear at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre (1952); the lead (Dr. Stockmann) in An Enemy of the People (1959) at the Cambridge Arts Theatre; Peter Flynn in Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars at the Mermaid Theatre (1962); a part in August Strindberg's The Dance of Death; and Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1970).

Later film roles included parts in the Doctor in the House films, Papillon, the biography of Mahler, The Long Good Friday and Murder on the Orient Express. During his life he played in over eighty films.

Radio roles were also numerous, and his television roles included parts in Danger Man and The Prisoner, and an appearance as Arbitan in the Doctor Who serial The Keys of Marinus.

Coulouris was married to Louise Franklin (1930–1976) and Elizabeth Donaldson (1977–1989) and was the father of computer scientist George Coulouris and artist Mary-Louise Coulouris. He died on April 25, 1989, of heart failure following Parkinson's disease in London.

Partial filmography


External links



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