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Leo G. Carroll

from the trailer for
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Born Leo Gratten Carroll
25 October 1886(1886-10-25)
Weedon, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Died 16 October 1972 (aged 85)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other name(s) Leo Carroll
Occupation Actor
Years active 1912–1968

Leo Gratten Carroll (25 October 1886 – 16 October 1972) was an English actor, best known for his roles in several Hitchcock films and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..


Early life

Carroll was born in Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire, to William and Catherine Carroll. His Roman Catholic parents named him after the reigning pope Leo XIII. In 1897 his family lived in York, where his Irish born father was a foreman in an ordnance store. In the 1901 Census for West Ham, London, done when Carroll was a teenager, his occupation is listed as a "Wine trade clerk".

Stage career

Carroll made his stage debut in 1912. His acting career was on hold during World War I, when he served in the British Army. He then performed in London and Broadway.

In the twenties, Carroll had the lead in a successful Broadway play, The Green Bay Tree, and in 1941 starred with Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn in the smash hit Angel Street, which ran for three years at the Golden Theatre on 45th Street in New York City. After that closed, he starred in the title role in J. P. Marquand's The Late George Apley.

Movies and television

Carroll, who had moved to Hollywood, made his film debut in Sadie McKee (1934). He often played doctors or butlers, but he made notable appearances as Marley's ghost in A Christmas Carol (1938) and as Joseph in Wuthering Heights (1939). In Father of the Bride, he played an unctuous wedding caterer. In the 1951 film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, he played a sympathetic Gerd von Rundstedt, presenting him as a tragic, resigned figure completely disillusioned with Hitler.

Carroll is perhaps most well-known for his roles in six Alfred Hitchcock films: Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951), and North by Northwest (1959). As with earlier roles he was often cast as doctors or other figure of authority, such as the spymaster "The Professor" in North by Northwest.

Carroll is also remembered for his role as the frustrated banker haunted by the ghosts of George and Marion Kerby (sometimes erroneously spelled "Kirby"), in the 1950s television series Topper (1953–1956) which also starred Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling, and Lee Patrick. Carroll later starred as spymaster Alexander Waverly on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964–1968), echoing his earlier work for Hitchcock. Several U.N.C.L.E. films followed, and a spin-off The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1966). He was one of the first actors to appear in two different television series as the same character.

Death and remembrances

In 1972, Carroll died in Hollywood of pneumonia brought on by cancer. He was interred in the Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Carroll is mentioned in the song "Magdalena" from the 1972 Frank Zappa and the Mothers album Just Another Band from LA.

"the stars that say Jon Provost and Leo G. Carroll together"

Carroll is also mentioned in the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" in Rocky Horror Picture Show with the lines "I knew Leo G. Carroll, was over a barrel, when Tarantula took to the hills."

Selected filmography

With Alfred Hitchcock

As Alexander Waverly (Man from U.N.C.L.E.)

External links

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