His memorable role in the 1933 movie “The Private Life of Henry VIII” earned his an Academy Award for Best Actor
The British actor and Hollywood legend Charles Laughton was born on this day in 1899
Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire on July 1, 1899. Raised within a Catholic family, Laughton served in World War I and after the war was over he became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1925 where actor Claude Rains was one of his teachers. Charles first appeared professionally on the stage in 1926, and the following year of 1927 he met his future wife, the actress Elsa Lanchester, with whom he lived and worked until his death, despite Laughton’s sexuality being an open secret (the actor was gay.) His early discreet film career took him to Broadway and then Hollywood where during the 1930’s he starred in perhaps what it’s considered to be his most influential role, in the 1933 movie “The Private Life of Henry VIII” alongside his wife. The role of Henry VIII gave Laughton the Academy Award for Best Actor. Other successful movies starring Charles Laughton were “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”, “Mutiny on the Bounty”, “Ruggles of Red Gap”, “Jamaica Inn”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Big Clock”. He was nominated for Best actor in the 1936 “Mutiny on the Bounty” and at a later stage of his career, in 1958 for “Witness for the Prosecution”. In 1960 Laughton starred on the Stanley Kubrick’s epic “Spartacus”, one of his last greatest roles. Charles Laughton also ventured as a director in the movie “The Night of the Hunter” and also stage directing, notably in “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial”, and George Bernard Shaw’s “Don Juan in Hell”. In 1956 he was the fill-in host of The Ed Sullivan Show, notable for featuring the first appearance of Elvis Presley on that show. Charles Laughton passed on December 15, 1962 from renal cancer and he’s bried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. Speaking about Charles Laughton’s legacy, actor Daniel Day Lewis states that “He was probably the greatest film actor who came from that period of time. He had something quite remarkable. His generosity as an actor, he fed himself into that work. As an actor, you cannot take your eyes off him.”
Look back at Charles Laughton playing his Academy Awarded role of King Henry VIII in the 1933 movie “The Private Life of Henry VIII”
Watch Charles Laughton’s monologue in the unfinished 1937 movie “I Claudius”, directed by Josef von Sternberg
Watch a movie clip featuring one of Charles Laughton’s last performances in the 1962 movie “Advise and Consent”
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