Legendary actor, George Sanders, was born George Henry Sanders on Jul 3, 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sanders appeared in over 130 film and TV roles. His best known films include All About Eve (as Addison DeWitt), Rebecca (as Jack Favell), The Jungle Book (as voice of malevolent tiger Shere Khan), A Shot in the Dark (as Benjamin Ballon), The Black Swan (as Captain Leech), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (as Miles Fairley) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (as Lord Henry Wotton). Sanders died at the age of 65 on Apr 25, 1972 in Castelldefels, Spain and was cremated and his ashes scattered in the English Channel.
George Henry Sanders was born on July 3rd, 1906 in Saint Petersburg all the back when Russia was an still an Empire to Russian born-British parents Henry and Margathethe Sanders. Thanks to his fathers rumored noble, if illegitimate origins, George and his siblings, Tom and Margaret, lived a privileged life amongst Russia's high court. All of that would change, however, in 1917 when the Russian Revolution broke out and the family was forced to flee to the United Kingdom to avoid political prosecution. He was then educated at Bedales School before attending the prestigious Brighton College Boarding School. After finishing high school, he enrolled at Manchester Technical College and upon graduating moved to South America, where he worked as a tobacco farmer in Argentina. After the farm failed, Sanders returned to England work at an advertising agency. In the late 1920's Greer Garson, then working as a secretary at the same company as Sander's, suggested he make acting his profession. He took her advice to heart and changed vocations.
With little to no experience in the acting world, Sanders was forced to work his way up from the very bottom and began his new career as a chorus boy in London's famed West End. He eventually branched off into cabaret, radio, and started acting as a theatrical understudy. He acted in mostly undistinguished stage projectd into the early 1930s, working his best to add dimension to his growing craft. His dedication paid off in 1934 when Sanders appeared in the Noel Coward play Conversation Piece. The success of the play led to Sanders entering the British film industry, making his screen debut with a small, uncredited role as a bar singer in Love, Life, and Laughter. He continued to work in a series of small British films with another uncredited role as a pilot in the 1936 big screen adaptation of the H.G Welles novel Things to Come, with a screenplay penned by Wells himself. Later that year Sanders enjoyed his first credited role as Roddy Burch in the Lawrence Huntington crime drama Strange Cargo. He worked on two more English films, Find the Lady and Dishonour Bright before traveling west to the States, ready to try his hand at the Hollywood game.
In 1936 Sanders arrived in Hollywood ready to make his mark. He was quickly cast in the Henry King historical drama Lloyd's of London as one of the film main antagonist. In the film he played Lord Everett Stacy, a smooth, upper-class English aristocrat who acts as the main romantic foil to the film's star Tyrone Power. Thanks to his suave, upper crust British manner, air of privileged superiority, and devil-may care caddish screen-persona, Sanders was quickly signed to long-term contract by the newly formed 20th century Fox. He then played aristocratic supporting role as Count Andre de Guyon in the romantic comedy Love Is News again opposite Tyrone Power.
Sanders continued to play caddish supporting roles in
A-films films such as The Man Who Could
Work Miracles, and The Lady Escapes. He
also began taking on leading roles, starring opposite Dolores del Rio in the
films Lancer Spy and International Settlement. For the rest
of the decade Sanders remained busy, appearing in eight films in 1939 alone,
including So This is London, Mr. Moto's
Last Warning, and Confessions of a
Nazi Spy That year he also began his run as "The Saint" in The Saint Strikes Back and would star in
four more Saint films over the next
two years. In 1940 he appeared in
Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca as the
devilishly sly and unnervingly cruel Jack Favell, one of the main foils to lead
actress Joan Fontaine. The film would later go on to win the Academy Awards for
Best Picture. Sanders would work with Hitchcock again in 1940, this time in as
one of the heroes along side Joel McCrea and Larraine Day in the spy-thriller Foreign Correspondent.
With the new decade came more success for Sanders. In 1941 he starred in his final installment as The Saint in The Saint in Palm Springs. Later that he began work on another film series, this time playing the Falcon in The Gay Falcon. He would appear in three Falcon films A Date with the Falcon, The Falcon Takes Over and his final Falcon film, The Falcon's Brother, released in 1942. His brother, Tom Conway, then took over the series when Sander grew tired of the role. He continued to be America's favorite aristocratic cad in films like The Black Swan, The Land in Mine, and The Lodger.
In 1945 Sanders starred as the world-weary and utterly
sardonic Lord Henry in the 1945 silver adaption of he Oscar Wilde classic The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although he
had been playing villainous cad for much of his Hollywood career, the role
offered Sanders a chance to add a dimension of rakish cynicism for which he
probably best remembered today. In 1947 he starred as the womanizing, social
climbing cad Georges Duroy in The Private
Affairs of Bel Ami. The next year he played Miles Fairley, one of his few
traditionally heroic characters in the Joseph L. Mankiewicz fantasy drama The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Sanders' would
appear as cad in another big screen adaption of an Oscar Wilde classic, Mrs. Windermere's Fan, playing the suave
Lord Robert Darlington in The Fan.
All About Eve and
In 1950 Sanders reach the height of his career when he was cast as the sharp-tongued, acerbic Addison DeWitt in All About Eve. His portrayal of aloof but coldly observant theater critics allowed Sanders to let lose his unabashed sense of world-weariness and cynicism. In a film that includes career-defining roles Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and Thelma Ritter, Sanders was highlighted by critics as one of the All About Eve's many highlights. The picture would go on gain twelve Oscar nominations and six wins including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for George Sanders.
After All About Eve Sanders appeared in coupe high profile films such as Captain Blackjack and Ivanhoe. His final major production for 20th Century Fox was the 1953 Walter Lang musical Call Me Madam. After his contract expired, Sanders chose not to resign it, instead becoming a free agent for a short time. He then traveled back to Europe to star opposite Ingrid Bergman in Roberto Rossellini's Journey to Italy. He returned to America, appearing the MGM pictures Jupiter's Darling, Moonfleet, The Scarlet Coat and The King's Thief. By This time, however, his star had begun to dim and Sanders began looking towards the rapidly growing medium of television for work.
Television and Later
By the mid-1950s Sanders started to appear on the television airwaves, making his small screen debut in The 20th Century Fox Hour. For the rest of the decade and into the next Sanders continued appearing popular series such as The Ford Television Theatre, Screen Directors Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse, General Electric Theater and Checkmate. He even appeared in the Popular Batman series as Mister Freeze. During this time he also appeared on the big screen, mainly low budget and/or foreign production like A Touch of Larceny, Five Golden Hours, Cairo and Dark Purpose. There were exceptions, of course, and in 1962 he appeared in the popular Blake Edwards' crime comedy A Shot in the Dark with Peter Sellers and Elke Sommer. He lent his voice to the very successful Disney animated feature The Jungle Book, as the villainous tiger Shere Kahn.
In 1970 he appeared in the well-received John Huston
thriller The Kremlin Letter before
descending back into low-budget films such as Doomwatch and Endless Night.
His final film was the 1973 low-budget horror film The Death Wheelers, which was released after his death.
During this time Sanders' health began to wane. His suffered a stroke and becoming increasingly depressed at his inability to take care of himself. After his much younger girlfriend convinced his sell his house in Spain, he spiraled into a deeper depression and eventually checked himself into a hospital. Two days later he would take five bottles of Barbiturate Nembutal. George Sanders died on April 25th, 1906 of suicide with a note that stated, "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck." He was 65 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
George Sanders was nominated for one Academy Award, winning for Best Supporting Actor for All about Eve (as Addison De Witt) in 1950.
|Best Supporting Actor
|All about Eve (1950)
|Addison De Witt
He was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Motion Pictures and Television.
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Addison DeWitt: Phoebe?
Phoebe: I call myself Phoebe.
Addison DeWitt: And why not? Tell me, Phoebe, do you want someday to have an award like that of your own?
Phoebe: More than anything else in the world.
Addison DeWitt: Then you must ask Miss Harrington how to get one. Miss Harrington knows all about it.
Addison DeWitt: Too bad, we're gonna miss the third act. They're gonna play it offstage.
Harry Melville Quincey: As the poet said, Home is where you go, and they have to let you in.
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