Autographed photograph of British actor Rex Harrison from the 1948 film, Escape

Rex Harrison

1908–1990 | British actor, director

Debonair British leading actor of pleasant, if limited, range, on stage since 1924; films only occasionally gave him the right material

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Rex Harrison Biography

Born in Huyton, Lancashire, Rex Harrison joined the Liverpool Repertory Company at the age of 16, began in films in 1929 and made his London stage début in 1930. In 1936, after an unsuccessful screen test for Warner’s, he was signed to an exclusive contract with Alexander Korda, following it with his stage performance in French without Tears, which established him as a star and provided him with a type – elegant and charming – that he played for most of his career.

In the mid-1940s, Harrison went to Hollywood under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox, but his stay there came to a sudden end after the scandal resulting from his affair with the actress Carole Landis, which ended with her suicide.

His best screen performances were as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (repeating his stage success), Adolphus Cusins in Major Barbara, Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit and Vivian Kenway in The Rake’s Progress.

Rex Harrison’s six wives included Lilli Palmer (1942–57), Kay Kendall (1957–59) – whom he married knowing that she was dying from leukaemia, a fact that he kept from her, and Rachel Roberts (1962–71). He was knighted in 1989.

Select Rex Harrison Filmography

Tommy Stapleton
Dr Freddie Jarvis
Gus Bennett
Adolphus Cusins
Vivian Kenway
Major David Bruce
Charles Condomine
King Mongkut
Capt Daniel Gregg
Autographed photograph of British actor Rex Harrison from the 1948 film, Escape
Escape (1948)
Matt Denant
Arthur Groome
In the Hospital: The Patient - Charles Hathaway
Anthony ‘Tony’ Preston
Cleopatra (1963)
Julius Caesar
Dr John Dolittle
+ Show all productions (5 more)

Personal Details

British actress Kay Kendall poses for a 1950s glamour photo
Wife  m. 1957–1959 (her death)

Watch Rex Harrison on British television