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

Rex Harrison


British actor, director (died aged 82) | Major Barbara (1941), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), Blithe Spirit (1945)

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

Men Are Not Gods (1936)
Tommy Stapleton
Over the Moon (1939)
Dr Freddie Jarvis
Night Train to Munich (1940)
Gus Bennett
Major Barbara (1941)
Adolphus Cusins
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Charles Condomine
I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945)
Major David Bruce
The Rake’s Progress (1945)
Vivian Kenway
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
King Mongkut
The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947)
Capt Daniel Gregg
Escape (1948)
Matt Denant
The Long Dark Hall (1951)
Arthur Groome
The Constant Husband (1955)
In the Hospital: The Patient - Charles Hathaway
Midnight Lace (1960)
Anthony Preston
The Happy Thieves (1961)
Jimmy Bourne
Cleopatra (1963)
Julius Caesar
My Fair Lady (1964)
Professor Henry Higgins
Doctor Dolittle (1967)
Dr John Dolittle
The Honey Pot (1967)
Cecil Fox
The Prince and the Pauper (1977)
The Duke of Norfolk
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Personal Details

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

Watch Rex Harrison on British television

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