Leslie Howard

Actor, Director, Producer
Debonair English actor Leslie Howard excelled at playing disillusioned intellectuals and gallant gentlemen on the stages and screens of Britain and America for nearly 30 years. Painfully shy as a child and traumatized ... Read more »
Born: 04/03/1893 in London, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (18)

Gone With the Wind 1939 (Movie)

Ashley Wilkes (Actor)

Intermezzo 1938 (Movie)

Holger (Actor)

Pygmalion 1938 (Movie)

Professor Henry Higgins (Actor)

Stand-In 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Romeo and Juliet 1935 (Movie)

Romeo (Actor)

The Petrified Forest 1934 (Movie)

Alan Squier (Actor)

Secrets 1932 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Free Soul (Movie)

Dwight Winthrop (Actor)

Berkeley Square (Movie)

Peter Standish (Actor)

British Agent (Movie)

Stephen Locke (Actor)

Devotion (Movie)

Trent (Actor)

Five and Ten (Movie)

Bertram "Berry" Rhodes (Actor)

Outward Bound (Movie)

Tom Prior (Actor)

Pimpernel Smith (Movie)

Prof. Horatio Smith (Actor)

Smilin' Through (Movie)

John Carteret (Actor)

The Animal Kingdom (Movie)

Tom Collier (Actor)

The First of the Few (Movie)

R.J. Mitchell (Actor)

The Lady Is Willing (Movie)

Albert Latour (Actor)
Producer (3)

Intermezzo 1938 (Movie)

(Associate Producer)

Pimpernel Smith (Movie)

(Producer)

The First of the Few (Movie)

(Producer)
Director (3)

Pygmalion 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Pimpernel Smith (Movie)

(Director)

The First of the Few (Movie)

(Director)

Biography

Debonair English actor Leslie Howard excelled at playing disillusioned intellectuals and gallant gentlemen on the stages and screens of Britain and America for nearly 30 years. Painfully shy as a child and traumatized on the battlefields of World War I, Howard turned to the theater as a form of therapy, and began appearing on the stages of London within a few short years. By the 1920s, Howard had left for Broadway, where he achieved acclaim in a series of well-received productions over the following decade. He made his Hollywood debut in an adaptation one of his more successful plays "Outward Bound" (1930), and repeated that strategy with "The Animal Kingdom" (1933). Lauded performances opposite Bette Davis in "Of Human Bondage" (1933) helped make Howard one of the most popular stars of the 1930s. For better or worse, he would be forever remembered for three roles in particular - swashbuckling hero Sir Percy Blakney in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1934), egocentric Professor Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion" (1938) and milquetoast Ashley Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind" (1939). Despite his success, Howard held a rather poor opinion of Hollywood. By 1940, he had returned to England to support the war effort with a series of propaganda films, including "49th Parallel" (1941), prior to his death over the Bay of Biscay in 1943. Considered the ideal British leading man, both refined and sensitive, those close to him opined that while astonishingly talented, Howard was merely playing himself.

Relationships

Violette Cunnington

Companion
four-year relationship ended with her death in 1942 Howard's son Ronald discusses this affair in his memoirs

Marion Davies Actor

Companion
Fred Guiles claimed Davies and Howard had a "small affair" c. 1931 in his book, "Intimate Biography of Marion Davies"

Helen Deutsch Actor

Companion
had relationship in the 1920s

Alan Howard Actor

Nephew/Neice

Ronald Howard Actor

Child
Born on April 7, 1918 died on December 19, 1996 married with three children acted with father in "Pimpernel Smith" (1941)

Leslie Howard

Daughter
born on October 18, 1924

Ruth Martin

Wife
married in March 1916

Merle Oberon Actor

Companion
reportedly had a torrid affair c. 1934

Ferdinand Steiner

Father
Hungarian immigrant to the United Kingdom married Howard's mother in 1892

Lilian Steiner

Mother
English

Arthur Steiner

Brother
born in 1910 died in 1995

Jimmy Steiner

Brother
younger

Dorice Steiner

Sister
born in Vienna younger

Irene Steiner

Sister
younger

EDUCATION

Dulwich College

Milestones

1942

Narrated the film "The Gentle Sex", about the sacrifice women were being called upon to make during the war effort

1942

Helmed the documentary "War in the Mediterranean"

1942

Died when plane was shot down by Nazi fighters

1941

Directed documentary "White Eagle", which was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar

1941

Last feature film "First of the Few"

1940

Starred in, directed and produced "Pimpernel Smith", an updated version of the "Scarlet Pimpernel" character, now set during World War II

1940

Acted in World War II U-boat movie "The Forty-Ninth Parallel"

1939

Produced "Intermezzo"; David O Selznick purportedly bribed him with this project in order to secure his participation in "Gone With the Wind"

1939

Played Ashley Wilkes, the whiny, intellectual object of Scarlett O'Hara's affections, in the epic "Gone With the Wind", co-starring Gable and de Havilland

1938

Received Venice Film Festival Best Actor Award and an Oscar nomination for lead performance as Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion"

1937

Acted in "It's Love I'm After" opposite Davis and Olivia de Havilland

1936

Joined Bogart and Bette Davis in the film version of "The Petrified Forest"

1936

Co-starred with Shearer as star-crossed lovers in "Romeo and Juliet"

1935

Starred as the titular swashbuckler in "The Scarlet Pimpernel"

1935

Appeared in the stage production "The Petrified Forest" opposite Humphrey Bogart

1933

Received first Oscar nomination for performance in "Berkeley Square"

1932

Re-teamed with Shearer for the film "Smilin' Through"

1931

Featured in "Never the Twain Shall Meet"

1931

Served as actor, director and co-producer of Philip Barry's adult stage drama "The Animal Kingdom"; was responsible for having the then-unknown Katharine Hepburn fired from the production

1931

Co-starred with Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in "A Free Soul"

1930

American movie debut in "Outward Bound", reprising stage performance

1929

Produced "Berkeley Square" in London; later brought play to NYC

1927

Wrote, produced, directed and starred in the Broadway play "Murray Hill"

1927

Solidified popularity with theater critics in the bedroom farce "Her Cardboard Lover"

1925

Starred in first Broadway smash "The Green Hat"

1921

Appeared in the Broadway productions "The Wren", "Outward Bound", and "A Serpent's Tooth"

1920

Was critically panned in Broadway debut in "Just Suppose"

1920

Formed Minerva Films, Ltd with three partners; served as director while Adrian Brunel acted as producer; produced a few critically acclaimed films on a shoestring budget including "Bookworms", "Five Pounds Reward" and "The Bump"

1919

Had supporting parts in two London stage comedies: "Our Mr. Hipplewhite" and A A Milne's "Mr Pim Passes By"; also had larger role in an English film, "The Lackey and the Lady"

1918

Made London stage debut in a small role in Arthur Pinero's "The Freaks"

1917

British film acting debut in "The Happy Warrior"

1916

Diagnosed as shell-shocked during World War I; turned to stage acting as therapy (date approximate)

1914

Joined the British cavalry at the age of 21

Devoted most of his time and energy to the war effort, directing films, writing articles and making radio broadcasts

Wrote articles and stories for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Reader's Digest

Bonus Trivia

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"I haven't the slightest intentions of playing another weak, watery character. I've played enough ineffectual characters already." --Leslie Howard to "Gone With the Wind" producer David O Sleznick before accepting the part of Ashley Wilkes, the role that immortalized him.

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"Leslie Howard was a darling flirt. He'd be caressing your eyes and have his hand on someone else's leg at the same time. He was adorable." --actress Joan Blondell.

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"The stage is the actor's medium. The actor controls there. But films, why they're the director's and the cutter's . . . the actor is merely incidental". --Leslie Howard, quoted in Films of the Golden Age, Winter 1999/2000.

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"The movie studios are sweat shops killing the best in actors." --quote attributed to Leslie Howard.

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