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Leslie Howard

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Pygmalion: Essential Art House... George Bernard Shaw wrote the screenplay adaptation of his own beloved stage... more info $19.95was $19.95 Buy Now

Secrets DVD By 1933, silent star Mary Pickford was on her way out of the movie business, and... more info $19.95was $19.95 Buy Now

The Animal Kingdom DVD Wonton, carefree playboy Tom (Leslie Howard) is the salaciously behaving heir to... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Essential Art House, Vol. 2... A 6-disc set of some of the finest cinematic masterworks ever to grace the... more info $99.95was $99.95 Buy Now

It's Love I'm After DVD Star-struck Marcia (Olivia de Havilland) could care less that famed thespian... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Leslie Howard Stainer, Leslie Howard Steiner Died: June 1, 1943
Born: April 3, 1893 Cause of Death: airplane shot down by Nazis during WW II
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor, director, producer, playwright, intelligence agent for the British government, bank clerk

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Gentle Sex, The (1943) Director
2.
  The First of the Few (1942) Director
3.
  Pimpernel Smith (1941) Director
4.
  Pygmalion (1939) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 In Which We Serve (1942) Voice Over
2.
 The First of the Few (1942) R J Mitchell
3.
 49th Parallel (1941) Philip Armstrong Scott
4.
 Intermezzo, a Love Story (1939) Holger [Brandt]
5.
 Pygmalion (1939) [Professor Henry] Higgins
6.
 Gone With the Wind (1939) Ashley [Wilkes], his son
7.
 It's Love I'm After (1937) Basil [Underwood]
8.
 Stand-In (1937) Atterbury Dodd
9.
 The Petrified Forest (1936) Alan Squire
10.
 Romeo and Juliet (1936) Romeo, son of Montague
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1914:
Joined the British cavalry at the age of 21
1916:
Diagnosed as shell-shocked during World War I; turned to stage acting as therapy (date approximate)
1917:
British film acting debut in "The Happy Warrior"
1918:
Made London stage debut in a small role in Arthur Pinero's "The Freaks"
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"
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"
1920:
Was critically panned in Broadway debut in "Just Suppose"
:
Wrote articles and stories for <i>The New Yorker, Vanity Fair</i> and <i>Reader's Digest</i>
1921:
Appeared in the Broadway productions "The Wren", "Outward Bound", and "A Serpent's Tooth"
1925:
Starred in first Broadway smash "The Green Hat"
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"
1929:
Produced "Berkeley Square" in London; later brought play to NYC
1930:
American movie debut in "Outward Bound", reprising stage performance
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"
1932:
Re-teamed with Shearer for the film "Smilin' Through"
1933:
Received first Oscar nomination for performance in "Berkeley Square"
1935:
Starred as the titular swashbuckler in "The Scarlet Pimpernel"
1935:
Appeared in the stage production "The Petrified Forest" opposite Humphrey Bogart
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"
1937:
Acted in "It's Love I'm After" opposite Davis and Olivia de Havilland
1938:
Received Venice Film Festival Best Actor Award and an Oscar nomination for lead performance as Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion"
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
1939:
Produced "Intermezzo"; David O Selznick purportedly bribed him with this project in order to secure his participation in "Gone With the Wind"
1941:
Acted in World War II U-boat movie "The Forty-Ninth Parallel"
1941:
Starred in, directed and produced "Pimpernel Smith", an updated version of the "Scarlet Pimpernel" character, now set during World War II
1942:
Last feature film "First of the Few"
1942:
Directed documentary "White Eagle", which was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar
1943:
Helmed the documentary "War in the Mediterranean"
1943:
Narrated the film "The Gentle Sex", about the sacrifice women were being called upon to make during the war effort
:
Devoted most of his time and energy to the war effort, directing films, writing articles and making radio broadcasts
1943:
Died when plane was shot down by Nazi fighters
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Dulwich College: -

Notes

"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.

"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.

"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.

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

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ruth Evelyn Martin. Married in March 1916.
companion:
Helen Deutsch. Screenwriter, author. Had relationship in the 1920s.
companion:
Marion Davies. Actress. Fred Guiles claimed Davies and Howard had a "small affair" c. 1931 in his book, "Intimate Biography of Marion Davies".
companion:
Merle Oberon. Actress. Reportedly had a torrid affair c. 1934.
companion:
Violette Cunnington. Secretary. Four-year relationship ended with her death in 1942; Howard's son Ronald discusses this affair in his memoirs.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ferdinand Steiner. Stockbroker. Hungarian immigrant to the United Kingdom; married Howard's mother in 1892.
mother:
Lilian Steiner. English.
brother:
Arthur Steiner. Actor. Born in 1910; died in 1995.
brother:
Jimmy Steiner. Younger.
sister:
Irene Steiner. Younger.
sister:
Dorice Steiner. Born in Vienna; younger.
son:
Ronald Howard. Actor. Born on April 7, 1918; died on December 19, 1996; married with three children; acted with father in "Pimpernel Smith" (1941).
daughter:
Leslie Ruth Howard. Born on October 18, 1924.
nephew:
Alan Howard. Actor.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"A Quite Remarkable Father" Harcourt, Brace & Co
"In Search of My Father" St. Martin's Press

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