Sir Reginald Carey “Rex” Harrison (March 5, 1908 – June 2, 1990) was an English actor. Harrison began his career on the stage in 1924. He made his West End debut in 1936 appearing in the Terence Rattigan play French Without Tears, in what was his breakthrough role. He won his first Tony Award for his performance as Henry VIII in the play Anne of the Thousand Days in 1949. He won his second Tony for the role of Professor Henry Higgins in the stage production of My Fair Lady in 1957.
In addition to his stage career, Harrison also appeared in numerous films, his early ones including All at Sea (1935), with Tyrell Davis , Googie Withers, James Carew; and All Men Are Not Gods (1936), with Miriam Hopkins, Gertrude Lawrence, and Sebastian Shaw. His first starring role was in the romantic comedy Storm in a Teacup (1937), with Vivien Leigh, Cecil Parker, and Sara Allgood. Other films in the 1930s include Andrew Marton’s School for Husbands (1937), with Diana Churchill and June Clyde; Sidewalks of London (1938), with Charles Laughton; King Vidor‘s The Citadel (1938), with Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Richardson; Over the Moon (1939), with Merle Oberon, Ursula Jeans, and Herbert Lomas; and The Silent Battle (1939), with Valerie Hobson and John Loder.
He received critical acclaim for his performance in Major Barbara (1941), with Wendy Hiller, Robert Morley, and Robert Newton; which was shot in London during the Blitz. Other films in the 1940s include Ten Days in Paris (1940), with Kaaren Verne, C.V. France, and Joan Marion; Carol Reed’s Night Train to Munich (1940), with Margaret Lockwood and Paul Henreid; David Lean‘s Blithe Spirit (1945), with Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, and Margaret Rutherford; Herbert Wilcox’s I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945), with Anna Neagle, Dean Jagger, and Robert Morley; and Sidney Gilliat’s The Rake’s Progress (1945), with Lilli Palmer.
Films in the late 1940s include John Cromwell’s Anna and the King of Siam (1946), with Irene Dunne and Linda Darnell; Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), with Gene Tierney and George Sanders; John M. Stahl’s The Foxes of Harrow (1947), with Maureen O’Hara, Richard Haydn, Victor McLaglen, Vanessa Brown, Patricia Medina, Gene Lockhart; Escape (1948), with Peggy Cummins and William Hartnell; and Preston Sturges‘ Unfaithfully Yours (1948), with Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallée, and Barbara Lawrence.
Films in the 1950s include The Long Dark Hall (1951), with Palmer and Raymond Huntley; King Richard and the Crusaders (1954), with Virginia Mayo, George Sanders, Laurence Harvey, Robert Douglas, Michael Pate, and Paula Raymond; The Constant Husband (1955), with Margaret Leighton, Kay Kendall, Cecil Parker, George Cole, and Raymond Huntley; and Vincente Minnelli‘s The Reluctant Debutante (1958), with Kendall, John Saxon, Sandra Dee, and Angela Lansbury.
Harrison received his Best Actor Academy Award nomination Cleopatra (1963), with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Roddy McDowall, Martin Landau, Hume Cronyn, and George Cole. He would win for George Cukor‘s My Fair Lady (1964), with Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper. Other films in the 1960s include David Miller’s Midnight Lace (1960), with Doris Day, John Gavin, and Myrna Loy; and Anthony Asquith’s The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), with Ingrid Bergman, Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, George C. Scott, Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, and Art Carney.
Films in the mid to late 1960s include The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), with Charlton Heston, Diane Cilento, Harry Andrews, and Alberto Lupo; The Honey Pot (1967), with Susan Hayward, Cliff Robertson, Capucine, Edie Adams, and Maggie Smith; Richard Fleischer’s Doctor Dolittle (1967), with Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, and Richard Attenborough; A Flea in Her Ear (1968), with Rosemary Harris, Louis Jourdan, and Rachel Roberts; and Stanley Donen‘s Staircase (1969), with Burton.
Later films include The Prince and the Pauper (1977), with Oliver Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Raquel Welch, Scott, Heston, and Mark Lester; Krishna Shah’s Shalimar (1978), with Dharmendra, Zeenat Aman, Shammi Kapoor, Prem Nath, Aruna Irani, Saxon, and Sylvia Miles; Ashanti (1979), with Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov, Kabir Bedi, Beverly Johnson, Omar Sharif, and William Holden; The Fifth Musketeer (1979), with Beau Bridges, Sylvia Kristel, Ursula Andress, Cornel Wilde, Ian McShane, Alan Hale Jr., and Lloyd Bridges; and A Time to Die (1982), with Edward Albert and Rod Taylor.
TV movie and miniseries include Platonov (1971), with Patsy Byrne, Siân Phillips, and Clive Revill; The Adventures of Don Quixote(1973), with Frank Finlay, Rosemary Leach, Robert Eddison, and Bernard Hepton; The Kingfisher (1983), with Wendy Hiller and Cyril Cusack; Heartbreak House (1985), with Amy Irving, Rosemary Harris, and Dana Ivey; and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986), with Irving, Olivia de Havilland, Sharif, Christian Bale, and Jan Niklas.
In 1975, Harrison released his first autobiography. In June 1989, Harrison was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Harrison was married six times (including actresses Lili Palmer, Kay Kendal, and Rachel Roberts) and had two sons: actor Noel Harrison and author Carey Harrison. He continued working in stage productions until shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in June 1990 at the age of 82. His second autobiography, A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy, was published posthumously in 1991.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- The Great Game (1930) – directed by Jack Raymond
- The School for Scandal (1930) – directed by Thorold Dickinson – uncredited bit part
- Leave It to Blanche (1934) – directed by Harold Young
- Get Your Man (1934) – directed by George King
- All at Sea (1936) – directed by Anthony Kimmins
- Men Are Not Gods (1936) – directed by Walter Reisch
- Storm in a Teacup (1937) – directed by Ian Dalrymple & Victor Saville
- School for Husbands (1937) – directed by Andrew Marton
- Sidewalks of London (1938) – directed by Tim Whelan – aka Martin’s Lane, London After Dark, & Partners of the Night
- The Citadel (1938) – directed by King Vidor
- Over the Moon (1939) – directed by Thornton Freeland & William K. Howard (uncredited)
- The Silent Battle (1939) – directed by Herbert Mason – aka Continental Express & Peace in our Time
- Ten Days in Paris (1940) – directed by Tim Whelan – aka Missing Ten Days & Spy in the Pantry
- Night Train to Munich (1940) – directed by Carol Reed
- Major Barbara (1941) – directed by Gabriel Pascal, Harold French (uncredited), & and David Lean (uncredited)
- Blithe Spirit (1945) – directed by David Lean
- I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945) – directed by Herbert Wilcox – aka A Yank in London
- Journey Together (1945) – directed by John Boulting
- The Rake’s Progress (1945) – directed by Sidney Gilliat – aka Notorious Gentleman
- Anna and the King of Siam (1946) – directed by John Cromwell
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- The Foxes of Harrow (1947) – directed by John M. Stahl
- Escape (1948) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- Unfaithfully Yours (1948) – directed by Preston Sturges
- The Long Dark Hall (1951) – directed by Reginald Beck
- The Four Poster (1952) – directed by Irving Reis
- Main Street to Broadway (1953) – directed by Tay Garnett
- King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) – directed by David Butler
- The Constant Husband (1955) – directed by Sidney Gilliat – aka Marriage a la Mode
- Crescendo (1957) – directed by Bill Colleran – TV movie
- The Reluctant Debutante (1958) – directed by Vincente Minnelli
- Midnight Lace (1960) – directed by David Miller
- The Happy Thieves (1961) – directed by George Marshall
- Cleopatra (1963) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- My Fair Lady (1964) – directed by George Cukor
- The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) – directed by Anthony Asquith
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) – directed by Carol Reed
- The Honey Pot (1967) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- Doctor Doolittle (1967) – directed by Richard Fleischer
- A Flea in Her Ear (1968) – directed by Jacques Charon
- Staircase (1969) – directed by Stanley Donen
- Platonov (1971) – directed by Christopher Morahan – TV movie
- The Adventures of Don Quixote (1973) – directed by Alvin Rakoff – TV movie
- The Prince and the Pauper (1977) – directed by Richard Fleischer – aka Crossed Swords
- Shalimar (1978) – directed by Krishna Shah
- Ashanti (1979) – directed by Richard Fleischer
- The Fifth Musketeer (1979) – directed by Ken Annakin
- A Time to Die (1982) – directed by Matt Cimber & Joe Tornatore
- The Kingfisher (1983) – directed by James Cellan Jones – TV movie
- Heartbreak House (1985) – directed by Anthony Page – TV movie
- Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986) – directed by Marvin J. Chomsky – miniseries