George Arliss

February 13, 2009 by: admin

George ArlissBiography
George Arliss (1868-1946), who was born in Britain, was a small, thin-faced man and a creative actor of some brilliance. He started his stage career in 1886 at the age of eighteen. In 1901, he went to the USA with Mrs Patrick Campbell, playing opposite her in The Second Mrs Tanqueray and a repertory season. When this was finished, he was invited by David Belasco to play the villainous Zakkuri in The Darling of the Gods (1902). He next worked for Harrison Grey Fiske, appearing with Mrs Fiske in a succession of plays, including Leah Kleschna (1904) and Rosmersholm (1907). He then took the title roles in The Devil (1908) and Septimus (1909). In 1911, he created his greatest role, the title part of Disraeli. For the next decade, he played many other leading roles on Broadway and on tour, including another of the parts that won him fame – the evil Rajah in The Green Goddess (1921).

He then moved to slent films and, unexpectedly, became a star. At the age of 53, made his debut in The Devil (1921) in the title role he had played on stage 15 years earlier. The same year, he reprised on film his most famous stage role in Disraeli. In 1929, he appeared in a sound film of the play and won an Oscar for his performance, becoming the first British actor to receive the award.

For nearly a decade, he continued to appear successfully in films but, when Florence Montgomery, his actress wife, lost her sight in 1937, he retired. He wrote three autobiographies: On the Stage (1926), Up the Years from Bloomsbury (1927), and My Ten Years in the Studios (1940).

Louis Parker said that Arliss could ‘express more with one finger than most actors can express with their entire bodies’.

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