Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Style Icon VI: Rex Harrison

Born Reginald Carey Harrison (1908-1990), he adopted the name Rex at the age of ten and started acting at the Liverpool Playhouse at the age of sixteen. His first big break came in 1927 in a London production of Charley's Aunt but it was his performance in Heroes Don't Care that made Alexander Korda sign him for film work and they made the amusing Storm in A Teacup in 1936 but he continued with stage work, including French Without Tears (1936) and Design For Living (1939). He undertook War Servive between 1942-1944 and, after the War, had his first big film success in Blithe Spirit (1945), shortly followed by The Rake's Progress.

Hollywood claimed him and films included Anna and The King of Siam (1946) and The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) (which I remember watching with a fairly unemotional female work colleague one rainy afternoon until she burst into quite astonishing and uncontrollable tears at the end!).

Bell, Book and Candle was a further stage play (1950) and there were parts in several plays by George Bernard Shaw, leading to My Fair Lady, a musical adaptation of Pygmalion on stage in NY and London between 1956-1959 (my parents saw it just after they were married). He took his second Tony award and the Oscar for best actor for the film performance in 1964. For many years he had kept a villa at Portofino, Italy, where he enjoyed spening time with his six wives. He has been cited, by Archie Leach, as one of the influences in his creation and development of Cary Grant.

In this picture he is with Jack Warner and Audrey Hepburn: all very sveldt.

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