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Few actors in the post-war period could match the jovial, stiff-upper-lip, British geniality of Kenneth More who died on 12 July, 1982, aged 67. An accomplished stage and film actor, Mr More was seemingly never off the cinema screen in the 1950s, nearly always portraying characters who were likeable, reliable and quintessentially English. Yet he had a greater emotional range than many gave him credit for and turned in many strong performances in serious dramas such as the biopic of disabled pilot Douglas Bader – Reach for the Sky in 1956. The film that made him a star was Genevieve (1953) and after his stardom waned in the 1960s he returned to the spotlight again in the television series, The Forsyte Saga. Kenneth Gilbert More was born in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, on 20 September, 1914, into a comfortable middle-class family and was educated at Victoria College in Jersey . He originally wanted to be a civil engineer but when his father died, leaving a legacy of debts, he was forced to search for more immediate employment. Drifting through an array of jobs he was even, for a short time, a Canadian fur trapper. Eventually a family friend secured him a job as a stage-hand at the burlesque Windmill Theatre where, in between the performances of scantily clad women, Mr More began appearing in comedy sketches. He served as a naval lieutenant in the Second World War and on his return began performing in regional repertory theatre and the West End where he built a reputation as a reliable leading man. Though he played bit-parts in a brace of films in the 1930s, Mr More’s official screen debut was opposite John Mills as Lieutenant Teddy Evans in Scott of the Antarctic in 1948. In 1953 he became a household name playing the happy-go-lucky Ambrose Claverhouse in Genevieve, a light British comedy about the London to Brighton car race. He played a similar role in Doctor in the House the following year. Whilst he appeared in a steady stream of light comedies thereafter he turned in strong dramatic performances in Reach for the Sky (1956) and Sink the Bismarck ! (1960). With the shift towards more working class dramas, there was less demand for Mr More’s breezy, genial middle class persona on stage and screen. He resurrected his career playing Jolyon Forsyte in the popular television series The Forsyte Saga in 1967. Married three times – to actress Beryl Johnstone (1939-46), Bill Barkby (1958-68) and actress Angela Douglas (1968 until his death), he had two daughters – Susan and Sarah. Known to have led a colourful personal life, many of his drinking exploits with hell-raisers Trevor Howard and Jack Hawkins made the newspaper headlines. He was awarded a CBE in 1970 and was nominated for a BAFTA on four occasions, winning the best actor award for Doctor in the House in 1954. There is a theatre named after him in Ilford, Essex. It is as the cheerfully reliable comic actor that Mr More will always be remembered. As he said himself: “As the game goes on and spectators invade the pitch, it is good to feel that some things and some people seem to stay just as they were.”
Kenneth More was England to me. He helped to mold me into the person i am today. Thank you, Mr More. I miss your presents on earth.
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Viewed by: 6928 visitors. Uploaded: 36 years ago
Published in: Online.
Published from: July 12, 1982.
Region: National
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Left by Steve Gill :
A brilliant actor and great to be able to watch his movies on TV. Recently watched 'Reach for the sky' and can only say he was one of the top performers for me.
Left by Steve Gill: 23/09/2017
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Left by Kay 21.10.14 :
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Left by Jono Barbera :
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