- Michael Denison
with wife, Dulcie Gray
Born John Michael Terence Wellesley Denison
1 November 1915
Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England
Died 22 July 1998(aged 82)
Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England
Occupation Actor Years active 1938-1996 Spouse Dulcie Gray (1939-1998) his death
Denison was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in 1915. He was raised by his aunt and uncle from the age of three weeks, following the death of his mother and his estrangement from his father. He was educated at Harrow where he took part in school productions. It was while at Magdalen College, Oxford University, studying modern languages that he met John Gielgud and decided to take up acting seriously.
After graduating, he attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where he met Dulcie Gray, a fellow student, who later became his wife in 1939 and his acting partner. They appeared in over 100 West End productions, together in some 28 plays in London and countless tours of England and elsewhere. They also appeared together in several films. Their intertwined professional lives reached their pinnacle in 1996 with their first appearance together on Broadway, in the Peter Hall production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. Their last appearance together was in Curtain Up, an evening of reminiscences at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London, shortly before he died.
Denison made his stage debut in 1938 as Lord Fancourt Babberly in a Frinton-on-Sea production of Charley's Aunt and in the same year, he made his West End appearance at the Westminster Theatre, playing Paris in Troilus and Cressida. During the second world war, he interrupted his career to join the Royal Signals and then transferred to the Intelligence Corps and was involved in the liberation of Greece, He remained in the British Army until he was demobbed in 1946.
Denison typically played the quintessential English gentleman. He made his film debut in the film Tilly of Bloomsbury in 1940. While Denison acted in only 21 films during his course of his career, these included such classics as Anthony Asquith's The Importance of Being Earnest (1952; with Michael Redgrave and Edith Evans) and Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands (1993) with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger). He also worked in television, taking the lead in the Associated-Rediffusion/ITV series Boyd Q.C., which ran for 78 episodes from 1957 to 1963. He became the director of the New Shakespeare Company in 1971. He also served as council and vice-president of Equity.
He published two volumes of memoirs, Overture and Beginners (1973) and Double Act (1985). He also contributed many entries to the Dictionary of National Biography. Denison was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II with the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and both he and his wife were designated Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1983.
- Tilly of Bloomsbury (1940)
- Hungry Hill (1947)
- Landfall (1949)
- The Franchise Affair (1951)
- The Magic Box (1952)
- Angels One Five (1952)
- The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
- Contraband Spain (1955)
- The Truth About Women (1957)
- Faces in the Dark (1960)
- Shadowlands (1993)
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