Denholm Elliott Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (22)  | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (4)

Born in Ealing, London, England, UK
Died in Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain  (AIDS)
Birth NameDenholm Mitchell Elliott
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Much-loved character actor who specialised in playing slightly sleazy/slightly eccentric and often flawed upper middle class English gentlemen. His career spanned nearly 40 years, becoming a well-known face both in Britain and in the States.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Roger Davies <roger@easynet.co.uk>

Spouse (2)

Susan Robinson (15 June 1962 - 6 October 1992) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Virginia McKenna (1 March 1954 - 18 June 1957) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

He frequently played upper-middle-class English characters
He frequently played well-mannered, ineffectual characters
He frequently played alcoholics
He frequently played cads and confidence tricksters

Trivia (22)

He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. His plane was shot down over Germany in 1942 and he spent the rest of the War in Stalag 8B Prisoner of War camp in Silesia.
He had two children, Jennifer Elliott and Mark Elliott. Jennifer became addicted to heroin and hanged herself in 2003.
He lost the top of his right thumb in a childhood accident with a lawnmower.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1988 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to Drama.
Although he became widely recognized as a screen actor, he also had a prolific stage career, which included classical performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
A bisexual with many partners during his life, he tested HIV positive in 1987 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. He continued working until a year before he died in 1992. Following his death, some sources stated that he acquired the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion. However, his widow Susan documented their open marriage and her husband's bisexuality in her book "Denholm Elliott: Quest for Love", published two years after his death.
According to the American film critic Leonard Maltin, he became most widely known to movie audiences as the academic Marcus Brody in two installments of the hugely successful Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and as the valet, Coleman, in the Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd comedy Trading Places (1983).
He was educated at Malvern College, a private school in Worcestershire, England.
Rather than recast the role of Marcus Brody in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), director Steven Spielberg and writer David Koepp created a new character, Charles Stanforth, played by Jim Broadbent. The passing of Marcus Brody is acknowledged several times in the film, with a portrait of him hanging in the hallway outside Indy's classroom, a statue of him in a University courtyard, and a malt shop named "Brody's.".
His father was Myles Layman Elliott and his mother was Nina Mitchell.
His wife Susan, born March 7th, 1942 in Cleveland, died from injuries from a fire in her one bedroom flat April 12, 2007 in north London. Her neighbour, journalist Rob Lyons, tried to save her during the fire and was able to move her from her wheelchair down to the street waiting for the ambulance to arrive, she died a day later.
He performed (with Joss Ackland) the first gay kiss seen on a West End stage in John Mortimer's play "Bermondsey" in 1971.
He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) but was asked to leave after one term. As Elliott later recalled: "They wrote to my mother and said, 'Much as we like the little fellow, he's wasting your money and our time. Take him away!'".
He was a particular favorite with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in the 1980s, when he won the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in three consecutive years, the only actor ever to have achieved this. For instance, in 1982, he was nominated for Best Supporting Artist for his tiny role as Marcus Brody, who appears at the beginning and end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and is not part of the main story, while Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey and John Rhys-Davies, who had much more central roles in the main part of the film, were completely overlooked. After Elliott won Best Supporting Actor for Defense of the Realm (1985), Gabriel Byrne, the star of the film who was not nominated at the awards, joked "never act with children, dogs, or Denholm Elliott".
He was on the list of possible actors for the roles of Dr. Hans Fallada, Dr. Bukovsky, Dr. Armstrong and Sir Percy Heseltine in Lifeforce (1985).
He was of English, Scottish, and Irish descent.
He appeared in two very different adaptations of "The Hound of the Baskervilles", Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes novel, in the space of just five years. These were The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978), a widely panned spoof version starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), a more serious version which starred Ian Richardson and Donald Churchill. He played Stapleton in the former and Dr. Mortimer in the latter.
He appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Alfie (1966), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and A Room with a View (1985).
He served as an RAF Officer during World War II and later played such an officer in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
He appeared in four films with Sean Connery: Robin and Marian (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Cuba (1979) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
The British magazine "TV Times" stated in 1975 that "since the death of Dennis Price he has cornered the market in playing upper-class drunks and con-men. But Price's villains were suave, Elliott's are seedy".
According to fellow British actor John Nettleton in the book "Remembering Ronnie Barker", Elliott's confidence was "severely dented" when he starred as Kilroy in a British stage production of Tennessee Williams's play "Camino Real" in 1957, after Williams complimented him on his choice to play Kilroy, an all-American southern boy, as an Australian. Elliott had actually been working for weeks trying to perfect a southern American accent. According to Nettleton, Elliott never got over Williams's comment.

Personal Quotes (9)

I like actors - such as Margaret Rutherford and Peter Lorre - who aren't afraid to over-act like real people. When I take a job I can always come up with ten different ways of doing the part. But I'll always choose the flashiest one. You've got to dress the window a bit.
I'm often given parts that aren't as big as they are colorful, but people remember them. When it's a minor or supporting role, you learn to make the most of what you're given. I can make two lines seem like 'Hamlet'.
I love my freedom and I hate the demands that are made on you. I mean the number of jobs actually that I've turned down is incredible. If I took them all and pushed and was seen in the right places and did all that nonsense, I suppose one could become a top-ranking star. I think the price is too high, quite honestly.
[in 1974] Where I am at the moment I know that I could be - if I wished to be - a top-ranking star because I have the power and the technique, I think, to take on anyone and the only thing that has stopped me from being a top-ranking star is my desire to be - which I've never wanted. It's only recently have I achieved the weight to if I want to be. I mean I could go to Stratford and play Prospero, I could have taken a television series and built myself up and done all sorts of things but I don't. I like an anonymity and I like sort of in a sense being an amateur.
I think you can be terribly overexposed. I've been always very careful in my career to do theatre, it takes you out of the television eye and people are glad to see you back again. I mean if you're on every week...one week last year I was on I think five times a week in different things, re-runs of films and plays and things.
[on A Murder of Quality (1991)] I thought Guinness [Alec Guinness] was brilliant as Smiley. But I thought he was very, very dry. I decided to play him far more eccentric and with as much comedy as I could.
[on Trading Places (1983)] My agent said, 'If you accept the terms of the contract they are offering you, they will despise you. I know the Americans. You are not asking for enough money or first-class transportation or a very good hotel. Your per diem is ridiculous and your billing is non-existent.' Five days later they came back with double everything. I had a flight on the Concorde, the best hotel, star billing, everything. There's sort of a gratitude in their eyes that you got twice the amount of cash out of them because they think they are buying something. If they think they got you cheap, they are worried about it.
I always think instinct is more interesting than anything you can think up. I mistrust and am rather bored with actors who are of the Stanislavski school who think about detail. God almighty. Children just do it when they act. I think we should too - jump in and do it.
[on RADA] I was asked to leave. They said I had no talent. I disliked it intensely there. It was all filled with acting students who thought they were so grand and knew it all. It made me feel ridiculously stupid.

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