|Born||in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, UK|
|Died||in St Veep, Cornwall, England, UK (heart ailment)|
|Birth Name||Eric Harold Portman|
Mini Bio (1)
With his clipped delivery, aristocratic if somewhat ominous manner and suave, urbane demeanor, Eric Portman was so good at playing German and/or Nazi officers that many believed he actually was German, or at least Austrian. The fact is that he was British to the core, having been born and raised in Yorkshire and educated in Halifax. He began his acting career on the stage in 1923, specializing in works by William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. His film debut came in the Tod Slaughter melodrama Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (1935) as, oddly enough, a Gypsy.
Portman became a favorite of renowned filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, leading to a role he is probably best remembered for--the determined Nazi commander of a German U-boat sunk off the coast of Canada in 49th Parallel (1941), who tries to lead his crew across Canada in order to get to the safety of the US, which was at the time not involved in the war. His versatility was obvious in a film he made the next year, One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) as an RAF officer who finds himself stranded in Nazi-occupied Holland.
Portman kept busy over the next 25 years in a variety of roles, as villain and hero, in both thrillers and dramas. After making Deadfall (1968) he retired, apart from a few television projects over the next year or so. He died in 1969 of heart problems.
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