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Eric Portman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (12)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, UK
Died in St Veep, Cornwall, England, UK  (heart ailment)
Birth NameEric 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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Trivia (12)

A noted Shakespearean actor, Portman's stage career dated back to 1924.
In 1942, he was voted one of the top 10 money making film stars in Britain.
Was a lifelong bachelor.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1957 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "Separate Tables.".
Ill health forced him to retire from the stage in early 1968 whilst playing in Galsworthy's "Justice".
Joined the Old Vic Company in 1927.
In 1923 he joined Robert Courtneidge's Shakespeare Company while it was playing at The Grand Theatre, Leeds. His first speaking part was with the company at the Victoria Theatre, Sunderland in 1924.
Worked for a time as shop assistant in Leeds and in his spare time was a member of the Halifax Opera Society.
Was educated at Rishworth School.
The Portman and Pickles Public House in Halifax, West Yorkshire is named after Portman and another great talent from the town, Wilfred Pickles.
Bryan Forbes believed Portman's chronic alcoholism greatly undermined his career.
Lived with Knox Laing from the 1940s until his death.

Personal Quotes (1)

Acting is like masturbation--one either does it or one doesn't, but one never talks about it.

See also

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