Basil Sydney

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Basil Sydney
Rj59.jpg
Basil Sydney and Doris Keane as Romeo and Juliet
Born (1894-04-23)23 April 1894
St Osyth, Essex, England, UK
Died 10 January 1968(1968-01-10) (aged 73)
London, England, UK
Cause of death
pleurisy
Years active 1920-1964
Spouse(s) Joyce Howard (divorced)
Doris Keane (1918-25; divorced)
Mary Ellis (m.1929)

Basil Sydney (23 April 1894 - 10 January 1968) was an English actor who made over fifty screen appearances, most memorably as Claudius in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film of Hamlet. He also appeared in classic films like Treasure Island (1950), Ivanhoe (1952) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), but the focus of his career was the legitimate stage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sydney made his name in the London stage hit Romance by Edward Sheldon in the dual role of the priest and the priest's nephew opposite the play's Broadway star Doris Keane in 1915, and costarred with Keane in the 1920 silent film of the play. The couple married in 1918, and when Keane revived Romance in New York in 1921, Sydney made his Broadway debut in the parts. He stayed in New York for over a decade playing classical roles like Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (1922) Richard Dudgeon in The Devil's Disciple (1923), the title role in Hamlet (1923), Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part I (1926), and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew (1927).

In 1925 he divorced Keane; four years later, in 1929, he married actress Mary Ellis, and the couple moved to England. There he concentrated more on film than on theatre work. In the 1940s he married English film actress Joyce Howard; they had three children.

Sydney died from pleurisy in 1968, aged 73.

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