Reginald Owen

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For the English musician, see Reg Owen. For the bishop, see Reginald Owen (bishop).
Reginald Owen
Reginald Owen in The Miniver Story.JPG
from the trailer for The Miniver Story (1950)
Born John Reginald Owen
(1887-08-05)5 August 1887
Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Died 5 November 1972(1972-11-05) (aged 85)
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Morris Hill Cemetery, Boise.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1911–72
Spouse(s)
Lydia Bilbrook (1909[1]-23; divorced)
Mrs. Harold Austin (stage actress) (19??-56) 2 children
Barbara Haveman (1956-72; his death)

John Reginald Owen (5 August 1887 – 5 November 1972) was a British character actor. He was known for his many roles in British and American films and later in television programmes.

Career[edit]

The son of Joseph and Frances Owen, Reginald Owen studied at Sir Herbert Tree's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his professional debut in 1905. In 1911 he starred in the original production of Where the Rainbow Ends as Saint George which opened to very good reviews on 21 December 1911. Reginald Owen had a few years earlier met the author Mrs Clifford Mills as a young actor and it was he who on hearing her idea of a Rainbow Story persuaded her to turn it into a play and thus "Where the Rainbow Ends" was born.[2]

He went to the United States in 1920 and worked originally on Broadway in New York, but later moved to Hollywood, where he began a lengthy film career. He was always a familiar face in many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions.

in Petticoat Fever (1936)

Owen is perhaps best known today for his performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 film version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, a role he inherited from Lionel Barrymore, who had played the part of Scrooge on the radio every Christmas for years, after Barrymore had broken his hip in an accident.[3]

Owen was one of only four actors to play both Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr Watson (Jeremy Brett played Watson on stage in the United States prior to adopting the mantle of Holmes on British television,[4] Carleton Hobbs played both roles in British radio adaptations[5] while Patrick Macnee played both roles in US television films).[6]

Owen first played Watson in the film Sherlock Holmes (1932), and then Holmes himself in A Study in Scarlet (1933). Having played Ebenezer Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Owen has the odd distinction of playing three classic characters of Victorian fiction only to live to see those characters be taken over and personified by other actors, namely Alastair Sim as Scrooge, Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson.

as Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet (1933)

Later in his career, Owen appeared opposite James Garner in the television series Maverick in the episodes "The Belcastle Brand" (1957) and "Gun-Shy" (1958) and in episodes of the series One Step Beyond and Bewitched. He was also featured in the Walt Disney films Mary Poppins (1964) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). He had a small role in the 1962 Irwin Allen production of the Jules Verne novel Five Weeks in a Balloon. In August 1964, his Bel-Air mansion was rented out to the Beatles, who were performing at the Hollywood Bowl, when no hotel would book them.[7]

He died from a heart attack at age 85 in Boise, Idaho.

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FreeBMD.org.uk Marriage registered June Quarter 1909
  2. ^ Forward by Italia Conti to the eighteenth edition (1942) of Where the Rainbow Ends
  3. ^ Landazuri, Margaret. Archives Spotlight: Young Dr. Kildare. Turner Classic Movies.com; accessed 7 December 2007
  4. ^ Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 39. ISBN 1-903111-04-8. 
  5. ^ Allen Eyles (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 86. ISBN 0-06-015620-1. 
  6. ^ Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 60. ISBN 1-903111-04-8. 
  7. ^ Author: A.J.S. Rayl; Book: "Beatles '64"; New York, Doubleday, 1989; page 96

External links[edit]