|Born||Friedrich Robert Donat
18 March 1905
Withington, Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
|Died||9 June 1958
London, England, UK
|Cause of death||Cerebral thrombosis|
|Spouse(s)||Ella Annesley Voysey (1929–1946)
Renée Asherson (1953–1958)
Friedrich Robert Donat (18 March 1905 – 9 June 1958) was an English film and stage actor. He is best known for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and Goodbye, Mr. Chips for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Early life 
Donat was born in Withington, Manchester, Lancashire, to Ernst Emil Donat and his wife Rose Alice (née Green) who were married at Withington's St Paul's Church, in 1895. He was of English, Polish, German and French descent and was educated at Manchester's Central High School for Boys.
Donat made his first stage appearance in 1921, at the age of 16, with Henry Baynton's company at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Birmingham, playing Lucius in Julius Caesar. His real break came in 1924 when he joined the company of Shakespearean actor Sir Frank Benson, where he stayed for four years. Donat made his film debut in 1932 in Men of Tomorrow. His first great screen success came with The Private Life of Henry VIII, playing Thomas Culpeper.
He had a successful screen image as an English gentleman who was neither haughty nor common. That made him something of a novelty in British films at the time. His most successful films included The Ghost Goes West (1935), Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935), The Citadel (1938), for which he received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). The last saw him win the Academy Award for Best Actor, over Clark Gable for Gone with the Wind, Laurence Olivier for Wuthering Heights, James Stewart for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Mickey Rooney for Babes in Arms. He was a major theatre star, noted for his performances on the British stage in Shaw's The Devil's Disciple (1938) and Heartbreak House (1942), Much Ado About Nothing (1946) and especially as Thomas Becket in T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral at the Old Vic Theatre (1952).
Donat lobbied hard to be cast in two film roles, neither of which he gained. He wanted to play the Chorus in Olivier's Henry V, but the role went to Leslie Banks, and he longed desperately to be cast against type as Bill Sikes in David Lean's Oliver Twist, but Lean thought him wrong for the part and cast Robert Newton instead.
Personal life and death 
Donat suffered from chronic asthma, which affected his career and limited him to appearing in only twenty films. For instance, it caused him to drop out of the lead role in Hobson's Choice (1954). Author David Shipman speculates that Donat's asthma may have been psychosomatic: "His tragedy was that the promise of his early years was never fulfilled and that he was haunted by agonies of doubt and disappointment (which probably were the cause of his chronic asthma)"; however, this has never been substantiated.
He died on 9 June 1958 aged 53 in London. His biographer Kenneth Barrow writes on the cause of his death: "Perhaps the asthma had weakened him but, in fact, it was discovered he had a brain tumour the size of a duck egg and cerebral thrombosis was certified as the primary cause of death."
Donat was twice married, first to Ella Annesley Voysey (1929–1946), with whom he had three children, and subsequently to British actress Renée Asherson (1953–1958). His nephew is the actor Peter Donat.
|1932||Men of Tomorrow||Julian Angell|
|1932||That Night in London||Dick Warren|
|1933||The Private Life of Henry VIII||Thomas Culpeper|
|1934||The Count of Monte Cristo||Edmond Dantès, the eponymous Count|
|1935||The 39 Steps||Richard Hannay|
|1936||The Ghost Goes West||Murdoch Glourie/Donald Glourie|
|1937||Knight Without Armour||Peter Ouronov|
|1938||The Citadel||Dr. Andrew Manson||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1939||Goodbye, Mr. Chips||Mr. Chips||Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1942||The Young Mr Pitt||William Pitt / The Earl of Chatham|
|1943||The Adventures of Tartu||Captain Terence Stevenson / Jan Tartu||released in the United States as Sabotage Agent|
|1943||The New Lot||Actor||uncredited|
|1945||Perfect Strangers||Robert Wilson|
|1947||Captain Boycott||Charles Stewart Parnell|
|1948||The Winslow Boy||Sir Robert Morton|
|1950||The Cure for Love||Sergeant Jack Hardacre|
|1951||The Magic Box||William Friese-Greene, "the forgotten inventor of movies"|
|1954||Lease of Life||Rev. William Thorne||Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor|
|1958||The Inn of the Sixth Happiness||The Mandarin of Yang Cheng||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama|
Box office ranking 
For a number of years, British film exhibitors voted him among the top ten British stars at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald.
- Obituary Variety, June 11, 1958.
-  Donat Family Letters - John Rylands University Library
- "NOTES ON FILMS.". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949–1953) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 July 1950. p. 6 Supplement: Features. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "illness May Silence Donat's Golden Voice.". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949–1953) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 2 August 1953. p. 14. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- David Shipman The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years, 1989, London: Macdonald, p. 176
- Barrow, Kenneth. Mr Chips: The Life of Robert Donat. London: Methuen (1985).
- "DONAT, ROBERT (1905–1958)". English Heritage. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "PICTURES and PERSONALITIES.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860–1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 10 April 1937. p. 5. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- 'MISCELLANY: FILM FAVOURITES', Edited by Lucio. The Manchester Guardian (1901–1959) [Manchester (UK)] 29 Dec 1941: 3.
- "FILM WORLD.". The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879–1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 28 February 1947. p. 20 Edition: SECOND EDITION. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Robert Donat at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Donat at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Robert Donat archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection- University of Bristol
- papers of Robert Donat, University of Manchester
- Photographs and literature
- Robert Donat Blog
- The Sire de Maletroit's Door starring Robert Donat on Theatre Royal: November 1, 1953.