|Sir John Gielgud|
Gielgud in 1973
|Born||Arthur John Gielgud
14 April 1904
South Kensington, London, England
|Died||21 May 2000
Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, England
|Occupation||Actor, singer, director|
|Partner(s)||Martin Hensler (ca. 1963–1998)|
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (//; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet, which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. He was known for his beautiful speaking of verse and particularly for his warm and expressive voice, which his colleague Sir Alec Guinness likened to "a silver trumpet muffled in silk". Gielgud is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award.
Birth and family background 
John Gielgud was born in South Kensington in London to Katie Terry and Frank Gielgud. He had a theatrical lineage - on his father's side his great grandmother Aniela Aszpergerowa, had been a well known Polish actress (called by British press incorrectly Lithuanian). Gielgud family had Lithuanian roots.,- and on his mother's side, being the grandson of actress Kate Terry, whose actor-siblings included Ellen Terry, Marion Terry and Fred Terry.
Gielgud's Catholic father, Franciszek Giełgud, born in 1880, was a descendant of a Polish noble family residing at a manor in a town called Giełgudyszki (now Gelgaudiškis in Marijampolė County, Lithuania). In his autobiography, Gielgud states repeatedly and clearly that his father was Polish Catholic, and mentions Gelgaudiškis as being his ancestral home whence his family and their surname originated.
His elder brother Val came to be a pioneering influence in BBC Radio. His brother Lewis was a scholar, writer, intelligence officer and humanitarian worker. His niece Maina Gielgud is a dancer and one time artistic director of the Australian Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet.
Early stages 
After Hillside Preparatory School in Godalming, Surrey he won a scholarship to Westminster School where he started his public school life in September 1917 as a weekly boarder, and where he was elected a non-resident Kings Scholar in 1918. Having joined the school's art class he showed talent at sketching, and he spent hours at home designing and constructing elaborate scenery for his toy theatre. He admired Beardsley, Dulac, and Rackham, and imitated them, and at this time he had the idea that he would like to be a scenic designer. But when he was about 16 he made a decision to become an actor and in July 1921 he auditioned for, and won, a scholarship at the drama school which Lady Benson, Sir Frank's wife, ran off the Cromwell Road.
In 1922 he took his first salaried job in the professional theatre when his second cousin, Phyllis Neilson-Terry, offered him the chance to tour with her. At the suggestion of an actor in the company Gielgud next trained briefly at RADA after which J. B. Fagan, the director of a small repertory company at the Oxford Playhouse, offered him a contract. In 1925 at Oxford he first appeared in Chekhov, playing Trofimov in a production of The Cherry Orchard.
At this period also he understudied Noël Coward in the playwright's The Vortex, first at the Royalty Theatre, and then at The Little Theatre, after Coward left for a holiday before taking the play to America. At this point in his development also he met Theodore Komisarjevsky, the Russian director who would exert a strong influence on Gielgud over the next ten years. Basil Dean, the theatre manager, offered him the chance to play the part of Leslie Dodd, the composer-hero of The Constant Nymph, and again he under studied Coward before appearing himself in the role, in London and on tour. Altogether he was to be in the play for over 14 months until the end of 1927.
His first chance to go to America arrived when he was offered the part of the Tsarevich in the Broadway production of Alfred Neumann's The Patriot and though the play was a failure, Gielgud liked New York, and he got a favourable reaction from some of the critics, including the influential Alexander Woollcott. In 1929 Lilian Baylis of the Old Vic appointed a new director, Harcourt Williams, and he asked Gielgud if he would join the Old Vic as a leading actor in the company he was forming. Gielgud met with Baylis and did join the company.
At a time in theatrical history when Shakespeare and the classics were out of favour in the commercial theatre, since the middle-class playgoing public taste in the middle 1920s was for farces, light comedies, thrillers, revuues and American musicals, Gielgud was now to develop his potential as a classical actor, first winning stardom during a successful two seasons at the Old Vic Theatre from 1929 to 1931 where his performances as Richard II and Hamlet were particularly acclaimed, the latter being the first Old Vic production to be transferred to the West End for a run. Harcourt Williams later wrote that Gielgud's playing of the Abdication Scene in Richard II would remain in his mind as 'one of the great things [he had] witnessed in the theatre', and the critic James Agate, who played a part in making Gielgud a star, called his playing of Hamlet "the high-water mark of English Shakespearean acting in our time."
He returned to the role of Prince Hamlet in a production under his own direction in 1934 at the New Theatre in the West End. He was hailed as a Broadway star in Guthrie McClintic's production in which Lillian Gish played Ophelia in 1936. (The production's popularity was assisted when a rival staging featuring film actor Leslie Howard opened shortly afterward and was critically denounced in comparison to Gielgud's. Gielgud's production broke the long-run record for a Broadway "Hamlet.") There followed a 1939 production that Gielgud again directed at the Lyceum Theatre, historic for having been the professional home for Henry Irving's company. This was the last production to play the Lyceum until 50 years later when it was restored. Gielgud's Hamlet was later taken to Elsinore Castle in Denmark (the actual setting of the play), there was a 1944 production directed by George Rylands, and finally a 1945 production that toured the Far East under Gielgud's own direction. In his later years, Gielgud played the Ghost of Hamlet's Father in productions of the play, first to Richard Burton's Melancholy Dane on the Broadway stage which Gielgud directed in 1964, then on television with Richard Chamberlain, and finally in a radio production starring Gielgud's protégé Kenneth Branagh.
Gielgud had triumphs in many other plays, his greatest popular success in this period, Richard of Bordeaux (1933), is a romantic version of the life of Richard II, The Importance of Being Earnest which he first performed at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1930 and which remained in his repertory until 1947, and a production of Romeo and Juliet (1935) which Gielgud directed and alternated the roles of Romeo and Mercutio with a young Laurence Olivier in his first professional Shakespearean leading role. Olivier's performance won him an engagement as the leading man of the Old Vic Theatre the following season, starting his career as a classical actor, but he was said to have resented Gielgud's direction and developed a wary relationship with Gielgud which resulted in Olivier turning down Gielgud's request to play the Chorus in Olivier's film of Henry V and later doing his best to block Gielgud from appearing at the Royal National Theatre when Olivier was its director. Other notable early roles for Gielgud included Sergius in Harcourt Williams's Old Vic production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man, Inigo Jollifant in Edward Knoblock's adaptation of J.B. Priestley's novel The Good Companions, back in the West End, and Joseph Schindler in Ronald Mackenzie's Musical Chairs (1 April - 31 December 1932).
Queen's Theatre season 
Gielgud had hoped to stay in America after his Broadway performance as Hamlet in 1936 to play Richard II in New York, but director Guthrie McClintic was so certain that the production would fail in the United States that Gielgud gave up the idea (and was dismayed when Maurice Evans had a legendary success in the play on Broadway after Gielgud gave him his blessing to mount it when he decided not to).
However much Gielgud may have wished to stay in America, his return to London in 1937 had an enormous influence on the development of English Theatre. In 1937 and 1938, he produced a season of plays at the Queen's Theatre, presenting the aforementioned Richard II, The School for Scandal, Three Sisters, and The Merchant of Venice with a permanent company that included himself, Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Redgrave, Harry Andrews, Dennis Price and Alec Guinness. Although not always acknowledged for this achievement, Gielgud set a precedent in establishing a company of actors gathered together to present classics. This effort proved it could be done and shaped the development of such future theatrical institutions as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre.
Gielgud acted in all four productions and directed the two Shakespeare plays, while Tyrone Guthrie directed The School for Scandal and Michael Saint-Denis staged Three Sisters. Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft always strove to create a pleasant environment too - though Gielgud's tactlessness could upset colleagues. Speaking to his new company about his time in America, he said "When I did Hamlet for Guthrie McClintic, I had a rather poor Horatio. Oh, it was you, Harry. Well, you've improved so much since then." Sheridan Morley wrote in his authorised biography: "Accustomed as we have now become to...the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, it is almost impossible to conceive how revolutionary John's idea was for the West End of 1937, where there had simply been nothing like it since the heyday of Henry Irving and the actor-managers more than fifty years earlier."[page needed]
Laurence Olivier said that Gielgud's performance in The School for Scandal was "the best light comedy performance I have ever seen - or ever shall!" and considered his Shylock to be among his greatest impersonations, but the greatest success of the season was the production of Three Sisters. That production went far toward Gielgud's successful effort to establish Chekhov's's viability on the English-speaking stage. Gielgud's own performance as Vershinin, along with his past successes as Treplev, and then Trigorin, in The Seagull (1929 and 1936), and his later work in The Cherry Orchard (1954), and Ivanov (1965) were part of that Chekhovian legacy.
In August 1938 Gielgud was offered a large salary to play in Dodie Smith's Dear Octopus with Marie Tempest and tired of the worry of management, he accepted. He spent over ten months in the play at the Queen's Theatre. A revival of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Globe Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue followed, but on 3 September 1939 war was declared 'and the Globe Theatre went dark.'
Gielgud volunteered for active service but in October 1939 was told he would not be called up for at least six months. Hugh Beaumont arranged a regional tour of The Importance of Being Earnest and it returned to the Globe to run until the end of February 1940. Gielgud also prepared a lecture with illustrative speeches, Shakespeare in Peace and War, and while on tour delivered it in theatres on Sundays. He was asked by Rudolph Bing to direct a London production of The Beggar's Opera and was next involved in the first major theatrical event of the war, the re-opening of the Old Vic, in a special Shakespearean season with Tyrone Guthrie as co-director, and then, July 1940, toured military camps with a programme of three short plays. Two of these were from Coward's Tonight at 8.30 and the third was Gielguds own adaptation of Chekhov's Swan Song. In January 1941 he returned to the West End, where only nine theatres were open, in Dear Brutus by J. M.Barrie, a whimsical fantasy about an enchanted wood. It was popular, and after a run at the Globe until May 1941, the company next went on tour to provincial theatres, and then, for ENSA, to the camps staging the play in huts and recreation halls.
A long-planned production of Macbeth opened in Manchester in January 1942 with music by William Walton. In July 1942 it opened in London, at the Piccadilly Theatre, where it continued until October, and then Gielgud appeared in another revival of The Importance of Being Earnest. Getting to know the play so well he believed now it was dangerous to play with too much speed and that played too fast it could sound like Coward, and the farcical deliberateness Wilde intended, could be lost. Over Christmas 1942 he participated in a four-week ENSA tour of Gibraltar. In 1943 he revived Love for Love for the West End with a cast that included Yvonne Arnaud, Angela Baddeley, Miles Malleson and Naomi Jacob. He invited Rex Whistler to design the scenery. The play's innuendo and coarse language notwithstanding, audiences were enthusiastic and it ran for over a year at the Haymarket. He completed many other pieces of work within this schedule and his playing in Eric Linklater's radio play The Great Ship, led to the writer wanting to write for the theatre. His subsequent play Crisis in Heaven, was directed by Gielgud (May 1944). At the war's end work for ENSA continued with a five months' tour of the Middle and Far East,(October 1945-February 1946), taking a new production of Hamlet, and also Blithe Spirit. When this exhausting tour ended he played in Rodney Ackland's dramatization of Crime and Punishment. Perhaps too old Gielgud was not ideally placed to play Raskolnikoff, the poverty-wracked Russian student, though James Agate called it ' the best thing after Hamlet he has ever given us'.
Shakespearean legacy 
It has always been, however, for his Shakespearean work that Gielgud has been best known. In addition to Hamlet, which he played over 500 times in six productions, he gave what some consider definitive performances in The Tempest (as Prospero) in four productions (and in the 1991 film Prospero's Books), as well as in other roles - Richard II in three productions, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing which he first played in 1930 and revived throughout the 1950s, Macbeth and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream twice, Romeo three times, and King Lear four times (as well as taking on the part for a final time in a radio broadcast at the age of 90). He also had triumphs as Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1931), Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1937), Angelo in Measure for Measure (1950), Cassius in Julius Caesar (1950) (which he immortalised in the 1953 film), Leontes in The Winter's Tale (1951), and Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII (1959) (although his 1960 performance as Othello was not a success). It became rumoured that Gielgud also provided the voice for the uncredited role of the Ghost of Hamlet's Father in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version, but the voice was actually that of Olivier, electronically distorted. Gielgud did voice the Ghost in both the stage and film version of the Richard Burton Hamlet, which he directed in 1964, and in the 1970 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation starring Richard Chamberlain. Critic James Agate judged the 1944 Hamlet the best and that he had in this production, 'acquired an almost Irvingesque quality of pathos'. W.A Darlington, in the Telegraph, remarked that he was not so much a sensitive youth, 'aghast at the wickedness of the world, as a sophisticated man to whom wickedness was no surprise.'
Gielgud's crowning achievement, many believe, was Ages of Man, his one-man recital of Shakespearean excerpts which he performed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, winning a Tony Award for the Broadway production, a Grammy Award for his recording of the piece, and an Emmy Award for producer David Susskind for the 1966 telecast on CBS. Gielgud made his final Shakespearean appearance on stage in 1977 in the title role of John Schlesinger's production of Julius Caesar at the Royal National Theatre. He also made a recording of many of Shakespeare's sonnets in 1963. Among his non-Shakespearean Renaissance roles, his Ferdinand in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi was well-known.
Later stage work 
As he aged, Gielgud sought out distinctive new voices in the theatre, appearing in plays by Edward Albee (Tiny Alice), Alan Bennett (Forty Years On), Charles Wood (Veterans), Edward Bond (Bingo, in which Gielgud played William Shakespeare), David Storey (Home), and Harold Pinter (No Man's Land), the latter two in partnership with his old friend Ralph Richardson, but he drew the line at being offered the role of Hamm in Beckett's Endgame, saying that the play offered "nothing but loneliness and despair". It looked as though Gielgud would retire from the stage after appearing in Half Life at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1978, but he made a successful comeback in 1988 in Hugh Whitemore's play The Best of Friends as museum curator Sydney Cockerell.
Directing career 
Gielgud was almost as highly regarded for his work as a theatre director as for his acting, having staged his first production as a guest director of the Oxford University Dramatic Society production of Romeo and Juliet in 1932. The custom of OUDS at the time was to cast student undergraduates in the male roles and professional actresses in the female roles. Gielgud engaged Peggy Ashcroft as Juliet and Edith Evans as the nurse, who played the same roles three years later in his legendary production of the play at the New Theatre.
Gielgud quickly rose to the status of being one of the top directors for Binkie Beaumont's H.M. Tennent, Ltd. production company in London's West End Theatre and later on Broadway, his productions including Lady Windermere's Fan (1945), The Glass Menagerie (1948), The Heiress (1949), his own adaptation of The Cherry Orchard (1954), The Potting Shed (1958), Five Finger Exercise (1959), Peter Ustinov's comedy Half Way Up a Tree (1967), and Private Lives (1972). Gielgud won a Tony Award for his direction of Big Fish, Little Fish in 1961, the only time he won the award in a competitive category (having won honorary awards for "Best Foreign Company" for his 1947 production of The Importance of Being Earnest and for his one-man show Ages of Man). He also directed the operas The Trojans in 1957 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1960.
Gielgud directed other actors in many of the Shakespearean roles that he was famous for playing, notably Richard Burton as Hamlet (1964), Anthony Quayle as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (1950), and Paul Scofield as the title role in Richard II (1952). But Gielgud didn't always have the magic touch, staging a disappointing revival of Twelfth Night with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in 1955 and a disastrous production of Macbeth with Ralph Richardson in 1952.
But Gielgud was best known for directing productions in which he also starred, including his greatest commercial success Richard of Bordeaux (1933), his definitive production of The Importance of Being Earnest (1939, 1942, 1947), Medea with Judith Anderson's Tony Award-winning performance of the title role with Gielgud supporting her as Jason (1947), The Lady's Not for Burning (1949) that won Richard Burton his first notoriety as an actor, and Ivanov (1965). But many believed that his greatest successes were in Shakespearean productions in which he both directed and starred, especially Romeo and Juliet (1935), Richard II (1937, 1953), King Lear (1950, 1955), Much Ado About Nothing (1952, 1955, 1959) and his signature role of Hamlet (1934, 1939, 1945).
Gielgud's brother Val Gielgud became the head of BBC Radio Production in 1928, and John made his radio debut there the following year in a version of Pirandello's The Man With the Flower in His Mouth, which he was then performing at the Old Vic Theatre. In the ensuing years, John played many of his greatest stage roles on BBC Radio including Richard of Bordeaux, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest, and Hamlet, one production of which featured Emlyn Williams as Claudius, Celia Johnson as Ophelia, and Martita Hunt as Gertrude (the part she played in Gielgud's debut in the role at the Old Vic in 1930). He also played some Shakespearean roles which he never essayed on stage, such as Iago in a 1932 broadcast of Othello opposite Henry Ainley as the Moor, Buckingham (1954) and Cranmer (1977) in Henry VIII, and Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet for the first time when he was eighty-nine.
John Gielgud played Sherlock Holmes for BBC radio in the 1950s, with Ralph Richardson as Watson. Gielgud's brother, Val Gielgud, appeared in one of the episodes, perhaps inevitably, as the great detective's brother Mycroft. This series was co-produced by the American Broadcasting Company. Orson Welles appeared as Professor Moriarty in The Final Problem.
Gielgud gave one of his final radio performances in the title role of an All Star production of King Lear in 1994 that was mounted to celebrate his 90th birthday. The cast included Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, and Simon Russell Beale.
Although he began to appear in British films as early as 1924, making his debut in Who Is the Man? and appearing in the Edgar Wallace-based thriller The Clue of the New Pin (1929), he did not make an international impact in the medium until the last decades of his life. His early important film roles included Inigo Jollifant in Victor Saville's The Good Companions (1933), the lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Agent (1936), Benjamin Disraeli in The Prime Minister (1941), Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953) (BAFTA Award for Best British Actor), George, Duke of Clarence to Olivier's Richard III (1955), and Henry IV to Orson Welles' Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight (1966). A brief glimpse of his Hamlet from the gravediggers scene appears in the Humphrey Jennings short A Diary for Timothy (1945). But he lost his aversion to filming in the late 1960s, and by the 1980s and 1990s he was appearing in films so regularly that it was jokingly said that he was prepared to do almost anything for his art. He won an Academy Award for his supporting role as a sardonic butler in the 1981 comedy Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Providence (1977), and a BAFTA Award for Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and his performances in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), The Elephant Man (1981), and Shine (1996) were critically acclaimed. In 1980, he played the role of Nerva in the Penthouse-funded film Caligula. In 1991, Gielgud was able to satisfy his life's ambition by immortalising his Prospero on screen in Peter Greenaway's extremely offbeat version of The Tempest, a film called Prospero's Books in which Gielgud voiced every single character in the play.
Television also developed as one of the focal points of his career, with Gielgud giving a particularly notable performance in Brideshead Revisited (1981). He won an Emmy Award for Summer's Lease (1989) and televised his stage performances of A Day by the Sea (1957), Home (1970), No Man's Land (1976) and his final theatre role in The Best of Friends as Sydney Cockerell in the 1991 Masterpiece Theatre Production, along with Patrick McGoohan and Dame Wendy Hiller. In 1983, he made his second onscreen appearance with fellow theatrical knights Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson (following Olivier's own Richard III) in a television miniseries about composer Richard Wagner. In 1996 he played a wizard in the TV adaptation of Gulliver's Travels. Gielgud and Ralph Richardson were the first guest stars on Second City Television. Playing themselves, they were in Toronto during their tour of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land. According to Dave Thomas, in his book, SCTV: Behind the Scenes, their sketch was very poor and the actors gave bad performances. Gielgud's final television performance was on film in Merlin in 1998, his final television studio appearance having been in A Summer Day's Dream recorded in 1994 for the BBC 2 Performance series.
Gielgud was one of the few people who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony Award.
Gielgud's final onscreen appearance in a major release motion picture was as Pope Pius V in Elizabeth which was released in 1998. His final (silent) acting performance was in a film adaptation of Samuel Beckett's short play Catastrophe, opposite longtime collaborator Harold Pinter and directed by American playwright David Mamet; Gielgud died mere weeks after production was completed at the age of 96 of natural causes.
Personal life 
Gielgud, a homosexual, lived and worked in an era when there was a conspiracy of silence around homosexuality outside of theatrical circles. Shortly after he was knighted as a Knight Bachelor in 1953, Gielgud was convicted of "persistently importuning for immoral purposes" (cottaging) in a Chelsea mews, having been arrested for trying to pick up a man in a public lavatory. Deeply humiliated, Gielgud avoided Hollywood for over a decade for fear of being denied US entry because of the arrest. There was much discussion behind closed doors about whether his career could endure the ignominy, but he continued to rehearse the play in which he was scheduled to direct and act. Instead of being rejected by the public, he received a standing ovation at the play's initial opening in Liverpool, in part because of his co-star Sybil Thorndike; Thorndike seized him as he stood in the wings unable to bring himself to make his first entrance and brought him onstage, whispering "Come on, John darling, they won't boo me." Biographer Sheridan Morley writes that while Gielgud never denied being homosexual, he always tried to be discreet about it and felt humiliated by the ordeal. Some speculate that Gielgud's arrest helped to bring to public attention a crusade to decriminalise homosexuality in England and Wales.
Gielgud's long-standing professional relationship with producer Hugh "Binkie" Beaumont had its personal side as well. Gielgud's first significant lover, playwright John Perry, left Gielgud for Beaumont. Later, Perry went on to partner Beaumont in the H. M. Tennent organisation, within which Gielgud continued to work. Beaumont, himself closeted outside the theatrical community, was a very powerful producer who oversaw a great deal of high-profile and artistically ambitious work. He stood behind Gielgud during the 1953 scandal, and, with Perry, took the risk of backing Gielgud's Queen's Theatre season. However, Morley's biography states: "Binkie...was..to keep him.....on such an extremely tight salary that it wasn't until Gielgud first escaped to Hollywood in 1953 that he began to earn the kind of money that Olivier and Richardson and Redgrave had earned for decades."
In the same biography, Keith Baxter remarks on Gielgud's private life: "...the theatre was always much more important to John G. than any private relationship..."
Longtime partner Martin Hensler died in December 1998, 16 months before Gielgud's own death in 2000. He publicly acknowledged Hensler as his lover only in 1988, in the programme notes for The Best of Friends, which was his final stage performance. Sir John gave the opening address at the Queen Mother's 90th Birthday Celebration Gala at the London Palladium in 1990, referring to a glittering array of stars and personalities assembled saying that because of the love and affection in which she was held they were laying at her feet, this rather large Birthday present, which provoked tremendous approval. He also read from Alan Bennett's Forty Years On, in which he had appeared in earlier years.
Laurence Olivier's friendship with Gielgud was peppered with barely concealed competitive tension, for, while Olivier's fame as an actor eventually eclipsed Gielgud's, Gielgud had been the great Shakespearean actor when Olivier was just coming up, and that was hard for Olivier to forget. Gielgud maintained a very close relationship with Olivier's second wife, Vivien Leigh, throughout their marriage, divorce, and her long struggle with manic depression. In Curtain (1991), Michael Korda's novel based on the marriage of Olivier and Leigh, Gielgud becomes Philip Chagrin.
Death and estate 
John Gielgud died of a respiratory infection and was cremated at Oxford Crematorium. He left an estate of approximately £1.5 million, making bequests to RADA, The Actors' Charitable Trust, the King George V Fund for Actors and Actresses and Denville Hall home for actors. He left some of his theatre archive to the Garrick Club. One year after his death, the executors of his estate decided to donate the archive of his papers to the British Library. The collection includes such items as photographs, scrap books, theatre programmes, and letters to his family, Siegfried Sassoon, and Alec Guinness.
Sir John Gielgud believed that animals should not be exploited. He was particularly fond of birds and joined PETA's campaign against the foie gras industry in the early 1990s, narrating PETA's video exposé of the force-feeding of geese and ducks. Sir John received PETA's Humanitarian of the Year Award twice, in 1994 and 1999.
He also authored several books, including his memoirs in An Actor and His Time, Early Stages and Distinguished Company. He also co-wrote, with John Miller, Acting Shakespeare.
In culture 
In the satirical puppet comedy Spitting Image, Gielgud was regularly shown in a short segment where he poetically read a nursery rhyme or other short stanza and then fell asleep immediately afterward.
The 'Gielgud case' of 1953 was dramatised by critic turned playwright Nicholas de Jongh in the play Plague Over England and performed at the Finborough, a small London theatre, in 2008, with Jasper Britton as Gielgud. In 2009 the play was presented for a limited run at the Duchess Theatre, in London's West End, with Michael Feast (who had worked with Gielgud) in the main role.
Awards and honours 
- He was knighted in the 1953 coronation honours, became a Companion of Honour in 1977, and was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1996.
- The National Portrait Gallery, London commissioned artist David Remfry to paint a portrait of Sir John for the collection in 1980, which now holds 112 likenesses of Gielgud in its collections.
- The Globe Theatre in London was renamed the Gielgud Theatre in 1994 in his honour.
- 1985: Special Award
- 1964: Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, for Becket
- 1981: Winner for Best Supporting Actor, for Arthur
- 1966: Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Program, for Gielgud's Ages of Man
- 1982: Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special, for Brideshead Revisited
- 1984: Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special, for The Master of Ballantrae
- 1985: Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special, for Romance on the Orient Express
- 1989: Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a miniseries or Special, for War and Remembrance
- 1991: Winner for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, for Summer's Lease
- 1948: Winner for Outstanding Foreign Company, The Importance of Being Earnest
- 1959: Winner, Special Award, for contribution to theatre for his extraordinary insight into the writings of Shakespeare as demonstrated in his one-man show, Ages of Man
- 1961: Winner for Best Director (Dramatic), for Big Fish, Little Fish, a play by Hugh Wheeler
- 1963: Nominated for Best Director (Dramatic), for The School for Scandal
- 1965: Nominated for Best Actor (Dramatic), for Tiny Alice
- 1971: Nominated for Best Actor (Dramatic), for Home
- 1970 Co-winner for Best Actor for Home (with Ralph Richardson)
- 1975 Winner for Best Actor for No Man's Land
- 1982 Winner, Special Award for Lifetime Achievement
- 1959: Nominated for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording, for Ages of Man
- 1964: Nominated for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording, for Hamlet with Richard Burton, Hume Cronyn, Alfred Drake, George Voskovec, Eileen Herlie, William Redfield and George Rose
- 1964: Nominated for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording, for Ages of Man, Volume 2 (One Man in His Time) Part Two - Shakespeare
- 1979: Winner for Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording, for Ages of Man - Recordings from Shakespeare
- 1982: Nominated for Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording, for No Man's Land with Ralph Richardson
- 1983: Nominated for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording, for Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats with Irene Worth
- 1986: Nominated for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording, for Gulliver
- 1988: Nominated for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording, for A Christmas Carol
- 1989: Nominated for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording, for Sir John Gielgud Reads Alice in Wonderland
- 1991: Nominated for Best Album for Children, for The Emperor's New Clothes with Mark Isham
- 1981: Winner for Best Supporting Actor, for Arthur
- 1988: Winner for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for War and Remembrance
- 1989: Nominated for Best Actor in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for War and Remembrance
There is also the Sir John Gielgud Award for "Excellence in the Dramatic Arts" presented by the US-based Shakespeare Guild. Past winners include Ian McKellen, Kenneth Branagh, Glen Joseph, Kevin Kline and Judi Dench
Selected filmography 
- Who Is the Man? (1924)
- The Clue of the New Pin (1929)
- Insult (1932)
- The Good Companions (1933)
- Secret Agent (1936)
- The Prime Minister (1941)
- Julius Caesar (1953)
- Richard III (1955)
- Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
- Saint Joan (1957)
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957)
- The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963)
- Becket (1964)
- Hamlet (1964)
- Chimes at Midnight (1965)
- The Loved One (1965)
- Sebastian (1968)
- The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
- Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
- Julius Caesar (1970)
- Eagle in a Cage (1972)
- Lost Horizon (1973)
- Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)
- 11 Harrowhouse (1974)
- Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
- Gold (1974)
- Aces High (1976)
- The Picture Of Dorian Gray (1976)
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1977)
- Providence (1977)
- Caligula (1979)
- The Human Factor (1979)
- The Orchestra Conductor (1980)
- The Elephant Man (1980)
- The Formula (1980)
- Lion of the Desert (1981)
- Arthur (1981)
- Chariots of Fire (1981)
- Gandhi (1982)
- Wagner (1983)
- The Wicked Lady (1983)
- The Scarlet and The Black (1983)
- The Master of Ballantrae (1984)
- The Far Pavilions (1984)
- The Shooting Party (1985)
- Plenty (1985)
- The Canterville Ghost (1986)
- Time After Time (1986)
- The Whistle Blower (1986)
- Appointment with Death (1988)
- War and Remembrance (1988)
- Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
- Getting it Right (1989)
- Prospero's Books (1991)
- Shining Through (1992)
- Swan Song (1992)
- The Power of One (1992)
- Scarlett (1994)
- First Knight (1995)
- Haunted (1995)
- The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
- Hamlet (1996)
- Shine (1996)
- Merlin (1998)
- Elizabeth (1998)
- Quest for Camelot (1998)
- Catastrophe (2000)
- An Actor and His Time
- Early Stages
- Distinguished Company
- Acting Shakespeare (with John Miller)
See also 
- List of people who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards
- Terry family
- The Gielgud Theatre, formerly the Hicks Theatre, renamed in Gielgud's honour in 1994.
- Robertson, Nan. "A Reticent Alec Guinness Awaits a Movie Tribute;" The New York Times, 27 April 1987. Retrieved 22 May 2008.
- Clarke, Gerald. "Alec Guinness Takes Off His Masks;" Time, 17 March 1986. Retrieved 22 May 2008.
- Ronald Hayman, John Gielgud, p.2 'His [Frank Gielgud's] grandmother, Aniela Aszpergerowa, had been a well known Lithuanian actress, and on the banks of the river Memel, in Lithuania, there was a castle, Zamek Gielguda, which belonged to the Counts Gielgud until the revolution of 1831.'
- "The Gielgud-Terry Family Tree", Gielgud, John and John Miller. An Actor and His Time, p. 180, Legends Series, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000 ISBN 1-55783-415-6
- Croall, Jonathan. "Gielgud: A Theatrical Life", The New York Times, 12 August 2001, accessed 9 March 2012
- Gielgud, Ronald Hayman, p.13, Heinemann, 1971
- Ronald Hayman, p.18
- Ronald Hayman, p.37
- Ronald Hayman, p.46
- Hayman, p.33
- Hayman, p.64
- (Croall 2002)
- Hayman, p.74
- Ronald Hayman, p.108
- V & A Museum, Notable Productions
- Hayman, p.122
- Hayman, p.134
- Hayman, p.154
- (Morley 2002, p. 311)
- (Croall 2002, p. 179)
- (Croall 2002, p. 180)
- Sir John Gielgud: A Life in Letters, Arcade Publishing (2004).
- "International Movie Database (A Summer's Day Dream)". Retrieved 28 February 2009.
- "Fine For "Persistently Importuning"". The Times (UK). 22 October 1953. p. 5.
- Munn, Michael (1 October 2007), Lord Larry: the secret life of Laurence Olivier : a personal and intimate portrait, Anova Books, p. 165, ISBN 978-1-86105-977-2
- Koenig, Rhoda (28 February 2008). "John Gielgud: When England hounded a hero". The Independent (UK: The Independent). Retrieved 7 August 2010. "The fuss contributed to the Wolfenden Commission, set up the following year to study prostitution, taking on homosexuality as well. Its recommendations eventually led to decriminalisation."
- Roberts, Glenys (20 March 2008). "How a moment of madness by Britain's greatest actor drove him to the brink of suicide - and forever changed attitudes to sex". Daily Mail (UK: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 7 August 2010. "Yet, ironically, the publicity surrounding Gielgud's arrest was one of the impetuses behind changes in the law over homosexuality. The Wolfenden Commission, set up to study prostitution, broadened its scope to include homosexuality."
- Sheridan Morley: John Gielgud: The Authorized Biography (London, 2002), p.23
- Rich, Frank (12 February 1988). "Stage: John Gielgud Stars in London Play". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2006.
- "Gielgud, 83, comes out", Gay Times (Millivres) (114), March 1988, ISSN 0950-6101.
- John Gielgud: Matinee Idol to Movie Star (2011) Jonathan Croall A&C Black, p670 ISBN 9781408131077
- British Library Gieldgud archive
- "Letters reveal private life of theatrical knight", The Observer, 27 May 2001
- Peta foie gras. The Observer Magazine. 22 June 2003.
- Hastings, Chris (2 July 2000). "Gielgud revealed as secret donor to gay rights campaigners". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- Croall, Jonathan (12 April 2002), Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000, Continuum, p. 608, ISBN 978-0-8264-1403-8
- Gielgud, John; Mangan, Richard (1994), John Gielgud's notes from the gods : playgoing in the twenties, Nick Hern, ISBN 978-1-85459-105-0
- Gielgud, John; Mangan, Richard (2004-04), in Richard Mangan, Sir John Gielgud: a life in letters, Arcade Publishing, p. 598, ISBN 978-1-55970-729-9
- Morley, Sheridan (2002), John Gielgud: the Authorised Biography, Simon & Schuster, p. 528, ISBN 978-0-7432-2242-6
- Young, Jordan R. (1989), Acting solo: the art of one-man shows, Moonstone Press, p. 224, ISBN 978-0-940410-85-5
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: John Gielgud|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: John Gielgud|
- John Gielgud at the Internet Broadway Database
- John Gielgud at the Internet Movie Database
- John Gielgud at the TCM Movie Database
- John Gielgud at the British Film Institute's Screenonline