from the trailer for Topper Takes a Trip (1939)
|Born||Alfred Ernest Allen
18 August 1896
|Died||25 March 1969
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Lorraine Carpenter (1927-69) (his death)|
Born Alfred Ernest Allen in London, England, he served with distinction in the British Army in the First World War, being awarded the Military Medal for bravery. He began his stage career in London in 1922, as an actor and stage manager. Mowbray applied for transfer to the Royal Air Force which was granted just six days before the war ended. This placed him in London on Armistice Day. His service came to an end when the Royal Air Force wanted another seven years out of him. In 1923 he arrived in the United States and was soon acting with New York stock companies. He debuted on Broadway in The Sport of Kings (1926); in 1929 he wrote, directed and starred in the unsuccessful Dinner is Served.
Mowbray made his film debut in God's Gift to Women (1931) playing a butler, a role in which he was thereafter often cast. He appeared in five more pictures that year, notably portraying George Washington in Alexander Hamilton. In 1935 he played one of the male leads in Becky Sharp, the first feature-length film in full-color Technicolor, as well as playing the lead in the farcical Night Life of the Gods, based on a Thorne Smith novel. It was for another Thorne Smith–derived film, Topper (1937), that Mowbray may be best remembered; he played Topper's butler, Wilkins, a role he reprised the following year in Topper Takes a Trip. Throughout the 1930s and '40s Mowbray worked steadily, appearing in over 120 films.
In the 1950s Mowbray's film roles decreased and he began to appear on television. He played the title role in the DuMont TV series Colonel Humphrey Flack, which first aired in 1953–54 and was revived in 1958–59. In the 1954–55 television season Mowbray played Mr. Swift, the drama coach of the character Mickey Mulligan, in NBC's short-lived situation comedy The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan. He continued to appear occasionally in films.
In 1956 he appeared in three major films, The King and I, The Man Who Knew Too Much and was one of the many stars to make a cameo appearance in Around the World in 80 Days. His final film role was as Captain Norcross in A Majority of One in 1961. In 1963 he returned to Broadway in the successful comedy Enter Laughing, playing David Kolowitz's unscrupulous mentor Marlowe (played by Alan Arkin).
Raymond Chandler on Mowbray
"The Philip Courtney Prendergast's (sic) lived on one of those wide, curving streets where the houses seem to be too close together for their size and the amount of money they represent... the house had an English slate roof and a porte-cochère, some nice imported trees, a trellis with a bougainvillea. It was a nice place and not loud. But Beverly Hills is Beverly Hills, so the butler had wing collar and an accent like Alan Mowbray.”
- God's Gift to Women (1931)
- The Man in Possession (1931)
- Guilty Hands (1931)
- Alexander Hamilton (1931)
- Honor of the Family (1931)
- The Man from Yesterday (1932)
- Winner Take All (1932)
- Jewel Robbery (1932)
- The Man Called Back (1932)
- Sherlock Holmes (1932)
- Two Against the World (1932)
- Our Betters (1933)
- A Study in Scarlet (1933)
- Peg o' My Heart (1933)
- The Midnight Club (1933)
- Voltaire (1933)
- Berkeley Square (1933)
- Roman Scandals (1933)
- The House of Rothschild (1934)
- The Girl from Missouri (1934)
- Charlie Chan in London (1934)
- Becky Sharp (1935)
- The Gay Deception (1935)
- She Couldn't Take It (1935)
- Rose-Marie (1936)
- Desire (1936)
- Mary of Scotland (1936)
- My Man Godfrey (1936)
- Ladies in Love (1936)
- On the Avenue (1937)
- Marry the Girl (1937)
- The King and the Chorus Girl (1937)
- Topper (1937)
- Stand-In (1937)
- Merrily We Live (1938)
- There Goes My Heart (1938)
- Topper Takes a Trip (1939)
- Music in My Heart (1940)
- Curtain Call (1940)
- The Boys from Syracuse (1940)
- The Villain Still Pursued Her (1940)
- That Hamilton Woman (1941)
- That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
- I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
- Moon Over Her Shoulder (1941)
- The Devil with Hitler (1942)
- The Mad Martindales (1942)
- His Butler's Sister (1943)
- Slightly Dangerous (1943)
- Holy Matrimony (1943)
- The Doughgirls (1944)
- Terror by Night (1946)
- My Darling Clementine (1946)
- Lured (1947)
- Captain from Castile (1947)
- The Pilgrim Lady (1947)
- Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)
- The Lovable Cheat (1949)
- Wagon Master (1950)
- The Jackpot (1950)
- Blackbeard the Pirate (1952)
- Androcles and the Lion (1952)
- Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954)
- Once Upon a Honeymoon (1956) (short)
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- The King and I (1956)
- Around the World in 80 Days (1956) as the British consul at Suez
- A Majority of One (1962)
- The Patty Duke Show, as director of the high school play in which both Patty and Cathy appeared
- Four Star Playhouse in Dick Powell's episode "The House Always Wins" (1955)
- Whispering Smith, in "Poet and Peasant Case" episode (1960)
- Maverick, in "The Misfortune Teller" episode as Luke Abigor (1960)
- Wearing, J.P. (2014). The London Stage 1920–1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 190–200. ISBN 978-0-8108-9302-3.
- Moreno, Barry (2008). Ellis Island's Famous Immigrants. Arcadia. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-4396-2003-8.
- Mank, Gregory W. (2007). Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the "Bundy Drive" Boys. Feral House. pp. 152–53. ISBN 978-1-932595-24-6.
- Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 531–32. ISBN 978-1-55783-551-2.
- Alan Mowbray at the Internet Movie Database
- Prindle, David F. (2012). The Politics of Glamour: Ideology and Democracy in the Screen Actors Guild. Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-299-11813-6.
- Sentance, P. David (2006). Cricket in America, 1710–2000. McFarland. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-7864-2040-7.
- "Masquers Club". SAG–AFTRA. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- Dean, Paul (25 April 1985). "Unmasking Masquers: End of a Landmark?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous. Globe Pequot. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-7627-4101-4.
- Chandler, Raymond T. 1937. 'Mandarin's Jade' originally published in Dime Detective Magazine, November, 1937. Republished in Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories. 2002. Everyman's Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, p. 667.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alan Mowbray.|
- Alan Mowbray at the Internet Movie Database
- Alan Mowbray at the Internet Broadway Database
- Alan Mowbray at AllMovie
- The Adventures of Colonel Flack
- "Alan Mowbray". Find a Grave. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
- "Up From Central Park: Scenes From an Actor's Life", book review of Mowbray's memoirs at Immortal Ephemera, including excerpts; accessed 6 November 2015.