David Tomlinson

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For other people named David Tomlinson, see David Tomlinson (disambiguation).
David Tomlinson
Mary Poppins4.jpg
Tomlinson in Mary Poppins, 1964
Born David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson
(1917-05-07)7 May 1917
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England
Died 24 June 2000(2000-06-24) (aged 83)
Westminster, London, England
Cause of death Stroke[1]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940–1980
Notable work George Banks in Mary Poppins,
Spouse(s) Mary Lindsay Hiddingh
(m. September 1943 – 2 December 1943; her death)
Audrey Freeman
(m. 17 May 1953 – 24 June 2000; his death)
Children David Tomlinson Jr
William Tomlinson
Henry Tomlinson
James Tomlinson

David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson (7 May 1917 – 24 June 2000) was an English stage, film and television actor and comedian. Having been described as both a leading man and a character actor, he is primarily remembered for his roles as authority figure George Banks in Mary Poppins, fraudulent magician Professor Emelius Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and as hapless antagonist Peter Thorndyke in The Love Bug. In 2002, two years after his death, Tomlinson was posthumously inducted as a Disney Legend.

Early life[edit]

Tomlinson was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 7 May 1917,[2] to Florence Elizabeth Tomlinson (nee Sinclair-Thomsona) (1890-1968) and a well-respected London solicitor father Clarence Tomlinson (1883-1978).[3] He attended Tonbridge School and left to join the Grenadier Guards for 16 months.[3] His father then secured him a job as a clerk at Shell Mex House.

His stage career grew from amateur stage productions to his 1940 film debut in Quiet Wedding. His career was interrupted when he entered Second World War service as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. During the war, he served as a flight instructor in Canada and made three films.[3] His flying days continued after the war and he crashed a Tiger Moth plane near his back garden after he lost consciousness while flying.

Film career[edit]

David Tomlinson was known to generations of children for his role as George Banks, head of the Banks family, in the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins brought Tomlinson continued work with Disney, asking him to appear in The Love Bug (1968) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Throughout the rest of Tomlinson's film career, he never steered far from comedies. His final acting appearance was in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), which was also the final film of Peter Sellers, who died shortly prior to its release. Tomlinson retired from acting at age 63 to spend more time with his family, however, the enduring popularity of Mary Poppins ensuring that he remained well-known.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

Tomlinson was first married to Mary Lindsay Hiddingh, daughter of L. Seton Lindsay, the vice president of the New York Life Insurance Company. She had been widowed in 1941 when her husband, Major A.G. Hiddingh, was killed in action, leaving her to care for their two young sons. Tomlinson married Mary in September 1943. She committed suicide on 2 December 1943, when she jumped from a hotel in New York City, while holding her sons' (his stepsons') hands.[5]

Tomlinson's second wife was actress Audrey Freeman (12 December 1928 - 1 February 2010), whom he married on 17 May 1953, and the couple remained together for 47 years until his death. They had four sons: David Jr. (born 1963), William (born 1954), Henry (born 1960) and James (born 1956).[6]

Tomlinson died peacefully in his sleep at King Edward VII's Hospital, Westminster, at 4 a.m. on 24 June 2000, after suffering from a sudden stroke.[7][8] He was 83 years old. He was interred at his estate grounds in Mursley, Buckinghamshire.




  1. ^ "BBC News - UK - Mary Poppins star dies". 
  2. ^ General Register Office of England and Wales – Birth Register for June Quarter of 1917, Henley Registration District, reference 3a 1531, listed as David C.M. Tomlinson, mother's maiden name as Sinclair-Thomson
  3. ^ a b c "David Tomlinson". Telegraph.co.uk. 26 June 2000. 
  4. ^ "Whatever happened to the cast of Mary Poppins?". www.thetelegraph.com. The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  5. ^ Mary Lindsay Hiddingh Tomlinson, Find A Grave (online), accessed 19 November 2014
  6. ^ "Mary Poppins star dies", BBC News (online), accessed 27 October 2013
  7. ^ General Register Office of England and Wales – Death Register for June 2000, Westminster Registration District, reference C49C 281, listed as David Cecil Tomlinson with a date of birth of 7 May 1917
  8. ^ "Mary Poppins Star Dies". BBC News. BBC. 24 June 2000. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Luckier Than Most, Tomlinson's autobiography, published in 1990.

External links[edit]