Price as Jeeves
|Born||Dennistoun Franklyn John Rose-Price
23 June 1915
Twyford, Berkshire, England, UK
|Died||6 October 1973
Guernsey, Channel Islands He was buried on Sark.
|Spouse(s)||Joan Schofield (1939-50) (divorced) 2 children|
Dennis Price (born Dennistoun Franklyn John Rose Price, 23 June 1915 – 6 October 1973) was an English actor, best remembered for his role as Louis Mazzini in the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and for his portrayal of the omniscient valet Jeeves in 1960s television adaptations of P. G. Wodehouse's stories.
Price was born Dennistoun Franklyn John Rose-Price in Twyford in Berkshire, the son of Brigadier-General Thomas Rose Caradoc Price CMG DSO and his wife Dorothy, née Verey, daughter of Sir Henry Verey, Official Referee of the Supreme Court of Judicature. He attended Copthorne Prep School, Radley College and Worcester College, Oxford. He studied acting at the Embassy Theatre School of Acting.
Price made his first appearance on stage at the Croydon Repertory Theatre in June 1937, followed by a London debut at the Queen's Theatre on 6 September 1937 in Richard II. He served in the Royal Artillery from March 1940 to June 1942 during World War II but quickly returned to acting after discharge, appearing with Noël Coward in This Happy Breed and Present Laughter and later as Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit, which he later named in Who's Who in the Theatre as one of his two favourite parts along with the title role in André Obey's Noah.
His first film role was in A Canterbury Tale (1944). According to Brian MacFarlane, Price was "mercilessly used by Gainsborough [Pictures] in one unsuitable role after another" in this period. The high point of his film career was as the suave serial murderer Louis Mazzini in the Ealing Comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).
Dennis Price was a guest Judge on a BBC radio broadcast of the Piddingtons show in 1949. His role was to represent the eyes of listeners as the Piddingtons performed their telepathy act in the Piccadilly studios, and in the Tower of London. He was ensuring that no cheating was going on and overseeing the telepathy tests as a witness.
In the 1950s, Price appeared in London and New York in new plays and revivals of classics. It has been suggested that he was the first name actor on television to play a "more or less overtly gay role" in Crime on Our Hands (1954). In 1957 he made his debut in South Africa in lead roles in Separate Tables.
As a broadcaster, Price was the original "No. 1" in charge of the crew of HMS Troutbridge in the first series of the long-running radio comedy series The Navy Lark in 1959, but was unable to continue the role in the second series because of other work commitments; he was replaced by Stephen Murray. His film appearances from this period included Tunes of Glory (1960) and The Amorous Prawn (aka The Playgirl and the War Minister, 1962).
In the BBC television series The World of Wooster (1965–67), Price's performance as Jeeves was described by The Times as "an outstanding success". Working with Ian Carmichael as Bertie Wooster, this now almost completely lost series was based on the novels and short stories of P.G. Wodehouse. He also appeared in Series 6, Episode 9 of The Avengers.
In 1967, Price was declared bankrupt; he attributed his financial distress to "extravagant living and most inadequate gambling". He then moved to the tax haven island of Sark, which coincided with an escalation in his alcoholism. Towards the end of his life, Price appeared in a series of horror films such as Twins of Evil (1971), Horror Hospital (1973) and Theatre of Blood (1973), including five movies directed by Jesús Franco. One of his last film appearances was a star-studded version of Alice in Wonderland (1972) with Ralph Richardson, Robert Helpmann, Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore, among others. On television he had recurring roles in the ITC series Jason King (1971) and The Adventurer (1972).
In the book British Film Character Actors (1982), Terence Pettigrew wrote that Price's most successful screen characterisations were "refined, self-centred, caddish and contemptuous of a world inhabited by inferiors. Everything about him was deceptive. He could be penniless and still manage to look as if he owned the bank. But behind all that grand talk and lordly ways, there skulked, in his characters, the most ordinary of shabby, grasping souls."
Price was married to the actress Joan Schofield from 1939 to 1950. They had two daughters. Price was homosexual and the marriage was an attempt to lead a 'conventional' life, since homosexual activity was a criminal offence in England and Wales until 1967. In April 1954 he tried to commit suicide by gas in a London guest house. Public sympathy led to a resurgence in his popularity and the offer of film roles.
However, his private life, which included heavy gambling and an increasing reliance upon alcohol, began to affect his health, looks and career. Price's private anguish may have led to his role in the film Victim (1961), controversial at the time, which portrayed the dilemma faced by a group of gay men who were being blackmailed for their sexuality.
- Nana (1926) as Le jockey de 'Nana'
- No Parking (1938) as Extra (uncredited)
- A Canterbury Tale (1944) as Peter Gibbs
- A Place of One's Own (1945) as Dr. Selbie
- The Echo Murders (1945) as Dick Warren
- Caravan (1946) as Sir Francis Castleton
- The Magic Bow (1946) as Paul de la Rochelle
- Hungry Hill (1947) as Greyhound John
- Dear Murderer (1947) as Richard Fenton
- Holiday Camp (1947) as Sq. Ldr. Hardwick
- Jassy (1947) as Christopher Hatton
- Master of Bankdam (1947) as Joshua Crowther
- The White Unicorn (1947) as Richard Glover
- Easy Money (1948) as Joe Henty
- Snowbound (1948) as Neil Blair
- Good-Time Girl (1948) as Michael 'Red' Farrell
- The Bad Lord Byron (1949) as Lord Byron
- Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) as Louis / Louis's father
- Helter Skelter (1949) as Lord Byron (uncredited)
- The Lost People (1949) as Ridley
- The Dancing Years (1950) as Rudi Kleiber
- Murder Without Crime (1950) as Matthew, Stephen's Landlord
- The Adventurers (1951) as Clive Hunter
- I'll Never Forget You (1951) as Tom Pettigrew
- Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951) as Simon Abott
- The Magic Box (1951) as Harold
- Song of Paris (1952) as Matthew Ibbetson
- The Tall Headlines (1952) as Maurice Fletcher
- Noose for a Lady (1953) as Simon Gale
- Murder at 3am (1953) as Inspector Peter Lawton
- The Intruder (1953) as Leonard Pirry
- Time Is My Enemy (1954) as Martin Radley
- For Better, for Worse (1954) as Debenham
- That Lady (1955) as Mateo Vasquez
- Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955) as Maj. Frank
- Private's Progress (1956) as Brig. Bertram Tracepurcel
- Charley Moon (1956) as Harold Armytage
- Port Afrique (1956) as Robert Blackton
- A Touch of the Sun (1956) as Digby Hatchard
- Fortune Is a Woman (1957) as Tracey Moreton
- The Naked Truth (1957) as Nigel Dennis
- Danger Within (1959) as Capt. Rupert Callender
- I'm All Right Jack (1959) as Bertram Tracepurcel
- Don't Panic Chaps! (1959) as Krisling
- School for Scoundrels (1960) as Dunstan
- Oscar Wilde (1960) as Robert Ross
- Tunes of Glory (1960) as Major Charles Scott, M.C.
- Piccadilly Third Stop (1960) as Edward
- The Millionairess (1960) as Dr. Adrian Bland
- The Pure Hell of St Trinian's (1960) as Gore Blackwood
- Five Golden Hours (1961) as Raphael
- No Love for Johnnie (1961) as Flagg
- The Rebel (1961) as Jim Smith
- Double Bunk (1961) as Watson
- Watch it, Sailor! (1961) as Lt. Cmdr Hardcastle
- Victim (1961) as Calloway
- What a Carve Up! (1961) as Guy Broughton
- Play It Cool (1962) as Sir Charles Bryant
- The Pot Carriers (1962) as Smooth Tongue
- Go to Blazes (1962) as Withers
- Behave Yourself (1962)
- Kill or Cure (1962) as Dr. Julian Crossley
- The Amorous Prawn (1962) as Prawn (Mr. Vernon)
- The Cool Mikado (1963) as Ronald Fortescue
- The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963) as Educated Ernest (uncredited)
- The V.I.P.s (1963) as Cmdr. Millbank
- The Cracksman (1963) as Grantley
- Doctor in Distress (1963) as Dr. Blacker
- Tamahine (1963) as Charles Poole
- Murder Most Foul (1964) as Harris Tumbrill
- A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964) as Dr. John Hughes
- The Horror of It All (1964) as Cornwallis Marley
- The Comedy Man (1964) as Tommy Morris
- The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) as Quinn Taggart
- Curse of the Voodoo (1965) as Maj. Lomas
- A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) as Mathias
- Ten Little Indians (1965) as Dr. Armstrong
- Just like a Woman (1967) as Bathroom Salesman
- Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967) as The Duke of Barset
- The Haunted House of Horror (1969) as Inspector Bill Bradley
- Venus in Furs (1969) as Percival Kapp
- The Magic Christian (1969) as Winthrop
- Some Will, Some Won't (1970) as Benson
- The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) as The Graverobber
- The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) as Fairburn
- Vampyros Lesbos (1971) as Dr. Alwin Seward
- Twins of Evil (1971) as Dietrich
- Tower of Evil (1972) as Bakewell
- Pulp (1972) as The Englishman
- The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) as Mr. Gort
- Drácula vs Frankenstein (1972) as Doctor Frankenstein
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972) as King of Hearts
- That's Your Funeral (1972) as Eugene Soul
- Go for a Take (1972) as Dracula, actor
- Theatre of Blood (1973) as Hector Snipe
- Horror Hospital (1973) as Mr. Pollack
- La maldición de Frankenstein (1973) as Doctor Frankenstein
- Quartier de femmes (1974) as L'avocat Linsday
- Son of Dracula (1974) as Van Helsing (Last appearance)
- The Times, 25 October 1949, p. 1
- "Mr Dennis Price - An actor of style", The Times, 8 October 1973, p. 19
- Gaye, p. 1076
- "Dennis Price".
- Brian MacFarlane "Price, Dennis (1915-1973)", BFI screenonline, reprinted from MacFarlane (ed.) Encyclopaedia of British Cinema, London: Methuen/BFI, 2003, p.534
- "Britten's 'Rape of Lucretia': New York Divided", The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 31 Dec 1948, p.8
- "FILM NEWS". Western Star (6295). Queensland, Australia. 4 February 1949. p. 6. Retrieved 24 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Keith Howes "Are There Stars Out Tonight" in Robin Griffiths (ed) British Queer Cinema, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2006, p.61-70, 63
- "(P. G. Wodehouse's) The World of Wooster", lostshows.com See also Michael Brooke "World of Wooster, The (1965-67)", BFI screenonline
- The Guardian, 8 October 1973, p. 6
- "Alice in Studioland", The Guardian, 10 June 1972, p. 8
- Terence Pettigrew British Film Character Actors: Great Names and Memorable Moments, Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles, 1982, p.165-66
- The Manchester Guardian, 20 April 1954, p. 12
- Gaye, Freda (ed). Who's Who in the Theatre, Fourteenth edition. Pitman Publishing, London, 1967
- Huntley, Elliot J. Dennis Price - A Tribute: The Life and Death of Dennis Price. Pickard Communication, 2008