Felix Aylmer

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Sir Felix Aylmer
Felix Aylmer.jpg
Felix Aylmer, 1938
Born Felix Edward Aylmer Jones
(1889-02-21)21 February 1889
Corsham, Wiltshire, England
Died 2 September 1979(1979-09-02) (aged 90)
Surrey, England
Years active 1930–68
Spouse(s) Cecily Byrne (1915-75; 2 children)

Sir Felix Edward Aylmer Jones, OBE (21 February 1889 – 2 September 1979) was an English stage actor who also appeared in the cinema and on television. Aylmer made appearances in films with comedians such as Will Hay and George Formby.

Life and career[edit]

Portrait of Sir Felix Aylmer in his garden in 1973 by Allan Warren

Felix Aylmer was born in Corsham, Wiltshire, the son of Lilian (Cookworthy) and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Aylmer Jones.[1][2] He was educated at King James's Grammar School, Almondbury, near Huddersfield, where he was a boarder from 1897 to 1900,[3] Magdalen College School, and Exeter College, Oxford, where he was a member of Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS).[2] He trained under the Victorian-era actress and director Rosina Filippi before securing his first professional engagement at the London Coliseum in 1911.[2]

He acted with Sir Laurence Olivier in Shakespearean films, appearing as Polonius in Hamlet (1948), and often played wise old men, such as Merlin in Knights of the Round Table (1953). He played the Archbishop of Canterbury in the film adaptation of Becket (1964), with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole and gave elocution lessons to the young Audrey Hepburn.

His memorable style of delivery—dignified and learned—[4] was frequently mimicked by comedians such as Peter Sellers and Kenneth Williams. Indeed, as dramatist and barrister John Mortimer noted, the mannerisms Aylmer brought to bear in his roles came to be imitated in the real-life performances of judges on the bench.[5] Williams observed that an impersonation of Aylmer was a speciality of a colleague during his days with ENSA, the Armed Forces Entertainment Association, but he was certain that none of the troops knew who was being impersonated.

Aylmer was President of Equity from 1950 to 1969. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire[6] in the 1950 King's Birthday Honours and knighted[7][8] in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours.

At the age of 80 Felix Aylmer played a villain in an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) entitled "It's Supposed to be Thicker than Water". His last major screen role was as the Abbot in the sitcom Oh, Brother!, opposite Derek Nimmo (1968–70). Aylmer died in a nursing home in Pyrford, Surrey in 1979.

One of his younger siblings was Air Chief Marshal Sir John Whitworth-Jones.[9]



  • Dickens Incognito (1959)
  • The Drood Case (1964)


  1. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page 14172". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2012-06-09. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c Nimmo, Derek (2004). "‘Aylmer, Sir Felix (1889–1979)’". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30776. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Hinchliffe, Gerald (1963). A history of the King James's Grammar School in Almondbury. Huddersfield: Advertiser Press. p. 234. 
  4. ^ Darlington, William A. (4 February 1979). "Sir Felix Aylmer, distinguished actor". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  5. ^ Mortimer, John (24 January 2001). "Dodgy wigs, extravagant costumes, over-the-top speeches? You'd never get away with that on stage". The Guardian. p. G2–14. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38929. pp. 2786–2786. 2 June 1950. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43667. p. 5471. 4 June 1965. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 43720. p. 7029. 23 July 1965. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  9. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page 14172". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2012-06-09. [unreliable source?]

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