Felix Aylmer

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Sir Felix Aylmer OBE
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 1911–68
Spouse(s) Cecily Byrne (1915-75; 2 children)

Sir Felix Edward Aylmer Jones, OBE (21 February 1889 – 2 September 1979), known as Felix Aylmer, 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 appeared in the world premiere of The Farmer's Wife by Eden Phillpotts at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1917.

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]




Year Title Role Notes
1930 Escape Governor
1930 The Temporary Widow Public Prosecutor
1932 The World, the Flesh, the Devil Sir Henderson Trent
1933 Home, Sweet Home Robert Wilding KC
1933 The Ghost Camera Coroner
1933 The Shadow Sir Richard Bryant
1933 The Wandering Jew Ferera
1934 The Clairvoyant Prosecutor (uncredited)
1934 Whispering Tongues Supt. Fulton
1934 The Night Club Queen Prosecution
1934 The Path of Glory President of Thalia
1934 The Iron Duke Lord Uxbridge
1934 My Old Dutch Judge
1934 Doctor's Orders Sir Daniel Summerfield released as The Doctor's Secret in USA
1935 She Shall Have Music Donald Black
1935 Hello, Sweetheart Peabody
1935 Old Roses Lord Sandelbury
1935 Checkmate Henry Nicholls
1935 The Divine Spark Butler
1935 The Ace of Spades Lord Yardleigh
1935 The Price of a Song Graham
1936 In the Soup Counsel (uncredited)
1936 The Improper Duchess Count Seidel
1936 Rhodes of Africa Johannesburg Diplomat (uncredited) released as Rhodes in USA
1936 Tudor Rose Edward Seymour released as Nine Days a Queen in USA
1936 Her Last Affaire Lord Carnforth
1936 Royal Eagle Windridge
1936 Seven Sinners Sir Charles Webber
1936 As You Like It Duke Frederick
1936 Dusty Ermine Police commissioner
1936 The Man in the Mirror The Earl of Wigan
1936 Sensation Lord Bouverie
1936 Jack of All Trades Managing director
1937 The Mill on the Floss Mr Wakem
1937 The Live Wire
1937 Dreaming Lips Sir Robert Blaker
1937 The Frog John Bennett
1937 Glamorous Night Diplomat
1937 The Vicar of Bray Earl of Brendon
1937 Action for Slander Sir Eustace Cunninghame
1937 Victoria the Great Lord Palmerston
1937 The Rat Prosecuting Counsel
1938 South Riding Chairman of counsel
1938 Bank Holiday Surgeon
1938 Kate Plus Ten Bishop
1938 Break the News Sir George Bickory
1938 I've Got a Horse Lovatt
1938 Sixty Glorious Years Lord Palmerston released as Queen of Destiny in USA
1938 The Citadel Mr Boon
1939 Just like a Woman Sir Robert Hummel
1939 Young Man's Fancy Sir Caleb Crowther
1940 Night Train to Munich Dr John Fredericks
1940 Girl in the News Prosecuting counsel
1940 Spies of the Air Colonel Cairns
1940 Charley's (Big-Hearted) Aunt The Proctor
1940 Dr. O'Dowd President
1940 The Briggs Family Mr Sand
1940 The Case of the Frightened Lady Dr Amersham released as The Frightened Lady in USA
1940 Saloon Bar Mayour


Year Title Role Notes
1941 The Seventh Survivor Sir Elmer Norton
1941 The Saint's Vacation Leighton
1941 The Ghost of St. Michael's Dr Winter
1941 Spellbound Mr Morton released as The Spell of Amy Nugent in USA
1941 Major Barbara James
1941 Kipps
1941 Once a Crook King's counsel
1941 Atlantic Ferry bank president
1941 I Thank You Henry Potter
1941 Hi Gang! Lord Amersham
1941 South American George Mr Appleby
1942 The Peterville Diamond President
1942 The Black Sheep of Whitehall Crabtree
1942 Sabotage at Sea John Dighton
1942 The Young Mr Pitt Lord North
1942 Uncensored Colonel von Hohenstein
1943 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp The Bishop
1943 Thursday's Child Mr Keith
1943 The Demi-Paradise Mr Runalow
1943 Escape to Danger Sir Alfred Horton
1944 English Without Tears
1944 Time Flies The Professor
1944 Mr. Emmanuel Mr Emmanuel
1944 Henry V Archbishop of Canterbury
1945 The Way to the Stars Reverend Charles Moss
1945 The Wicked Lady Hogarth
1945 Caesar and Cleopatra First nobleman
1946 The Years Between Sir Enrst Forster
1946 The Magic Bow Signor Fazzini
1946 The Laughing Lady Sir Felix Mountroyal
1947 Green Fingers Daniel Booth
1947 The Man Within Priest
1947 The October Man Dr Martin
1947 A Man About the House Richard Sanctuary
1947 The Ghosts of Berkeley Square Col. H. "Bulldog" Kelsoe
1948 The Calendar Lord Forlingham
1948 Hamlet Polonius Lord Chamberlain
1948 Quartet Martin
1949 Edward, My Son Mr Hanray
1949 Alice in Wonderland Dr Liddel/The Chesire Cat (voice)
1949 Christopher Columbus Father Perez
1949 Prince of Foxes Count Marc Antonio Verano
1950 Your Witness The British judge released as Eye Witness in USA
1950 So Long at the Fair British consul
1950 Trio Bank manager
1950 She Shall Have Murder Mr Playfair


Year Title Role Notes
1951 No Highway Sir Philip (uncredited)
1951 The Lady with the Lamp Lord Palmerston
1951 Quo Vadis Plautius
1951 The House in the Square Sir William, the Physician (uncredited) released as I'll Never forget You in USA
1952 Ivanhoe Isaac
1952 The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By Mr Merkemans released as The Paris Express in USA
1953 Knights of the Round Table Merlin
1953 The Master of Ballantrae Lord Durrisdeer
1954 The Love Lottery Winant
1954 The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp Joshua Webman
1956 Loser Takes All The Other
1956 Anastasia Chamberlain
1957 Saint Joan Inquisitor
1958 I Accuse! Edgar Demange
1958 The Two-Headed Spy Cornaz
1958 The Doctor's Dilemma Sir Patrick Cullen
1958 Separate Tables Mr Fowler
1959 The Mummy Stephen Banning
1960 Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Clarence Olderberry Sr.
1960 From the Terrace James Duncan MacHardie
1960 Exodus Dr Liberman
1960 The Hands of Orlac Dr Francis Cochrane


Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Road to Hong Kong Grand Lama
1962 The Boys The Judge
1963 The Affair
1963 The Running Man Parson
1964 Becket Archbishop of Canterbury
1964 The Thief and the Cobbler
1964 The Chalk Garden Judge McWhirrey
1965 Masquerade Henrickson
1968 Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher Judge
1968 Hostile Witness Justice Osborne


  • 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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