Hugh Emrys Griffith
30 May 1912
Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales
|Died||14 May 1980 (aged 67)|
|Resting place||Golders Green Crematorium|
|Spouse||(Adelgunde) Margaret Beatrice von Dechend (m. 1947)|
|Relatives||Elen Roger Jones (sister)|
Hugh Emrys Griffith (30 May 1912 – 14 May 1980) was a Welsh film, stage, and television actor. He is best remembered for his role in the film Ben-Hur (1959), which earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Some of his other notable credits include Exodus (1960), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), Tom Jones (1963), and Oliver! (1968).
Griffith was born in Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales, the youngest son of Mary and William Griffith. He was educated at Llangefni County School and attempted to gain entrance to university, but failed the English examination. He was then urged to make a career in banking, becoming a bank clerk and transferring to London to be closer to acting opportunities.
Just as he was making progress and gained admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he had to suspend his plans in order to join the British Army, serving for six years with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in India and the Burma Campaign during the Second World War. He resumed his acting career in 1946.
Between 1946 and 1976, Griffith won acclaim for many stage roles, in particular for his portrayals of Falstaff, Lear and Prospero. Griffith performed on both sides of the Atlantic, taking leading roles in London, New York City and Stratford. In 1952, he starred in the Broadway adaption of Legend of Lovers, alongside fellow Welsh actor Richard Burton.
In 1958, he was back in New York, this time taking a lead role in the opening production of Look Homeward, Angel, alongside Anthony Perkins. Both he and Perkins were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
Griffith began his film career in British films during the late 1940s, and by the 1950s was also working in Hollywood. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Ben-Hur (1959), and was nominated for his performance in Tom Jones (1963). In 1968, he appeared as the magistrate in Oliver!. His later career was often blighted by his chronic alcoholism.
He played the funeral director Caradog Lloyd-Evans in the 1978 comedy Grand Slam. While visibly unwell at the time of shooting (years of alcohol abuse had clearly taken their toll), Griffith's portrayal received widespread acclaim and helped the movie attain cult status.
On television, he had major roles in Quatermass II (1955), a miniseries adaptation of A. J. Cronin's The Citadel (1960) and Clochemerle (1972).
He received an honorary degree from the University of Wales, Bangor, in 1965.
Griffith, after being unwell for about a year, died in 1980 at his home in Kensington, London, two weeks before his 68th birthday.
|1939||Johnson Was No Gentleman||A Footman||TV movie|
|1940||Night Train to Munich||Sailor||Uncredited|
|1947||The Wandering Jew||Juan de Texeda||TV movie|
|Maria Marten or, the Murder at the Red Barn||Ishmael||TV movie|
|The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus||Mephistophilis||TV movie|
|The Silver Darlings||Packman|
|1948||The Three Weird Sisters||Mabli Hughes|
|So Evil My Love||Coroner|
|The First Gentleman||Bishop of Salisbury|
|A Comedy of Good and Evil||The Rev. John Williams||TV movie|
|London Belongs to Me||Headlam Fynne|
|1949||The Last Days of Dolwyn||The Minister|
|Kind Hearts and Coronets||Lord High Steward|
|A Run for Your Money||Huw Price|
|1950||Gone to Earth||Andrew Vessons||Significantly changed for the American market, retitled The Wild Heart and released in 1952|
|1951||The Galloping Major||Harold Temple, Process Server|
|Laughter in Paradise||Henry Augustus Russell|
|1952||The Wild Heart||Andrew Vessons|
|1953||The Titfield Thunderbolt||Dan Taylor|
|The Beggar's Opera||The Beggar|
|Escapade||Andrew Deeson||TV movie|
|The Broken Jug||Judge Adam||TV movie|
|The Teddy Bear||Charley Delaney||TV movie|
|1954||The Million Pound Note||Potter||Uncredited|
|The Sleeping Tiger||The Inspector|
|The Merry Christmas||Scrooge||TV movie|
|1957||The Good Companions||Morton Mitcham|
|Lucky Jim||Professor Welch|
|1959||Ben-Hur||Sheik Ilderim||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
Laurel Award for Top Male Supporting Performance (3rd place)
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
|The Story on Page One||Judge Edgar Neilsen|
|1960||The Citadel||Philip Denny||TV movie|
|The Day They Robbed the Bank of England||O'Shea|
|Point of Departure||Father||TV movie|
|1962||The Counterfeit Traitor||Collins|
|The Inspector||Van der Pink|
|Term of Trial||O'Hara|
|Mutiny on the Bounty||Alexander Smith|
|1963||Tom Jones||Squire Western|| Laurel Award for Top Male Supporting Performance (5th place)|
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated-BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
|1964||Hide and Seek||Wilkins|
|The Bargee||Joe Turnbull|
|1965||The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders||Prison Governor|
|1966||The Poppy Is Also a Flower||Salah Rahman Khan|
|How to Steal a Million||Bonnet|
|1967||Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad||Commodore Roseabove|
|The Sailor from Gibraltar||Llewellyn|
|On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who...||Ibn-el-Rascid|
|Brown Eye, Evil Eye||Tadeusz Bridges|
|1968||Il marito è mio e l'ammazzo quando mi pare||Ignazio|
|Oliver!||The Magistrate||Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture|
|1970||Start the Revolution Without Me||King Louis XVI|
|Cry of the Banshee||Mickey|
|Wuthering Heights||Dr. Kenneth|
|1971||Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?||The Pigman/Mr. Harrison|
|The Abominable Dr. Phibes||Rabbi|
|1972||Dr. Phibes Rises Again||Harry Ambrose|
|The Canterbury Tales||Sir January|
|1973||Crescete e moltiplicatevi|
|The Final Programme||Professor Hira|
|Take Me High||Sir Harry Cunningham|
|Cugini Carnali||Barone di Roccadura||Also screened under the names Loving Cousins, Hot and Bothered, and High School Girl|
|1975||Legend of the Werewolf||Maestro Pamponi|
|1976||The Passover Plot||Caiaphas|
|1977||Casanova & Co.||The Caliph|
|Joseph Andrews||Squire Western|
|The Last Remake of Beau Geste||Judge|
|1978||Grand Slam||Caradog Lloyd-Evans||TV movie|
|The Hound of the Baskervilles||Frankland|
|1979||A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square||Sid Larkin||Final film role|
- ^ Obituary Variety, 21 May 1980.
- ^ "Hugh Griffith". BBC Wales Arts. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- ^ a b c Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines; Lynch, Peredur I., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
- ^ "Legend of Lovers". IBDb.com. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- ^ "Look Homeward, Angel". IBDb.com. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- ^ Biodrowski, Steve (2004). "Dr. Phibes Rises Again". Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- ^ Turner, Robin (29 March 2009). "New book tells of Wales' famous boozers". Western Mail. walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- ^ a b "Griffith, Hugh Emrys (1912–1980)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55467. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- ^ "Hugh Griffith, Oscar-Winning Actor In 1959 For His Role in 'Ben Hur,' Dies", The Washington Post, digital archives, 15 May 1980, C4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
- 1912 births
- 1980 deaths
- Alumni of RADA
- Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winners
- British Army personnel of World War II
- Royal Welch Fusiliers soldiers
- Actors from Anglesey
- Welsh male film actors
- Welsh male stage actors
- Welsh male television actors
- People educated at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni
- 20th-century Welsh male actors
- Golders Green Crematorium