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Hawkins in 1973, by Allan Warren
|Born||John Edward Hawkins
14 September 1910
Wood Green, Middlesex, England
|Died||18 July 1973
Chelsea, London, England
|Spouse(s)||Jessica Tandy (1932–40) (divorced) 1 child
Doreen Lawrence (1947–73, his death) 3 children
|Children||Susan Hawkins (b. 1934)
Caroline Hawkins (b. 1955)
He was born at 45 Lyndhurst Road, Wood Green, now in Haringey, London, the son of a builder. He was educated at Wood Green’s Trinity County Grammar School, where, aged eight, he joined the school choir. By the age of ten Hawkins had joined the local operatic society, and made his stage debut in Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan. His parents enrolled him in the Italia Conti Academy and whilst he was studying there he made his London stage debut, when aged eleven, playing the Elf King in Where the Rainbow Ends at the Holborn Empire on Boxing Day, December 1923, a production that also included the young Noël Coward. He appeared on Broadway in Journey's End by the age of 18. Although he appeared in several films during the 1930s, it was only after service in World War II, during which he had become a colonel in ENSA for India and Southeast Asia, that he began to build a successful career in the cinema.
Hawkins became a star with the release of three successful films in which he played stern but sympathetic authority figures: Angels One Five (1951), The Planter's Wife (1952), and Mandy (1952). In 1952 British exhibitors voted him the fourth most popular local star at the box office. He consolidated this status with The Cruel Sea, which was the most successful film of the year and saw Hawkins voted the most popular star in Britain regardless of nationality.
Hawkins' popularity declined with a series of less successful movies, but his authoritative presence meant he was always in demand. From the late 1950s, he mostly appeared in character roles, often in epic films like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia (playing General Edmund Allenby), Lord Jim, and Oh! What a Lovely War. For The Bridge on the River Kwai, he had to persuade good friend Alec Guinness to take the lead role, which would ultimately win Guinness an Oscar.
Some of Hawkins' more unusual roles included an Egyptian Pharaoh in Land of the Pharaohs, Ben Hur's adoptive Roman father Quintus Arrius in Ben-Hur, and Zulu, where he played against type as the fanatical pacifist, Reverend Otto Witt.
In reality Hawkins was politically liberal, and an emotional man, in sharp contrast to his conservative screen image. One of his favourite films, The League of Gentlemen, was considered quite groundbreaking for its time in its references to sex. However, though initially sought for the role of a gay barrister in Victim, he turned it down fearing that it might conflict with his masculine image. The role was eventually played by Dirk Bogarde.
Illness and death
A three-packet-a-day chain smoker, Hawkins began experiencing voice problems in the late 1950s; unknown to the public he had undergone cobalt treatment in 1959 for what was then described as a secondary condition of the larynx, but which was probably cancer. In private, he used a mechanical larynx to aid his speech. In December 1965, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. His entire larynx was removed in January of the following year; thereafter his performances were dubbed, often (with Hawkins's approval) by Robert Rietti or Charles Gray. Hawkins continued to smoke after losing his voice.
Hawkins died at St Stephen's Hospital, Fulham Road, London, on 18 July 1973, following an operation to insert an artificial voicebox. He was 62. His final appearance was in the television miniseries QB VII. His autobiography, Anything For a Quiet Life, was published after his death. He was cremated and his ashes interred at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.
- Birds of Prey (1930) as Alfred
- The Lodger (1932) as John Martin
- The Good Companions (1933) as Albert
- The Lost Chord (1933) as Sr. Jim Selby
- I Lived with You (1933) as Mort
- The Jewel (1933) as Peter Roberts
- A Shot in the Dark (1933) as Norman Paull
- Autumn Crocus (1934) as Alaric
- Death at Broadcasting House (1934) as Herbert Evans
- Lorna Doone (1934) as Member of the Court (uncredited)
- Peg of Old Drury (1935) as Michael O'Taffe
- Beauty and the Barge (1937) as Lt. Seton Boyne
- The Frog (1937) as Capt. Gordon
- Who Goes Next? (1938) as Capt. Beck
- A Royal Divorce (1938) as Capt. Charles
- Murder Will Out (1939) as Stamp
- The Flying Squad (1940) as Mark McGill
- The Next of Kin (1942) as Brigade Major Harcourt
- The Fallen Idol (1948) as Detective Ames
- Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) as Lord George Murray
- The Small Back Room (1949) as R.B. Waring
- State Secret (1950) as Colonel Galcon
- The Black Rose (1950) as Tristram Griffin
- The Elusive Pimpernel (1950) as Prince of Wales / Footpad attacking Lord Anthony
- The Adventurers (1951) as Pieter Brandt
- No Highway in the Sky (1951) as Dennis Scott
- Home at Seven (1952) as Dr. Sparling
- Angels One Five (1952) as Group Capt. 'Tiger' Small
- Mandy (1952) as Dick Searle
- The Planter's Wife (1952) as Jim Frazer
- The Cruel Sea (1953) as Ericson
- Malta Story (1953) as Air CO Frank
- Twice Upon a Time (1953) as Dr. Mathews
- The Intruder (1953) as Wolf Merton
- Front Page Story (1954) as Grant
- The Seekers (1954) as Phillip Wayne
- The Prisoner (1955) as The Interrogator
- Land of the Pharaohs (1955) as Pharaoh Khufu
- Touch and Go (1955) as Jim Fletcher
- The Long Arm (1956) as Detective-Superintendent Tom Halliday
- The Man in the Sky (1957) as John Mitchell
- Fortune Is a Woman (1957) as Oliver Branwell
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) as Major Warden
- Gideon's Day (USA title: Gideon of Scotland Yard) (1958) as DCI George Gideon
- The Two-Headed Spy (1958) as Gen. Alex Schottland
- Ben-Hur (1959) as Quintus Arrius
- The League of Gentlemen (1960) as Col. Norman Hyde
- Lafayette (1961) as General Cornwallis
- Two Loves (1961) as William W.J. Abercrombie
- Five Finger Exercise (1962) as Stanley Harrington
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as General Allenby
- Rampage (1963) as Otto Abbot
- Zulu (1964) as Otto Witt
- The Third Secret (1964) as Sir Frederick Belline
- Guns at Batasi (1964) as Colonel Deal
- Lord Jim (1965) as Marlow
- Masquerade (1965) as Colonel Drexel
- Judith (1966) as Major Lawton
- Danger Grows Wild (1966) as General Bahar
- Stalked (short) (1968) as The Man
- Shalako (1968) as Sir Charles Daggett
- Great Catherine (1968) as The British Ambassador
- Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) as Emperor Franz Joseph
- Monte Carlo or Bust (1969) as Count Levinovitch
- Twinky (1970) as Judge Millington-Draper
- The Adventures of Gerard (1970) as Marshal Millefleurs
- Waterloo (1970) as General Sir Thomas Picton
- Jane Eyre (1970) as Mr. Brocklehurst
- The Beloved (1971) as Father Nicholas
- When Eight Bells Toll (1971) as Sir Anthony Skouras
- Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) as Count Fredericks
- Kidnapped (1971) as Captain Hoseason
- The Last Lion(1972) as Ryk Mannering
- Young Winston (1972) as Mr. Welldon
- Escape to the Sun(1972) as Baburin
- Theatre of Blood (1973) as Solomon Psaltery
- Tales That Witness Madness (1973) as Dr. Nicholas
British box office ranking
During the 1950s, British exhibitors consistently voted Hawkins one of the most popular local stars in the country in the annual poll conducted by the Motion Picture Herald:
- 1952 – 4th most popular British star
- 1953 – most popular international star
- 1954 – 5th most popular international star, most popular British star
- 1955 – 6th most popular British star
- 1956 – 2nd most popular British star
- 1957 – 9th most popular British star
- 1958 – 9th most popular British star
- Obituary Variety, 25 July 1973, page 55.
- Profile of Jack Hakwins at britmovie.co.uk
- The Broadway League. "Jack Hawkins - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". ibdb.com.
- "Hawkins, John Edward "Jack"". ww2gravestone.com.
- "COMEDIAN TOPS FILM POLL.". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 - 1953). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 28 December 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "Jack Hawkins". britmovie.co.uk.
- Alex von Tunzelmann. "Land of the Pharaohs: the plot won't triangulate - reel history". the Guardian.
- "'Here they come again': Zulu at 50". theartsdesk.com.
- "4 Just Men". 78rpm.co.uk.
- Imdb bio
- "Victim". BFI.
- "The Ruling Class". BFI.
- "BFI Screenonline: Hawkins, Jack (1910-1973) Biography". screenonline.org.uk.
- "Widow of Jack Hawkins dies aged 94". Telegraph.co.uk. 17 June 2013.
- Hawkins, Jack (1975). Anything for a Quiet Life. London: Coronet. ISBN 0-340-19866-4.
- "Jack Hawkins movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography - AllMovie". AllMovie.
- GRO Register of Deaths: SEP 1973 5a 1339 CHELSEA - John Edward Hawkins, DoB = 14 September 1910
- "Jack Hawkins (1910 - 1973) - Find A Grave Memorial". findagrave.com.
- "JOHN WAYNE HEADS BOX-OFFICE POLL.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954). Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 31 December 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "'The Dam Busters'." The Times [London, England] 29 Dec 1955: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "The Most Popular Film Star In Britain" The Times [London, England] 7 Dec 1956: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- 'BRITISH ACTORS HEAD FILM POLL: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY', The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 27 Dec 1957: 3.
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