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|Born||James Robert MacGeorge Donald
18 May 1917
Aberdeen, Scotland UK
|Died||3 August 1993
|Spouse(s)||Ann Donald (?-1993) (his death) 1 child|
Donald was born in Aberdeen, and made his first professional stage appearance in the late-1930s, having been educated at Rossall School on Lancashire's Fylde coast. During World War II he had minor roles in war films including, In Which We Serve (1942), Went the Day Well? (1942), and The Way Ahead (1944). He played Mr. Winkle in the 1952 film version of The Pickwick Papers. However, leading roles eluded him until he played Theo Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956).
His work in the theatre included Noël Coward's Present Laughter (1943) which starred Coward himself, and The Eagle with Two Heads (1947), You Never Can Tell (1948), and The Heiress (1949) with Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and Donald Sinden.
He memorably portrayed Major Clipton, the doctor who expresses grave doubts about the sanity of Col. Nicholson's (Alec Guinness) efforts to build the bridge in order to show up his Japanese captors, in the blockbuster classic film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). He had the honour of speaking the film's iconic final words: "Madness!, Madness!" He also played another memorable military character, Group Captain Ramsey, the Senior British Officer in The Great Escape (1963), as well as roles in other notable films both in Britain and the United States, including The Vikings (1958), King Rat (1965), Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and Quatermass and the Pit (1967).
Donald starred in a 1960 television adaptation of A. J. Cronin's The Citadel and appeared regularly in many other television dramas in the UK and US, as well as on stage. In 1961, he played Prince Albert opposite Julie Harris's Queen Victoria, in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Laurence Housman's play Victoria Regina, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
World War II Service
- One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) (uncredited)
- The Missing Million (1942)
- In Which We Serve (1942)
- Alibi (1942) (uncredited)
- Went the Day Well? (1942)
- San Demetrio London (1943)
- The Way Ahead (1944)
- Broken Journey (1948)
- The Small Voice (1949)
- Edward, My Son (1949)
- Trottie True (1949)
- Cage of Gold (1950)
- White Corridors (1951)
- Brandy for the Parson (1952)
- Gift Horse (1952)
- The Pickwick Papers (1952)
- The Net (1953)
- Beau Brummell (1954)
- Lust for Life (1956)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
- The Vikings (1958)
- Third Man on the Mountain (1959)
- The Great Escape (1963)
- King Rat (1965)
- Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
- Quatermass and the Pit (1967) (Released as Five Million Years to Earth in the US)
- The Jokers (1967)
- Hannibal Brooks (1969)
- The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969)
- David Copperfield (1969) (TV)
- Conduct Unbecoming (1975)
- The Big Sleep (1978)
- "James Donald". BFI.
- CliptonsWife. "Biography - Tribute to James Donald". james-donald.net.
- "Obituary: James Donald". The Independent.
- Hal Erickson. "James Donald - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
- "James Donald". britmovie.co.uk.
- Tribute to James Donald
- James Donald at the Internet Movie Database
- Obituary in The Independent
- Obituary in The New York Times
- Photos of the shooting The Great Escape. New book about the filming