John Justin

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John Justin
John Justin 1940.jpg
pictured in 1940
Born (1917-11-24)24 November 1917
London, England, UK
Died 29 November 2002(2002-11-29) (aged 85)
Petersfield, Hampshire, England, UK
Other names John Justinian de Ledesma
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940-1983
Spouse(s) Pola Nirenska (1935–1949) (divorced)
Barbara Murray (1952–1964) (divorced) 3 children
Alison McMurdo (1979–2002) (his death)

John Justin (24 November 1917 – 29 November 2002) was a British stage and film actor.[1]

John Justinian de Ledesma was born in London, England, the son of a well-off Argentine rancher. Though he grew up on his father's ranch, he was educated at Bryanston School in Bryanston, Dorset.[2] He developed an interest in flying and became a qualified pilot at the age of 12, though he was not allowed to fly solo at the time because of his age.

He became interested in acting at a young age. By the age of 16, he had joined the Plymouth Repertory. In 1937, he briefly trained with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but did not like it and soon joined the repertory company of John Gielgud. In 1938, he auditioned for and won the role for which he is perhaps best remembered, Ahmad in the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, opposite Sabu.

The Second World War broke out during the film's production. After completing the picture, Justin joined the Royal Air Force, serving as a test pilot and flying instructor.[2][3] He also worked on two films, The Gentle Sex (1943) with Leslie Howard, and Journey Together (1944), an RAF feature film with a cast led by Richard Attenborough, Jack Watling and David Tomlinson; with a special appearance by the American film star, Edward G. Robinson. Legendary silent film star Bessie Love also appeared in the cast.

With the war's end, Justin returned to acting. He made more films, such as David Lean's The Sound Barrier (1952), Island in the Sun (1957) and Lisztomania (1975), but his strong preference was for the stage. He became a member of the Old Vic company in 1959. He made his Broadway debut in 1960 in the play Little Moon of Alban. In 1979, he played the ghoulish lover in the BBC's dramatisation of Le Fanu's Strange Incident in the Life of Schalcken the Painter, one of its Christmas ghost stories.

In 1968, he played Thorin Oakenshield in the BBC Radio adaptation of The Hobbit.[4]

Justin was married three times, first to dancer and choreographer Pola Nirenska. His second marriage, to actress Barbara Murray, lasted from 1952 to 1964; they had three daughters. From 1970 to his death in 2002, he was married to Alison McMurdo.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "John Justin". BFI. 
  2. ^ a b Shorter, Eric (6 December 2002). "John Justin obituary". The Guardian ( London. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  3. ^ Bruce Eder. "John Justin Biography". Allmovie. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  4. ^ "The Hobbit Full Cast Radio Drama". Internet Archive. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 

External links[edit]