Laurence Harvey in 1973,
photograph by Allan Warren
|Born||Zvi Mosheh Skikne
1 October 1928
|Died||25 November 1973
Cause of death
|Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, California|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Leighton (1957–1961; divorced)
Joan Perry (1968–1972; divorced)
Paulene Stone (1972–1973; his death)
|Children||Domino Harvey (1969–2005)|
Laurence Harvey (1 October 1928 – 25 November 1973) was a Lithuanian-born actor. In a career that spanned a quarter of a century, Harvey appeared in stage, film and television productions primarily in the United Kingdom and the United States. His 1959 performance in Room at the Top  brought him global fame and an Academy Award nomination. That success was followed by the role of the ill-fated Texan commander William Barret Travis in The Alamo, produced by John Wayne, and as the brainwashed Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate. Many of his films earned nominations and awards for either the films or his co-stars.
Harvey maintained throughout his life that his birth name was Laruschka Mischa Skikne, but it was actually Zvi Mosheh Skikne. He was the youngest of three boys born to Ella (née Zotnickaita) and Ber Skikne, a Lithuanian Jewish family in the town of Joniškis, Lithuania. When he was five years old, his family emigrated to South Africa, where he was known as Harry Skikne. He grew up in Johannesburg, and was in his teens when he served with the entertainment unit of the South African Army during the Second World War.
After moving to London, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After leaving RADA early, he began to perform on stage and film. The stage name "Laurence Harvey" was the idea of talent agent Gordon Harbord who decided Laurence would be an appropriate first name. In choosing a British-sounding last name, Harbord thought of two British retail institutions, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. The actor and the agent scoured theatrical directories and found that the name Laurence Harvey was not already taken by anyone else in the profession.
Harvey made his cinema debut in the British film House of Darkness (1948). Associated British Picture Corporation quickly offered him a two-year contract and he appeared in several of their lower budget films such as Cairo Road (1950). His career got a boost when he appeared in Women of Twilight (1952); this was made by Romulus Films who signed Harvey to a long-term contract. He secured a supporting role in a Hollywood film, Knights of the Round Table (1953), which led to being cast with Rex Harrison and George Sanders in King Richard and the Crusaders (1954). That year he also played Romeo in Renato Castellani's adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, narrated by John Gielgud. He was now established as an emerging British star. According to a contemporary interview, he turned down an offer to appear in Helen of Troy (1955) to act at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Harvey was cast as the writer Christopher Isherwood in I Am A Camera (1955), with Julie Harris as Sally Bowles (Cabaret is a musical from the same source texts). He also appeared on American TV and on Broadway, making his Broadway debut in 1955 in the play Island of Goats, a flop which closed after one week, though his performance won him a 1956 Theatre World Award. Harvey appeared twice more on Broadway, in 1957 with Julie Harris, Pamela Brown and Colleen Dewhurst in William Wycherley's The Country Wife, and as Shakespeare's Henry V in 1959, as part of the Old Vic company, which featured a young Judi Dench as Katherine, the Daughter of the King of France.
Harvey's breakthrough to international stardom came when he was cast by director Jack Clayton as the social climber Joe Lampton in Room at the Top (1959) produced by British film producer brothers John and James Woolf of Romulus Films. For his performance, Harvey received a BAFTA Award  nomination and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Simone Signoret won an Academy Award for her performance.
Harvey was cast in the role that had made Peter O'Toole prominent in the West End: the film version of The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961); O'Toole was not yet established as an actor in films and Harvey was more "bankable".
In 1960, he starred in John Wayne's epic The Alamo. Harvey was John Wayne's personal choice to play Alamo commandant William Barret Travis. He had been impressed by Harvey's talent and ability to project the aristocratic demeanor Wayne believed Travis possessed. Harvey and Wayne would later express their mutual admiration and satisfaction at having worked together.
Harvey starred in two films with Elizabeth Taylor, the 1960 vehicle BUtterfield 8 that garnered an Academy Award for Taylor, and the 1973 suspense film Night Watch. Taylor and Harvey remained friends until the end of his life. She visited him three weeks before his death, but Harvey's wife Paulene felt the visit tired him and was counterproductive. Upon his death, Taylor issued the statement, "He was one of the people I really loved in this world. He was part of the sun. For everyone who loved him, the sun is a bit dimmer." She and Peter Lawford held a memorial service for Harvey in California.
In 1961, Harvey co-starred with Geraldine Page in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke  For her performance, Page won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award, the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the National Board of Review Award. Una Merkel was nominated for a supporting performance Academy Award. The film received several other awards nominations, including Academy Award nominations for Best Music Score and Best Set Decoration.
Other films included Walk on the Wild Side (1962) with Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Fonda and Capucine. He appeared as the brainwashed Raymond Shaw in 1962 in the Cold War thriller The Manchurian Candidate. The same year, he recorded an album of spoken excerpts from the book This Is My Beloved by Walter Benton, accompanied by original music by Herbie Mann. It was released on the Atlantic label. Harvey's portrayal of Wilhelm Grimm in the 1962 film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm earned him a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
The 1964 remake of W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage cast Kim Novak as Harvey's co-star. During filming, kidnap threats were made against both Harvey and Novak.The Outrage (1964) was director Martin Ritt's remake of Akira Kurosawa's classic Rashomon. Besides Harvey, the film starred Paul Newman.and Claire Bloom. The film was not a success, in spite of the cast. Harvey reprised his Academy Award-nominated role as Joe Lampton in Life at the Top (1965).
Harvey starred in the 1965 film Darling which won three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Julie Christie. It was nominated for Best Picture by the Academy. The film also co-starred Dirk Bogarde and received numerous other awards and nominations. Harvey co-starred with Daliah Lavi in the comedy The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966). The film was a spoof of the James Bond films. It garnered two Golden Globe Award nominations in 1967, for "Best Foreign Film – English Language" and for Lionel Jeffries in his performance.
The script for director Tony Richardson's 1968 film The Charge of the Light Brigade was partially based on the 1953 Cecil Woodham-Smith book The Reason Why. At the time John Osborne wrote the script, Harvey owned the rights to the book with the intent of filming his own adaptation. A lawsuit was filed against Richardson's company Woodfall Film Productions on behalf of the book's author. There was a monetary settlement, and Harvey was given the role of Prince Radziwell as part of the settlement. Charles Wood was brought in to re-write the script. Richardson had all Harvey's scenes cut from the movie, except a brief glimpse as an anonymous member of a theatre audience, technically still meeting the requirements of the legal settlement.
The spy thriller A Dandy in Aspic (1968) co-starred Mia Farrow, at the time married to Frank Sinatra. Director Anthony Mann died during production, and it was left up to Harvey to finish directing the film. Harvey provided the narration for the 1969 Soviet film Tchaikovsky, directed by Igor Talankin. At the 44th Academy Awards, the film received two nominations, for Best Foreign Language Film, and for Dimitri Tiomkin's music score.
In The Magic Christian, Harvey performed a striptease to the rhythm of stripper music while reciting Hamlet's soliloquy. Up in the balcony Ringo Starr quipped, "I've seen it. Shakespeare, right?" and Peter Sellers deadpanned, "That fellow's taking license, in my view." The 1969 movie was based on a Terry Southern novel by the same name. The Beatles references, which include look-a-likes for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, have made the movie a cult curiosity among Beatles fans. Monty Python writers Graham Chapman and John Cleese helped work on the script. An all-star cast that included Raquel Welch, Spike Milligan, Christopher Lee, Yul Brynner and Roman Polanski was not enough to make the movie a commercial success.
He was also guest murderer of the week on Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match in 1973 as a chess champion who murders his opponent.
Joanna Pettet and her husband Alex Cord had been friends of Harvey's from the 1960s. They were both fond of Harvey and enjoyed his sense of humor, but Cord also acknowledged Harvey could be cruel with anyone he didn't like. Pettet appeared with Harvey in the 1972 episode "The Caterpillar" on Rod Serling's Night Gallery. In the episode, Harvey's character has unrequited attraction to Pettet's married character. He hires someone to kill off the husband by placing a deadly earwig in the husband's ear. In error, the earwig is inserted into the ear of Harvey's character and, although removed, has laid eggs inside his brain. A decade later, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would depict a very similar torture. Harvey directed and starred in his final film Welcome to Arrow Beach, which co-starred his friend Joanna Pettet, John Ireland and Stuart Whitman. The film deals with a type of war-related Post-traumatic stress disorder that turns a military veteran to cannibalism.
Orson Welles's The Deep with Jeanne Moreau was to have Harvey in the lead. Welles worked on the film in between other projects of his. The production had money problems, and Harvey's 1973 death ultimately put an end to the project.
Early in his career, Harvey had a live-in relationship with Hermione Baddeley. A British stage actress who also appeared on Broadway and became familiar on American television by playing Nell Naugatuck on Maude, she was twenty-two years older than Harvey. Although Harvey proposed marriage to her, Baddeley thought the age difference was too great.
He left Baddeley in 1951 for actress Margaret Leighton, who was six years older than Harvey and at the time was married to Max Reinhardt. Leighton and Reinhardt divorced in 1955, and she married Harvey in 1957 off the Rock of Gibraltar. The couple divorced in 1961.
In 1968 he married Joan Perry Cohn, seventeen years his senior. Although often referred to as the widow of film mogul Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures, she had a brief post-widowhood marriage to shoe store magnate Harry Karl that lasted for three weeks in 1959. Her marriage to Laurence Harvey lasted until 1972.
Harvey's third marriage was to British fashion model Paulene Stone. She gave birth to his only child Domino in 1969 while he was still married to Cohn. In 1972, Harvey and Stone married at the home of Harold Robbins.
In his account of being Frank Sinatra's valet, Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra (2003), George Jacobs writes that Harvey often made passes at him while visiting Sinatra. According to Jacobs, Sinatra was aware of Harvey's sexuality. In his autobiography Close Up (2004), British actor John Fraser claimed that Harvey was gay and that his long-term lover was Harvey's manager James Woolf, who had cast Harvey in several of the films he produced in the 1950s.
Harvey would often clash with co-workers. Jane Fonda who appeared with him in Walk on the Wild Side said, "There are actors and actors - and then there are the Laurence Harveys. With them, it's like acting by yourself."
Harvey would respond, "Someone once asked me, 'Why is it so many people hate you?' and I said, 'Do they? How super! I'm really quite pleased about it."
A heavy smoker and drinker, Harvey died from stomach cancer on November 25, 1973 at the age of 45. His daughter, Domino, who later became a bounty hunter, was only 4 when he died, and only 35 when she died in 2005. They are buried together in Santa Barbara Cemetery in Santa Barbara, California.
According to his obituary in the New York Times:
With his clipped speech, cool smile and a cigarette dangling impudently from his lips, Laurence Harvey established himself as the screen's perfect pin-striped cad. He could project such utter boredom that willowy debutantes would shrivel in his presence. He could also exude such charm that the same young ladies would gladly lend him their hearts, which were usually returned utterly broken... The image Mr Harvey carefully fostered for himself off screen was not far removed from some of the roles he played. "I'm a flamboyant character, an extrovert who doesn't want to reveal his feelings," he once said. "To bare your soul to the world, I find unutterably boring. I think part of our profession is to have a quixotic personality."
Awards and nominations
- 1956 Theatre World Award.
- 1959 Nomination BAFTA Award for Best British Actor
- 1960 Nomination BAFTA Award for Best British Actor
- 1959 Nomination Academy Award for Best Actor
- 1960 Nominated Laurel Award Top Male New Personality
- 1963 Nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
|Opening date||Closing date||Title||Role||Theatre||Notes||Refs|
|16 Nov 1947||Uprooted||Nicky Horroway||Billed as Larry Skikne|||
|9 May 1951||Hassan||Cambridge Theatre|||
|1954||Romeo and Juliet||Romeo||Royal Shakespeare Theatre|||
|4 Oct 1955||8 Oct 1955||Island of Goats||Angelo||Fulton Theatre||1956 Theatre World Award|||
|27 Nov 1957||4 Jan 1958||The Country Wife||Mr. Horner||Adelphi Theatre (11/27/1957 - 12/21/1957)
Henry Miller's Theatre (12/23/1957 - 1/04/1958)
|25 Dec 1958||10 Jan 1959||Henry V||Henry V||Broadway Theatre|||
|19 Aug 1964||Camelot||King Arthur||Theatre Royal, Drury Lane|||
Note: Where British Film Institute (BFI) and American Film Institute (AFI) differed on release year, or if the Wikipedia article title had a different release year, whichever source is the country of production is the year used.
|Year||Title||Role||Other cast members||Notes||Refs.|
|1950||Othello||Cassio||André Morell||(BBC TV)|||
|1953||As You Like It||Orlando||Margaret Leighton||(BBC TV)|||
|1955||ITV Play of the Week||Beljajew||Margaret Leighton||A Month in the Country|||
|The Alcoa Hour||Dick Swiveller||The Small Servant|
|1957||Holiday Night Reunion|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Arthur Williams||Hazel Court, Patrick Macnee||Arthur|||
|ITV Play of the Week||Chris/Misha||Hildegard Knef||The Violent Years|||
|1960||Pontiac Star Parade||Self||Entire cast and crew of The Alamo||The Spirit of the Alamo, wrap party in Brackettville, Texas|||
|What's My Line?||Self||Guest panelist 6 March; mystery guest 1 May|
|Here's Hollywood||Self||Episode 1.19|
|1962||The Milton Berle Show||Self||9 March episode|||
|The Flood (Stravinsky)||Narrator|||
|1964||Password||Self||Georgia Brown v. Laurence Harvey|
|The Ed Sullivan Show||Self||Episode 18.5|
|The Eamonn Andrews Show||Self||Episode 1.2|
|1965||The Eamonn Andrews Show||Self||Episode 2.15|
|The Danny Kaye Show||Self||Episode 3.14|||
|1966||Hollywood Talent Scouts||Self||31 January episode|
|Late Night Line-Up||Self||Michael Dean, Denis Tuohy, Joan Bakewell||5 February episode, BBC|||
|1967||The Merv Griffin Show||Self||27 April episode|
|Dial M for Murder||Tony Wendice||Diane Cilento, Hugh O'Brian, Cyril Cusack, Nigel Davenport||TV movie|||
|The Jerry Lewis Show||Self||Joey Heatherton||October 17, 1967 episode|||
|1968||The Joey Bishop Show||Self||Episodes 2.245 and 3.40|
|Marvelous Party!||Host||A 70th birthday tribute to Noël Coward|
|1969||Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In||Self||Episode 2.25|
|Joker's Wild||Self||American TV game show|
|1970||The David Frost Show||Self||Episode 2.184|
|1971||ITV Saturday Night Theatre||Major Sergius Saranoff||John Standing||Arms and the Man|||
|The Dick Cavett Show||Self||11 May episode|
|The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||Self||19 November episode|
|Celebrity Bowling||Self||Unknown episode|
|1972||Night Gallery||Steven Macy||Caterpillar|||
|1973||Columbo||Emmett Clayton||The Most Dangerous Match|
|45th Academy Awards||Self||Co-Presenter: Best Art Direction – Set Decoration|
|The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||Self||24 August episode|
- Shortly before Harvey's death he was planning on starring and directing in two films, one on Kitty Genovese, the other a Wolf Mankowitz comedy called Cockatrice
- Harvey altered his birth year to 1927 to gain entry to the South African Navy when he was aged only 14, and 1927 now appears in many sources.
- Obituary Variety, 28 November 1973, p. 62.
- "1959 Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination". Academy Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- Special to The New York Times (1973-11-27). "Laurence Harvey, Screen Actor, Is Dead at 45 – Attained Stardom With Role in 'Room at the Top' The Screen's Perfect Cad Enigmatic Flamboyance Was Also in 'Butterfield 8 and 'Manchurian Candidate' An Arrogant Manner – Article – NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
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- Lofficier & Lofficier (2005) p. 113
- Laurence Harvey: Boy Scout figures are gone By Louise Sweeney Film critic of The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 15 Oct 1973: 9.
- Kennedy, Dennis (2002). Looking at Shakespeare A Visual History of Twentieth-Century Performance. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521785488.
- Mullin, Michael; Gielgud, John (1996). Design by Motley. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 978-0874135695.
- Wearing, J. P. (2014). The London Stage 1940-1949: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8108-9305-4.
- Wright, Adrian (2012). West End Broadway: The Golden Age of the American Musical in London. Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1843837916.
- Hickey, Des and Smith, Gus. The Prince: The Public and Private Life of Laurence Harvey. Leslie Frewin. 1975.
- Stone, Paulene. One Tear is Enough: My Life with Laurence Harvey. 1975.
- Sinai, Anne. Reach for the Top: The Turbulent Life of Laurence Harvey. Scarecrow Press. 2003.
- Laurence Harvey at the Internet Movie Database
- Laurence Harvey at AllMovie
- Laurence Harvey at the Internet Broadway Database
- Laurence Harvey at the TCM Movie Database
- Laurence Harvey at the British Film Institute's Screenonline