Michael Denison

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Michael Denison
With wife, Dulcie Gray
Born John Michael Terence Wellesley Denison
(1915-11-01)1 November 1915
Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 22 July 1998(1998-07-22) (aged 82)
Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1938–1996
Spouse(s) Dulcie Gray (1939–1998, his death)

John Michael Terence Wellesley Denison, CBE (1 November 1915 – 22 July 1998)[1] was an English actor.

Early life[edit]

Denison was born in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1915. He was brought up by his aunt and uncle from the age of three weeks, following the death of his mother and his estrangement from his father.


Denison was educated at Wellesley House School, a Preparatory school in the coastal town of Broadstairs in Kent, followed by Harrow School in North West London, where he took part in school productions. It was while at Magdalen College, Oxford University, studying modern languages that he met John Gielgud and decided to take up acting seriously.

Life and career[edit]

After graduating, Denison attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where he met Dulcie Gray, a fellow student, who later became his wife in 1939 and his acting partner. They appeared in more than 100 West End productions, together in some 28 plays in London and countless tours of Britain and elsewhere. They also appeared together in several films. Their intertwined professional lives reached their pinnacle in 1996 with their first appearance together on Broadway, in the Peter Hall production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. Their last appearance together was in Curtain Up, an evening of reminiscences at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London, shortly before he died.

Denison made his stage debut in 1938 as Lord Fancourt Babberly in a Frinton-on-Sea production of Charley's Aunt and in the same year, he made his West End appearance at the Westminster Theatre, playing Paris in Troilus and Cressida. During the Second World War, he interrupted his career to join the Royal Signals and then transferred to the Intelligence Corps and was involved in the liberation of Greece, He remained in the British Army until he was demobbed in 1946.

Denison typically played the quintessential English gentleman. He made his film debut in the film Tilly of Bloomsbury in 1940. He starred in the hit My Brother Jonathan (1948) which saw him voted the sixth most popular British star of the year.[2]

While Denison acted in only 21 films during his course of his career, these included such classics as Anthony Asquith's The Importance of Being Earnest (1952; with Michael Redgrave and Edith Evans) and Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands (1993) with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 1949 exhibitors voted him the eighth most popular British film star in the country.[3]

Denison also worked in television, taking the lead in the Associated-Rediffusion/ITV series Boyd Q.C., which ran for 78 episodes from 1957 to 1963. He became the director of the New Shakespeare Company in 1971. He also served as council and vice-president of Equity.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in February 1977 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in the foyer of the Inn on the Park in London's Park Lane; and in April 1995, when Michael Aspel surprised him and his wife Dulcie Gray, on board the Sir Thomas More motorboat at Teddington Lock, for a joint tribute.

He published two volumes of memoirs, Overture and Beginners (1973) and Double Act (1985). He also contributed many entries to the Dictionary of National Biography. Denison was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II with the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and both he and his wife were designated Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1983.

He died of cancer[4] in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, in 1998, aged 82.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Screen gent Denison dies", BBC News, 22 July 1998
  2. ^ "Wonder-boy Welles for Britain.". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 22 January 1949. p. 2 Supplement: Sunday MAGAZINE. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Bob Hope Takes Lead from Bing In Popularity.". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 31 December 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.thisisannouncements.co.uk/5849111
  5. ^ Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.

External links[edit]