Michael Gough

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Michael Gough
Gough as Alfred.jpg
Francis Michael Gough

(1916-11-23)23 November 1916
Died17 March 2011(2011-03-17) (aged 94)
Resting placeCremated; ashes scattered in the English Channel
EducationDurham School
Alma materWye College
Old Vic
Years active1946–2010
Diana Graves
(m. 1940; div. 1948)

Anne Leon
(m. 1950; div. 1964)

Anneke Wills
(m. 1962; div. 1979)

Henrietta Lawrence
(m. 1980)

Francis Michael Gough (/ˈɡɒf/ GOF; 23 November 1916[1] – 17 March 2011) was an English character actor who made over 150 film and television appearances. He is known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from 1958, with his first role as Sir Arthur Holmwood in Dracula, and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman tetralogy. He would appear in three more Burton films: in Sleepy Hollow, voicing Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride and the Dodo in Alice in Wonderland.

Gough also appeared in popular British television shows, including Doctor Who, as the titular villain in The Celestial Toymaker (1966) and as Councillor Hedin in Arc of Infinity (1983), and the automation-obsessed, wheelchair-bound Dr. Armstrong in "The Cybernauts" (1965) in a memorable episode of The Avengers. In 1956 he received a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.[2]

At the National Theatre in London, Gough excelled as a comedian, playing a resigned and rueful parent in Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce (1977). When the comedy transferred to Broadway in 1978 he won a Tony Award. One of Gough's funniest West End roles was as Baron von Epp in the 1983 revival of John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me.[3]

Early life[edit]

Gough was born in Kuala Lumpur, Federated Malay States (now Malaysia) on 23 November 1916, the son of English parents Francis Berkeley Gough and Frances Atkins (née Bailie).[4][5][6] Gough was educated at Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells, and at Durham School. He moved on to Wye Agricultural College, which he left to go to the Old Vic.[7][8] During World War II Gough was a conscientious objector, like his friend Frith Banbury, although he was obliged to serve in the Non-Combatant Corps,[9] a member of 6 Northern Company, in Liverpool.[10]


In 1948, Gough made his film debut in Blanche Fury and thereafter, appeared extensively on British television. In 1955, he portrayed one of the two murderers who kill the Duke of Clarence (John Gielgud), as well as the Princes in the Tower in Laurence Olivier's Richard III.

He became known for his appearances in horror films; following his performance as Arthur Holmwood in Hammer’s original Dracula (1958), his horror roles mainly saw him feature as slimy villains, notably in Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), Konga (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), Black Zoo (1963), Trog (1970), The Corpse (1971), Horror Hospital (1973) and Norman J. Warren's cheaply-made Satanism shocker Satan's Slave (1976). He also spoofed his horror persona in What a Carve Up! as a sinister butler. He also appeared in the comedy film Top Secret! (1984), alongside Val Kilmer (the latter's first feature film), with whom he would also work later in the film Batman Forever.

Gough guest-starred in Doctor Who, as the titular villain in The Celestial Toymaker (1966) and also as Councillor Hedin in Arc of Infinity (1983). He also played the automation-obsessed, wheelchair-bound Dr. Armstrong in "The Cybernauts", one of the best remembered episodes of The Avengers (1965), returning the following season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in "The Correct Way to Kill". He was introduced in the first-season episode "Maximum Security" of Colditz as Major "Willi" Schaeffer, the alcoholic second-in-command of the Kommandant (Bernard Hepton). In the Ian Curteis television play Suez 1956 (1979), he portrayed Prime Minister Anthony Eden. In 1981, he was reunited with Laurence Olivier in Granada Television's Brideshead Revisited, portraying the doctor to Olivier's dying Lord Marchmain. Gough also appeared in The Citadel (1983) as Sir Jenner Halliday, in 1985's Out of Africa as Lord Delamere and as the fictional deposed KGB spymaster Andrei Zorin in Sleepers.

Later roles[edit]

His later roles included Alfred Pennyworth for Tim Burton, including Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). He also reprised his role as Alfred in the 1994 BBC radio adaptation of Batman: Knightfall and in Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) for Joel Schumacher. Gough was one of two actors to have appeared in the four Batman films in the Burton/Schumacher series, the other being Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon. Gough worked for Burton again in 1999's Sleepy Hollow and Corpse Bride. He also briefly reprised his Alfred role in six 2001 television commercials for the OnStar automobile tracking system, informing Batman of the system's installation in the Batmobile. Other commercial appearances famously included Gough as Alfred in a 1989 advertisement for Diet Coke.

Gough retired in 1999 after appearing in Burton's Sleepy Hollow. He would emerge from retirement twice more, both as a favour to Burton, to voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride and the Dodo in Alice in Wonderland.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Gough was married four times, one of his ex-wives is Anne Elizabeth Leon (born 1925). They married in 1950, their daughter Emma Frances was born in 1953 and they divorced in 1964.[6] Another ex-wife is Doctor Who actress Anneke Wills, who portrayed the Doctor's companion Polly. Wills and Gough met at various times during her life, firstly during a theatre trip with her mother in 1952, but they first met formally on the set of Candidate for Murder and the attraction was instant. Gough adopted Wills' daughter Polly and in 1965, their son Jasper was born.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Gough won Broadway's 1979 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role – Play) for Bedroom Farce. He was also nominated in the same category in 1988 for Breaking the Code.

In 1957 he won a BAFTA TV Award and in 1971, was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for his work in The Go-Between.

He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play in 1979 for Bedroom Farce and again in 1988 for Breaking the Code.


Gough died from pneumonia aged 94 on 17 March 2011 at his home in Salisbury, Wiltshire, having also been ill with prostate cancer for the previous year.[12] A memorial service was held, he was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in the English Channel.

He was survived by his fourth wife Henrietta, daughter Emma and sons Simon (who is married to actress Sharon Gurney, the daughter of the Upstairs, Downstairs actress Rachel Gurney) and Jasper.[13] Michael Keaton, his co-star in the first two theatrical Batman films, said that Gough was sweet and charming, and wrote, "To Mick – my butler, my confidant, my friend, my Alfred. I love you. God bless. Michael (Mr Wayne) Keaton."[14]

Gough was added in In Memoriam at the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards.


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Anna Karenina Nicholai
1948 Blanche Fury Laurence Fury
1948 Saraband for Dead Lovers Prince Charles
1949 The Small Back Room Capt. Dick Stuart
1950 Ha'penny Breeze Uncredited
1951 Blackmailed Maurice Edwards
1951 No Resting Place Alec Kyle
1951 The Man in the White Suit Michael Corland
1951 Night Was Our Friend Martin Raynor
1953 Twice Upon a Time Mr. Lloyd
1953 The Sword and the Rose Duke of Buckingham
1953 Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue Duke of Montrose
1955 Richard III Dighton, the first murderer
1956 Reach for the Sky Flying Instructor Pearson
1957 Ill Met by Moonlight Andoni Zoidakis
1957 The House in the Woods Geoffrey Carter
1958 Dracula Arthur Holmwood
1958 The Horse's Mouth Abel
1959 Model for Murder Kingsley Beauchamp
1959 Horrors of the Black Museum Edmond Bancroft
1961 Konga Dr. Charles Decker
1961 Mr. Topaze Tamise
1961 What a Carve Up! Fisk, the butler
1962 Candidate for Murder Donald Edwards
1962 The Phantom of the Opera Ambrose D'Arcy
1963 Black Zoo Michael Conrad
1963 Tamahine Cartwright
1965 Game for Three Losers Robert Hilary
1965 Dr. Terror's House of Horrors Eric Landor (segment "Disembodied Hand")
1965 The Skull Auctioneer
1966 Alice in Wonderland March Hare
1966 Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker Celestial Toymaker 4 episodes
1967 They Came from Beyond Space Master of the Moon
1967 Berserk! Albert Dorando
1968 One Night... A Train Jeremiah
1968 Curse of the Crimson Altar Elder Also known as The Crimson Cult
1969 A Walk with Love and Death Mad Monk
1969 Women in Love Tom Brangwen
1970 Julius Caesar Metellus Cimber
1970 Trog Sam Murdock
1971 The Go-Between Mr. Maudsley
1971 The Corpse Walter Eastwood Also known as Crucible of Horror
1972 Savage Messiah M. Gaudier
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Norfolk
1973 Horror Hospital Dr. Christian Storm
1973 The Legend of Hell House Emeric Belasco Uncredited
1974 QB VII Dr. Fletcher
1975 Galileo Sagredo
1975 The Man from Nowhere Man Voice, Uncredited
1976 Satan's Slave Uncle Alexander Yorke
1978 The Boys from Brazil Mr. Harrington
1978 L'Amour en question Sir Baldwin
1979 Suez 1956 Anthony Eden
1981 Venom David Ball
1982 Smiley's People Mikhel
1982 Inside the Third Reich Dr. Rust
1983 Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity Councillor Hedin 3 episodes
1983 To the Lighthouse Mr Ramsay
1983 The Dresser Frank Carrington
1984 Memed My Hawk Kerimoglu
1984 Top Secret! Dr. Paul Flammond
1984 Oxford Blues Doctor Ambrose
1984 A Christmas Carol Mr. Poole
1985 Arthur the King Archbishop
1985 Out of Africa Baron Delamere
1986 Caravaggio Cardinal Del Monte
1986 The Little Vampire Uncle Ludwig
1987 Maschenka Vater
1987 Inspector Morse: The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn Philip Ogleby
1987 The Fourth Protocol Sir Bernard Hemmings
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow Schoonbacher
1989 Strapless Douglas Brodie
1989 Batman Alfred Pennyworth
1989 Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome Voice
1990 The Garden
1991 Let Him Have It Lord Goddard
1992 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Russia 1910 Leo Tolstoy
1992 Batman Returns Alfred Pennyworth
1993 Wittgenstein Bertrand Russell
1993 The Age of Innocence Henry van der Luyden
1993 The Hour of the Pig Magistrate Boniface
1994 Uncovered Don Manuel
1994 Nostradamus Jean de Remy
1995 Batman Forever Alfred Pennyworth
1997 Batman & Robin
1998 What Rats Won't Do Justice Tomlin
1998 St. Ives Comte de Saint-Yves
1999 The Cherry Orchard Feers
1999 Sleepy Hollow Notary Hardenbrook
1999 The Strange Case of Delphina Potocka or The Mystery of Chopin The Doctor
2005 Corpse Bride Elder Gutknecht Voice
2010 Alice in Wonderland Uilleam the Dodo Bird Voice;
final film role


  1. ^ Gough in the London Times, 23 June 1997: "There was some indecision as to when I was born. My sister said it was 1916. I'd lost my birth certificate." Gough's wife Henrietta confirmed 1916 (and not 1915) as her husband's birth year in 2010 (see Christian Heger: Mondbeglänzte Zaubernächte. Das Kino von Tim Burton. Marburg 2010).
  2. ^ "BAFTA Award: Actor in 1956". BAFTA. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Michael Gough obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Michael Gough profile". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  5. ^ Michael Gough profile, Yahoo! Movies; accessed 2 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b "- Person Page 18350". thepeerage.com.
  7. ^ "Michael Gough". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 November 2009. Education: Wye Agricultural College, England; Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, England, Major – drama; Durham School, England; Rose Hill School, Kent, England
  8. ^ Eric Shorter (17 March 2011). "Michael Gough obituary". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2011. Michael Gough, actor, born 23 November 1916; died 17 March 2011 ... He was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, where his father was a rubber planter. After attending Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells, and Durham School, he dropped out of Wye Agricultural College in Kent in order to study acting at the Old Vic.
  9. ^ Read, Piers Paul (2005). Alec Guinness: the authorised biography. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-4498-5.
  10. ^ Starkey, Pat (1992). I will not fight: conscientious objectors and pacifists in the North West during the Second World War. Liverpool Historical Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-0-85323-467-8.
  11. ^ "Michael Gough, 94, was butler Alfred in “Batman”[dead link]". bcdb.com, 17 March 2011
  12. ^ Eric Shorter Obituary: Michael Gough, The Guardian, 17 March 2011
  13. ^ "Michael Gough, Batman's Alfred, dies aged 94". BBC News. 17 March 2011.
  14. ^ Mike Moody. "Michael Keaton praises Michael Gough". Digital Spy.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Alan Napier
Alfred Pennyworth Actor
1989 - 1997
Succeeded by
Michael Caine