Nigel Green

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Nigel McGown Green
Green in trailer for "The Ipcress File" (1965)
Born (1924-10-15)15 October 1924
Pretoria, South Africa
Died 15 May 1972(1972-05-15) (aged 47)
Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK
Cause of death accidental barbiturate overdose
Years active 1952–1973
Spouse(s) Patricia Marmont
Pamela Gordon (?-1972) (his death) (1 child)

Nigel McGown Green (15 October 1924 – 15 May 1972) was a South African-born English character actor. Because of his strapping build and commanding demeanour he would often be found playing military types and men of action in such classic sixties films as Jason and the Argonauts, Zulu, Tobruk and The Ipcress File.

Early life and career[edit]

The son of a professor, Green attended King's College School, Wimbledon and the University of London followed by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During the Second World War, he trained as an Observer in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

He appeared on stage at the Old Vic before making his first forays into British films and television in the mid-1950s.

Film career[edit]

Early film roles include Reach for the Sky (1956), The Criminal (1960), The League of Gentlemen (1960), and Beat Girl (1960). His large physique led to his being cast as Little John in the film Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960).

He had one of his most memorable roles as Hercules in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) followed by his co-starring role as Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne in Zulu (1964). He had a leading role as Nayland Smith in The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) and in the supporting role of Major Dalby in The Ipcress File (also 1965) where he played the superior of Michael Caine's secret agent Harry Palmer.

Other roles include Carl Petersen in the Bulldog Drummond movie Deadlier Than the Male (1967), Count Contini in the Matt Helm film The Wrecking Crew (1969) and "Lord Ashley's Whore" in John Huston's The Kremlin Letter (1969).

His strong persona allowed him to play many military roles such as in Khartoum (1966), Tobruk (1967), Fräulein Doktor and Play Dirty (both 1969).

Green also appeared in a number of horror films including Corridors of Blood (1958), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), as the father of Jane Asher's character, The Skull (1965), Let's Kill Uncle (1966) and Countess Dracula (1971).

His last role was as "the Electric Messiah", a mental patient believing himself to be God, in The Ruling Class (1972).

Television career[edit]

Television appearances include The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Adventures of William Tell, The Other Man, Danger Man, The Power Game, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, Jason King, The Protectors and The Persuaders!.

Personal life[edit]

Green's first wife was the actress Patricia Marmont. His second wife was the actress Pamela Gordon, with whom he had one daughter.

Green died following an overdose of sleeping pills in 1972, aged 47. It is unknown if his death was intentional. Peter O'Toole said on his commentary on The Ruling Class that he believed Green was very depressed, and that his death shortly after filming ended was a suicide, although Green's family believed it to be accidental. He was separated from Gordon at the time.



  • Hall, Sheldon (2014). "Green, Nigel McGown (1924–1972)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94147. 
  • McGillivray, D. (1988). "Now you know". Films and Filming (London) 34 (April 1988): 47. ISSN 0015-167X. 

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