10 June 1908|
Yokohama, Empire of Japan
|Died||14 December 1991
London, England, UK
Robert Leadam Eddison, OBE (10 June 1908 – 14 December 1991) was an English actor, who is probably most widely remembered in the role of the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He also played Merlin in the BBC television series The Legend of King Arthur, and the tragic ferryman in The Storyteller episode "The Luck Child".
Born in Japan to English parents, Edwin Eddison and Hilda Muriel Leadham, he had a twin brother Talbot Leadam Eddison. Through his paternal grandmother, Anna Paulina Tatham of Philadelphia, he was related to the Tatham Brothers Iron pipe manufacturers of Philadelphia. As his paternal great-grandfather Henry Billington Tatham's name suggests, he was a descendant of the Billington family who came to America from England on the Mayflower.
Eddison was known for his resonant, baritone voice and long, lean figure. He performed William Shakespeare and other classics, was noted for his Hamlet at the Old Vic, and later playing the comic roles of Feste and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, and King Lear on the New York stage. He was also a familiar figure in plays by Ibsen, Chekhov, and Sophocles, and played Canon Chasuble in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
Eddison also made his mark in radio, in countless BBC dramas through the decades, with some of his last roles including Death in The Canterbury Tales and parts in an adaptation of Japanese Noh plays. His film career was limited, but included a supporting role in Peter Ustinov's 1948 comedy Vice Versa, the electrical 'Nick' in The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972), the college president in American Friends (1991), and a notable cameo in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the ancient Grail Knight, warning adventurers to choose wisely.
- Sixty Glorious Years (1938) - Lanternist Professor
- Vice Versa (1948) - Mr. Blinkhorn
- The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp (1954) - The Voice
- I Was Happy Here (1966)
- The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972) - Nick
- Knots (1975)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) - Grail Knight
- American Friends (1991) - Rushden - The President (Last appearance)
- Benedick, Adam. "Obituary: Robert Eddison." The Independent. December 16, 1991.
Hanson, Norman. Carrier Pilot [autobiography]