Ronald Lewis (actor)
|Died||11 January 1982 (aged 53)|
|Cause of death||Overdose|
Birth and career
Lewis was born in Port Talbot, Glamorgan. He moved with his family to London when he was seven. During the war he was evacuated back to south Wales, where he attended Bridgend Grammar School. There he played Bassanio in the school production of The Merchant of Venice.
He had uncredited bit in Valley of Song, set in Wales. He was credited for the film version of The Square Ring (1953), for Ealing; The Beachcomber (1954), as a native islander; The Face of Love (1954) for the BBC; and Fantastic Summer (1955) for TV. He had a larger part in Helen of Troy (1955) as Aeneas. and provided some romantic interest in The Prisoner (1955), with Alec Guinness.
Rise to stardom
Lewis achieved attention with his stage performance in Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Peter Hall (1955). This led to Alexander Korda signing Lewis to a contract with London films and giving him a role in Storm Over the Nile (1956), as one of the main group of friends.
Rank tried to build Lewis into a star, giving him the lead in a thriller, The Secret Place (1957), alongside Belinda Lee. On British TV he was in Salome (1957), El Bandido and the TV series Hour of Mystery in an adaption of Night Must Fall. He appeared regularly in Armchair Theatre over fifteen years and other British anthology dramas.
Lewis had leading roles in Conspiracy of Hearts (1960) for Rank, playing an Italian officer helping some nuns, and The Full Treatment (1960) for Hammer, directed by Val Guest. Hammer kept him on for another thriller, Taste of Fear (1961), which was a big hit. So too was Mr. Sardonicus (1961) made for William Castle.
Lewis had support roles in Billy Budd (1962) and was the romantic lead to star Juliet Mills in the comedy Nurse on Wheels (1963), made by the Carry On team. He had the star role in two costume pictures, Siege of the Saxons (1963) and Hammer's The Brigand of Kandahar (1965).
His image suffered in 1965 when, while he was appearing in Peter Pan on stage (as Hook), his wife alleged he had assaulted her. Lewis failed to turn up at court and a warrant was issued for his arrest, although there seems to be no reference to this incident on the Internet.
He focused on stage work in productions such as Raymond and Agnes (1965).
Lewis was a regular in the TV series His and Hers (1970–72). Apart from a role in Friends (1971) and its sequel Paul and Michelle (1974), his final credits were in TV: Tales of Unease (1970), Hine (1971), The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1973), Harriet's Back in Town (1973), Nightingale's Boys (1975), Public Eye (1975), and Crown Court (1974–75).
He was meant to be First Voice in a production of Under Milk Wood at Theatr Gwynedd in 1975. He stopped drinking to prepare himself for the role, but wound up having a heart attack on opening night. He kept working on TV for a time in series like Big Boy Now! (1976), Warship (1977), The XYY Man (1977) and Z Cars (1978). In 1981 he was declared bankrupt with debts of £21,188.
In Twice Round the Daffodils (1962), Lewis had appeared alongside Kenneth Williams, who later committed suicide. When Lewis committed suicide by taking a barbiturate overdose at a boarding house in Pimlico, Williams recorded in his diary entry for 12 January 1982: "The paper says Ronald Lewis has taken an overdose! He was declared bankrupt last year! Obviously nobody offered him work & he was driven to despair. I remember Ronnie... and that drinking session at the White Horse all those years ago... he was a kind boy & people used him. He was 53."
- Valley of Song (1953)
- The Square Ring (1953)
- The Beachcomber (1954)
- The Prisoner (1955)
- Storm Over the Nile (1955)
- Helen of Troy (1956)
- Sailor Beware! (1956)
- A Hill in Korea (1956)
- The Secret Place (1957)
- Robbery Under Arms (1957)
- The Wind Cannot Read (1958)
- Bachelor of Hearts (1958)
- Conspiracy of Hearts (1960)
- The Full Treatment (1960)
- Taste of Fear (1961)
- Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
- Twice Round the Daffodils (1962)
- Jigsaw (1962)
- Billy Budd (1962)
- Nurse on Wheels (1963)
- Siege of the Saxons (1963)
- The Brigand of Kandahar (1965)
- Friends (1971)
- The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Anonymous Letters (1973)
- Paul and Michelle (1974)
- Crown Court (1974–75) (TV series)
- Big Boy Now! (1976) (TV series)
- The XYY Man (1977) (TV series)
- Brian McFarlane; British Film Institute (2005). The encyclopedia of British film. Methuen. p. 415.
- "Ronald Lewis". BFI.
- "Ronald Allen — RADA". www.rada.ac.uk.
- By THOMAS M PRYOR Special to The New York Times. (1954, Apr 30). BELAFONTE SIGNS TO STAR IN FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/112934554
- "The Prisoner (1955) - Peter Glenville | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
- Hope-Wallace, P. (1955, Jun 11). "MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA". The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/479852000
- By, S. W. (1955, Sep 25). OBSERVATIONS ON THE BRITISH SCREEN SCENE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/113205684
- N, S. (1956, Mar 20). NEW COMEDY BY NOEL COWARD. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/479859334
- BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 28 Dec 1956: 3
- "A Hill in Korea (1956) - Julian Amyes | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
- "The Secret Place (1957)". BFI.
- Thorns, A. (1958, Sep 03). POLISH FILM-MAKERS TURN TO SATIRE. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/480352785
- Hope-Wallace, P. (1958, Nov 13). FLORA ROBSON IN IBSEN'S "GHOSTS". The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/480364522
- "A BACHELOR OF HEARTS". The Australian Women's Weekly. 26, (34). Australia, Australia. 28 January 1959. p. 48. Retrieved 25 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- BLAND, A. (1958, Dec 28). Snowflakes. The Observer (1901- 2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/475401077
- "Twice Round the Daffodils (1962) - Gerald Thomas | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
- "Jigsaw (1962)". BFI.
- "Billy Budd (1962)". BFI.
- "Nurse on Wheels (1963) - Gerald Thomas | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
- "Siege of the Saxons (1963) - Nathan Juran | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
- "The Brigand of Kandahar (1965) - John Gilling | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
- Hope-Wallace, P. (1965, Dec 18). PETER PAN at the scala theatre. The Guardian (1959-2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/185123323
- "Ronald Lewis". www.aveleyman.com.
- "Cinema | The Actors' Crucible". Wales Arts Review. 18 March 2016.
- OBITUARY. (1982, Jan 12). The Guardian (1959-2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/186370311
- Spignesi, Stephen J. (2001). The Hollywood Book of Lists: From Great Performances and Romantic Epics to Bad Remakes and Miscasting Debacles. Kensington Publishing Corporation. p. 127. ISBN 978-0806522128.
- The Kenneth Williams Diaries, edited by Russell Davies, published 1993 by Harper Collins