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John Gielgud (1904-2000), Actor and theatre director

Sir John Gielgud

Sitter in 119 portraits
Born into a theatrical tradition - Ellen Terry was his great aunt and his father's Polish grandmother was also an actress. He made his professional debut in 1921 at the Old Vic and it was there that his performances in Richard II and Hamlet in 1929 propelled him to fame. Gielgud's fame before the War was as a Shakespearean actor and director, skills he re-deployed in the triumphant one-man Shakespeare recital, Ages of Man, with which he toured the world in 1959. A versatile talent, he directed and played in Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not for Burning in 1949. He won an Oscar for his film role in Arthur (1981). As late as 1998 he starred in The Titchborne Claimant.