Sir Cedric Hardwicke
- (1893 - 1964) British actor and director, best known forhis character roles. He was celebrated on both sides of the Atlanticas the quintessential Englishman and was knighted in 1934.
Hardwicke's theatrical ambitions began in childhood, whenhe learnt pages of Shakespeare by heart. He claimed to have developed hisdistinctive voice by walking for miles on Hampstead Heath bellowing KingLear against the wind. His first appearance was in a minor role in TheMonk and the Woman (1912) at the Lyceum Theatre. After sevice in World WarI, he joined the Birmingham Repertory Company, where he enjoyed a major successin Eden Phillpotts's comedy The Farmer's Wife (1924). He went on toscore consecutive hits in the musical Show Boat (1928) at Drury Laneand the premiere of Shaw's The Apple Cart (1929) at the Malvern Festival.Shaw, who had written the part of King Magnus for him, called Hardwicke hisfifth-favourite actor "after the Marx Brothers".
From the mid 1930s Hardwicke appeared regularly in New York, where hewon rave reviews as Canon Skerritt in Shadow and Substance (1938). Hissuccess prompted a move to Hollywood, where he made a string of films duringthe war years. In 1945 he directed Gertrude Lawrence in a New York revival ofPygmalion. After a season with the Old Vic in London he returned toAmerica, spending most of the 1950s on Broadway, where he gave a highlyacclaimed performance in Don Juan in Hell (1951). His last great successwas as Koichi Asano in the love story A Majority of One, which ran for 556 performances on Broadway and later toured the states.
"I can't act," Hardwicke once claimed, "Ihave never acted. And I shall never act. What I do is to suspend myaudience's power of judgment till I've finished."