Hugh Griffith

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Hugh Griffith
Hugh Griffith in Ben Hur (2).jpg
From the film Ben-Hur
BornHugh Emrys Griffith
(1912-05-30)30 May 1912
Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales
Died14 May 1980(1980-05-14) (aged 67)
London, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1939–80
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Hugh Griffith
Hugh Griffith in Ben Hur (2).jpg
From the film Ben-Hur
BornHugh Emrys Griffith
(1912-05-30)30 May 1912
Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales
Died14 May 1980(1980-05-14) (aged 67)
London, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1939–80

Hugh Emrys Griffith (30 May 1912 – 14 May 1980) was a Welsh film, stage and television actor.[1]

Early life[edit]

Griffith was born in Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales, the son of Mary and William Griffith.[2] He was educated at Llangefni County School and attempted to gain entrance to university, but failed the English examination. He was then urged to make a career in banking, becoming a bank clerk and transferring to London to be closer to acting opportunities.[3] Just as he was making progress and gained admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he had to suspend his plans in order to serve in the British Army, serving for six years with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in India and the Burma Campaign during the Second World War.[3] He resumed his acting career in 1946.

Stage career[edit]

Between 1946 and 1976, Griffith won acclaim for many stage roles, in particular for his portrayals of Falstaff, Lear and Prospero.[3] Griffith acted on both sides of the Atlantic, taking leading roles in London, New York and Stratford. In 1952 he starred in the Broadway adaption of Legend of Lovers, alongside fellow Welsh actor Richard Burton.[4] In 1958 he was back in New York, this time taking a lead role in the opening production of Look Homeward, Angel alongside Anthony Perkins.[5] Both he and Perkins were nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a play for their roles.

Film career[edit]

Griffith began his film career in British films during the late 1940s, and by the 1950s was also appearing in Hollywood films. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Ben-Hur (1959), and received a nomination for his role in Tom Jones (1963). In 1960, he appeared in an adaptation of A. J. Cronin's The Citadel, and in 1968, he appeared as the magistrate in Oliver!. His later career was often blighted by his chronic alcoholism.[6][7]

Television work[edit]

On television, he had major roles in Quatermass II (1955) and Clochemerle (1972), but is best remembered for his role as funeral director Caradog Lloyd-Evans in the 1978 comedy Grand Slam. Whilst he was visibly unwell at the time of shooting (years of alcohol abuse had clearly taken their toll), Griffith's portrayal encountered widespread acclaim and helped Grand Slam attain cult status.

Private life[edit]

Griffith married Adelgunde Margaret Beatrice von Dechend (1911–1983), a granddaughter of the Prussian banker Hermann von Dechend.

He received an honorary degree from the University of Wales, Bangor, in 1980, and died from a heart attack in London later the same year.


1940Neutral PortBituncredited
1947Silver DarlingsPackman
1948So Evil My LoveCoroner
The Three Weird SistersMabli Hughes
The First GentlemanBishop of Salisbury
London Belongs to MeHeadlam Fynne
1949A Run for Your MoneyHuw Price
Kind Hearts and CoronetsLord High Steward
The Last Days of DolwynThe Minister
Doctor MorelleBensall, the butler
1950Gone to EarthAndrew Vessons
1951The Galloping MajorHarold Temple, Process Server
Laughter in ParadiseHenry Augustus Russell
1952The Wild HeartAndrew Vessons
1953The Titfield ThunderboltDan Taylor
The Beggar's OperaThe Beggar
1954The Sleeping TigerThe Inspector
1955Passage HomePettigrew
1957The Good CompanionsMorton Mitcham
Lucky JimProfessor Welch
1959Ben-HurSheik IlderimAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Laurel Award for Top Male Supporting Performance (3rd place)
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Story on Page OneJudge Edgar Neilsen
1960The Day They Robbed the Bank of EnglandO'Shea
1962The Counterfeit TraitorCollins
The InspectorVan der Pink
Term of TrialO'Hara
Mutiny on the BountyAlexander Smith
1963Tom JonesSquire WesternLaurel Award for Top Male Supporting Performance (5th place)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated-BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1964Hide and SeekWilkins
The BargeeJoe Turnbull
1965The Amorous Adventures of Moll FlandersPrison Governor
1966How to Steal a MillionBonnet
1967Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So SadCommodore Roseabove
Brown Eye, Evil EyeTadeusz Bridges
The Sailor from GibraltarLlewellyn
On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who...Ibn-el-Rascid
1968Oliver!The MagistrateNominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
The FixerLebedevNominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1970Start the Revolution Without MeKing Louis XVI
Wuthering HeightsDr. Kenneth
Cry of the BansheeMickey
1971The Abominable Dr. PhibesRabbi
1972Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?The Pigman/Mr. Harrison
Dr. Phibes Rises AgainHarry Ambrose
The Canterbury TalesSir January
What?Joseph Noblart
1973The Final ProgrammeProfessor Hira
1974Take Me HighSir Harry Cunningham
LutherJohn Tetzel
Cugini CarnaliBarone di RoccaduraAlso screened under the names Loving Cousins, Hot and Bothered, and High School Girl
1975Legend of the WerewolfMaestro Pamponi
1976The Passover PlotCaiaphas
1977Joseph AndrewsSquire Western
The Last Remake of Beau GesteJudge
Casanova & Co.The Caliph
1978Grand SlamCaradog Lloyd-Evans
The Hound of the BaskervillesFrankland
1979A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley SquareSid Larkin

Source: "Hugh Griffith". IMDb. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, 21 May 1980.
  2. ^ "Hugh Griffith". BBC Wales Arts. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  3. ^ a b c Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines et al., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6. 
  4. ^ "Legend of Lovers". Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Look Homeward, Angel". Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (2004). "Dr. Phibes Rises Again". Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  7. ^ Turner, Robin (29 March 2009). "New book tells of Wales’ famous boozers". Western Mail ( Retrieved 2013-04-16. 

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