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- Born. 1 October 1903, Manchester, England.
- Died. 25 April 1989, Hampstead, London, England
[Written in June 1995 for the Internet Movie Database by George
Coulouris and Mary Louise Coulouris. Links to relevant photographs, reviews and theatre programmes have been added.]
Son of a Greek immigrant father (merchant) and English mother, he was born in Salford, Manchester and educated Manchester Grammar School. George Coulouris was an actor of some force specialising in villains, particularly in his film roles, but quite able for nobler roles. Among the major films he appeared in were 'Citizen Kane', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'I Accuse', 'Pappillon' and 'Murder on the Orient Express'. The film which established him as an interesting and reliable heavy, with his massive shoulders and hooded eyes, was 'Watch on the Rhine' (1943). However, he had worked in Hollywood before that through his meeting with Orson Welles.
Coulouris studied with Elsie Fogerty at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. His London debut came in 1925 with 'Henry V' at the Old Vic. He was soon playing the Yank at the first British staging of Eugene O'Neill's 'The Hairy Ape'. By 1929 he had reached Broadway, via a modern dress version of 'Measure for Measure'; his stage part as Tallant in the 'The Late Christopher Bean' took him to Hollywood in 1933 for MGM's version.
The next milestone in his burgeoning career occurred when he was playing a piece called 'Ten Million Ghosts' and met an actor called Orson Welles. They got on well and he joined the Welles' Mercury Theatre, playing Mark Anthony in the famous modern dress production of 'Julius Caesar' (1937). When Welles went to Hollywood to make 'Citizen Kane', Coulouris climbed into movie history in the part of Walter Parks Thatcher. By that time his future as a cinema actor was assured and he went on to play character parts in a long string of Hollywood productions throughout the 1940s.
At the end of the 1940s Coulouris returned to live in England, joining the Bristol Old Vic where he was notable as Tartuffe, transferring to London. In the '50s and '60s George remained a stalwart stage actor in spite of his movie reputation. He liked nothing better than to grapple with Ibsen, Shaw, Strindberg, Moliere or Shakespeare. During these years he tackled Dr. Stockman in Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People', Peter Flynn in O'Casey's 'The Plough and the Stars', the father in Sartre's 'Altona', Edgar in Strindberg's 'The Dance of Death' and Big Daddy in Tennessee William's 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'.
All of these are parts to swell a scene and Coulouris had the flourish to fill them, sometimes to overflowing, always compellingly. In Britain his film parts tended towards the mundane, though he rose to the occasion as the native Babalatchi in Carol Reed's 'An Outcast of the Islands' and seized rare chances to play comedy in 'Doctor in the House' (1953), 'Doctor at Sea' (1956) and the Frankie Howard vehicle 'The Runaway Bus (1954).
Towards the end of his life he tried his hand at writing and
produced some charming memoirs describing his early life in Manchester
and his early stage experiences, as yet unpublished except for
a vivid excerpt published in the Guardian newspaper in February
1. Louise Franklin 1930 - 1976
- Two children:
- George Franklin, born 1937, a computer science professor
living and working in London.
- Mary Louise, born 1939, a practising artist living and working
2. Elizabeth Donaldson 1977-1989
George won a National Board of Review 'Best Actor' award in 1941 for his performance in Citizen Kane. Orson Welles was the only other Citizen Kane actor to win the same award.
Click here for a comprehensive list of his 80+ stage performances, annotated with links to reviews, photos and programmes where they are available.
His early career (1926-1929) in London and at the Cambridge Festival Theatre is documented in this summary donated by Paul Cornwell. He left for the US in 1929 after meeting Louise.
This 1972 Who's Who in the Theatre entry contains a fairly complete list from 1929 onwards.
The Internet Broadway Data Base has details of most the shows he did in New York.
Click here for a comprehensive list of his 75+ film performances. The list was prepared during is lifetime.
Here is a similar listing from the Internet Movie Database, click on a title to see the details of each film.
- Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985) (mini) TV Series .... DeBono
- Vivement dimanche! (1983) ....
... aka Confidentially Yours (1983) (USA)
... aka Finally, Sunday (1983)
- Long Good Friday, The (1980)
- "Doombolt Chase, The"
(1978) TV Series .... Commander Wheeler
- Ritz, The (1976) .... Old Man
- Shout at the Devil (1976) ....
- Anticristo, L' (1974) .... Father
... aka Antichrist, The (1974) (International: English title:
informal literal title)
... aka Tempter, The (1974) (USA)
- Mahler (1974) .... Doctor Roth
- Percy's Progress (1974) ....
... aka It's Not the Size That Counts (1974) (USA)
- Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
.... Dr. Constantine
- Final Programme, The (1973)
.... Dr. Powys
... aka Last Days of Man on Earth, The (1973) (USA)
- Papillon (1973) .... Doctor
- Coffee, Tea or Me? (1973) (TV)
- Stranger, The (1973) (TV) ....
... aka Stranded in Space (1973) (TV)
- "Clouds of Witness" (1972)
(mini) TV Series .... Mr. Grimthorpe
... aka "Lord Peter Wimsey: Clouds of Witness" (1972)
- Horror of Snape Island (1972)
.... John Gurney
... aka Beyond the Fog (1972) (USA: reissue title)
... aka Horror on Snape Island (1972)
... aka Tower of Evil (1972) (USA: reissue title)
- Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
.... Prof. Berrigan
- No Blade of Grass (1970) ....
Bureau, The (1969) .... Swiss Peasant
- Land Raiders (1969) .... Cardenas
... aka Day of the Landgrabber, The (1969)
- I Love You, I Hate You (1968)
.... Police Inspector
... aka Other People, The (1968)
... aka Sleep Is Lovely (1968)
- Koroshi (1966) (TV) .... Controller
... aka Danger Man: Koroshi (1966) (TV) (UK: series title)
- Too Many Thieves (1966)
- Arabesque (1966) .... Ragheeb
- Crooked Road, The (1965) ....
... aka Krivi put (1965) (Yugoslavia: Serbian title)
- Skull, The (1965) .... Dr. Londe
- In the Cool of the Day (1963)
- Boy Who Stole a Million, The (1961)
.... Bank manager
- Fury at Smugglers Bay (1961) .... FranÁois LeJeune
- King of Kings (1961) .... Camel
- "Pathfinders to Venus"
(1961) TV Series .... Harcourt Brown
- Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons (1960)
- Surprise Package (1960) ....
Dr. Hugo Panzer
- Conspiracy of Hearts (1960)
- Son of Robin
Hood, The (1959) .... Alan A. Dale
- I Accuse! (1958) .... Colonel
- Law and Disorder (1958) ....
- Spy in the Sky! (1958) ....
- No Time to Die (1958) .... Camp
... aka Tank Force (1958) (USA)
- Kill Me Tomorrow (1957) ....
- Man Without a Body, The (1957)
.... Dr. Karl Brussard
- Seven Thunders (1957) .... Bourdin
... aka Beasts of Marseilles, The (1957) (USA)
- Womaneater (1957) .... Dr. James
... aka Woman Eater (1959) (USA)
- Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957)
.... Carl Kraski
- Doctor at Large (1957) ....
- Big Money, The (1956) .... The
- Private's Progress (1956) ....
- Doctor at Sea (1955) .... Carpenter
- Doctor in the House (1954) ....
- Duel in the Jungle (1954) ....
- Mask of Dust (1954) .... 'Pic'
... aka Race for Life (1954) (USA: reissue title)
- Teckman Mystery, The (1954)
- Runaway Bus, The (1954) ....
- Heart of the Matter, The (1954)
.... Portuguese captain
- Day to Remember, A (1953) ....
- Dog and the Diamonds, The (1953)
- Venetian Bird (1952) .... Chief
of Police Spadoni
... aka Assassin, The (1952) (USA)
... aka El AlamÈin (1952)
- Outcast of the Islands (1952)
- Appointment with Venus (1951)
.... Captain Weiss
... aka Island Rescue (1951) (USA)
- Kill or Be Killed (1950) ....
- Beyond Glory
(1948) .... Lew Proctor
- Sleep, My Love (1948) .... Charles
- Southern Yankee, A (1948) ....
Major Jack Drumman
... aka My Hero (1948) (UK)
- Joan of Arc (1948) .... Sir
Robert de Baudricourt
- Mr. District Attorney (1947)
.... James Randolph
... aka District Attorney (1947)
- Where There's Life (1947) ....
- California (1946) .... Captain
- Verdict, The (1946) .... Superintendent
John R. Buckley
- Nobody Lives Forever (1946)
.... Doc Ganson
- Hotel Berlin (1945) .... Joachim
- Lady on a Train (1945) ....
- Confidential Agent (1945) ....
- Song to Remember, A (1945) ....
- Master Race, The (1944) ....
Col. Friedrich Von Beck
- None But the Lonely Heart (1944)
.... Jim Mordinoy
- Mr. Skeffington (1944) ....
- Between Two Worlds (1944) ....
- Assignment in Brittany (1943)
.... Captain Hans Holz
- Watch on the Rhine (1943) ....
Teck de Brancovis
- For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) .... AndrÈ Massart
- This Land Is Mine (1943) ....
- Citizen Kane (1941) .... Walter
- Lady in Question, The (1940)
.... Defense Attorney
- All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
Bean (1933) .... Tallent
... aka Her Sweetheart, Christopher Bean (1933)
... aka Late Christopher Bean, The (1933) (UK)
George performed in many radio plays. The RadioGold Index lists 44 shows that he did in the U.S. before 1949.
After 1949 he performed in many plays and did several talks and interviews for the BBC, but the BBC Archives at the British Library are rather impenetrable. The most significant item is probably the series of three talks entitled "To Hollywood and Back" that he did on the BBC Home Service in 1962:
- The transcript of these talks is available here.
- A nice review in the Sunday Times is here.
Full-length recordings of most of the radio dramas broadcast by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre Company during 1938 are available (and apparently copyright-free):
- To download (slow) from: www.unknown.nu
- On a single CD in MP3 format to buy for only $8 from: www.40sradio.us
The recordings are of surprisingly good quality, as are the productions - good entertainment value today! George Coulouris features in:
- Julius Caesar
- Broadcast (1938-9-11) by the original cast of the Broadway production
- This is a recording of a rehearsal with a few interjected directions, but they'd been performing it on the stage for several weeks and the acting is excellent). We have an excerpt of George doing "Friends, Romans, countrymen ..." Click here hear it.
- A Passenger to Bali
- Broadcast 1938-11-13
- Broadcast 1938-7-11
- Treasure Island
- Broadcast 1938-7-18
- Abraham Lincoln
- Broadcast 1938-8-15
- The Man Who Was Thursday
- Broadcast 1938-9-5
- The Heart of Darkness
- Broadcast 1938-11-6
- Life with Father
- Broadcast 1938-11-6
Orson Welles' Campbell Playhouse 1939-40
- Broadcast 1938-12-09 (script from Daphne du Maurier's book)
- The Count Of Monte Cristo
- Broadcast 1939-10-1
- A Christmas Carol
- Broadcast 1939-12-24
- Peter Ibbetson
- Broadcast 1939-9-10
Notable TV guest appearances
There is no complete listing of his TV work. Here is a list of some work done after 1964. Some earlier work is below.
[From the Internet Movie
- "Prisoner, The" (1967)
playing "Chessmaster / Man With The
Stick" in episode: "Checkmate"
(episode # 1.9) 12/3/1967, see
- "Dundee and the Culhane"
(1967) in episode: "3:10 to a
Lynching Brief, The" (episode # 1.9) 11/8/1967
- "R3" (1964) playing "Professor Vergas" in episode: "Forum, The" (episode
# 1.7) 1965
- "Doctor Who" (1963)
playing "Arbitan" in
episode: "Keys of Marinus, The" (episode
# 1.5) 4/11/1964
- "Crane" (1962) playing "Dr Jackson" in
episode: "Case of Dolls, A" 1963
- "Man of the World" (1962)
playing "Gomez" in
episode: "Masquerade in Spain" 1962
- Pathfinders to Mars" (1962), ABC Television
- "Danger Man" (1960)
playing "Police Commisioner"
in episode: "Brothers, The"
(episode # 1.25) 1961
- "Hancock's Half Hour", BBC, playing "Mr. W. Proctor" in episode "The Missing Page", March 1960
- "Philco Television Playhouse,
The" (1948) in episode: "Inspector
Calls, An" (episode # 1.8) 11/21/1948
Compiled by George
Coulouris jr, December 2000, updated January 2004