GC's Career


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Born. 1 October 1903, Manchester, England.
Died. 25 April 1989, Hampstead, London, England

Short Biography

[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 1986.

Married:

1. Louise Franklin 1930 - 1976

2. Elizabeth Donaldson 1977-1989


Award:

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.


Theatre performances

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.


Film performances

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.

  1. Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985) (mini) TV Series .... DeBono
  2. Vivement dimanche! (1983) .... Lablache
    ... aka Confidentially Yours (1983) (USA)
    ... aka Finally, Sunday (1983)
  3. Long Good Friday, The (1980) .... Gus
  4. "Doombolt Chase, The" (1978) TV Series .... Commander Wheeler
  5. Ritz, The (1976) .... Old Man Vespucci
  6. Shout at the Devil (1976) .... El Keb
  7. Anticristo, L' (1974) .... Father Mittner
    ... aka Antichrist, The (1974) (International: English title: informal literal title)
    ... aka Tempter, The (1974) (USA)
  8. Mahler (1974) .... Doctor Roth
  9. Percy's Progress (1974) .... Professor Godowski
    ... aka It's Not the Size That Counts (1974) (USA)
  10. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) .... Dr. Constantine
  11. Final Programme, The (1973) .... Dr. Powys
    ... aka Last Days of Man on Earth, The (1973) (USA)
  12. Papillon (1973) .... Doctor Chatal
  13. Coffee, Tea or Me? (1973) (TV) .... Doctor
  14. Stranger, The (1973) (TV) .... Max Greene
    ... aka Stranded in Space (1973) (TV)
  15. "Clouds of Witness" (1972) (mini) TV Series .... Mr. Grimthorpe
    ... aka "Lord Peter Wimsey: Clouds of Witness" (1972) (mini)
  16. 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)
  17. Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) .... Prof. Berrigan
  18. No Blade of Grass (1970) .... Mr. Sturdevant
  19. Assassination Bureau, The (1969) .... Swiss Peasant
  20. Land Raiders (1969) .... Cardenas
    ... aka Day of the Landgrabber, The (1969)
  21. I Love You, I Hate You (1968) .... Police Inspector
    ... aka Other People, The (1968)
    ... aka Sleep Is Lovely (1968)
  22. Koroshi (1966) (TV) .... Controller
    ... aka Danger Man: Koroshi (1966) (TV) (UK: series title)
  23. Too Many Thieves (1966)
  24. Arabesque (1966) .... Ragheeb
  25. Crooked Road, The (1965) .... Carlo
    ... aka Krivi put (1965) (Yugoslavia: Serbian title)
  26. Skull, The (1965) .... Dr. Londe
  27. In the Cool of the Day (1963)
  28. Boy Who Stole a Million, The (1961) .... Bank manager
  29. Fury at Smugglers Bay (1961) .... FranÁois LeJeune
  30. King of Kings (1961) .... Camel Driver
  31. "Pathfinders to Venus" (1961) TV Series .... Harcourt Brown
  32. Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons (1960) .... Lacoste
  33. Surprise Package (1960) .... Dr. Hugo Panzer
  34. Conspiracy of Hearts (1960) .... Petrelli
  35. Son of Robin Hood, The (1959) .... Alan A. Dale
  36. I Accuse! (1958) .... Colonel Sandherr
  37. Law and Disorder (1958) .... Bennie
  38. Spy in the Sky! (1958) .... Col. Benedict
  39. No Time to Die (1958) .... Camp Commandant
    ... aka Tank Force (1958) (USA)
  40. Kill Me Tomorrow (1957) .... Heinz Webber
  41. Man Without a Body, The (1957) .... Dr. Karl Brussard
  42. Seven Thunders (1957) .... Bourdin
    ... aka Beasts of Marseilles, The (1957) (USA)
  43. Womaneater (1957) .... Dr. James Moran
    ... aka Woman Eater (1959) (USA)
  44. Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957) .... Carl Kraski
  45. Doctor at Large (1957) .... Pascoe
  46. Big Money, The (1956) .... The Colonel
  47. Private's Progress (1956) .... Padre
  48. Doctor at Sea (1955) .... Carpenter
  49. Doctor in the House (1954) .... Briggs
  50. Duel in the Jungle (1954) .... Captain Malburn
  51. Mask of Dust (1954) .... 'Pic' Dallapiccola
    ... aka Race for Life (1954) (USA: reissue title)
  52. Teckman Mystery, The (1954) .... Garvin
  53. Runaway Bus, The (1954) .... Ernest Schroeder
  54. Heart of the Matter, The (1954) .... Portuguese captain
  55. Day to Remember, A (1953) .... The Captain
  56. Dog and the Diamonds, The (1953) .... Forbes
  57. Venetian Bird (1952) .... Chief of Police Spadoni
    ... aka Assassin, The (1952) (USA)
    ... aka El AlamÈin (1952)
  58. Outcast of the Islands (1952) .... Babalatchi
  59. Appointment with Venus (1951) .... Captain Weiss
    ... aka Island Rescue (1951) (USA)
  60. Kill or Be Killed (1950) .... Victor Sloma
  61. Beyond Glory (1948) .... Lew Proctor
  62. Sleep, My Love (1948) .... Charles Vernay
  63. Southern Yankee, A (1948) .... Major Jack Drumman
    ... aka My Hero (1948) (UK)
  64. Joan of Arc (1948) .... Sir Robert de Baudricourt
  65. Mr. District Attorney (1947) .... James Randolph
    ... aka District Attorney (1947)
  66. Where There's Life (1947) .... Krivoc
  67. California (1946) .... Captain Pharaoh Coffin
  68. Verdict, The (1946) .... Superintendent John R. Buckley
  69. Nobody Lives Forever (1946) .... Doc Ganson
  70. Hotel Berlin (1945) .... Joachim Helm
  71. Lady on a Train (1945) .... Mr. Saunders
  72. Confidential Agent (1945) .... Captain Currie
  73. Song to Remember, A (1945) .... Louis Pleyel
  74. Master Race, The (1944) .... Col. Friedrich Von Beck
  75. None But the Lonely Heart (1944) .... Jim Mordinoy
  76. Mr. Skeffington (1944) .... Doctor Byles
  77. Between Two Worlds (1944) .... Lingley
  78. Assignment in Brittany (1943) .... Captain Hans Holz
  79. Watch on the Rhine (1943) .... Teck de Brancovis
  80. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) .... AndrÈ Massart
  81. This Land Is Mine (1943) .... Prosecuting Attorney
  82. Citizen Kane (1941) .... Walter Parks Thatcher
  83. Lady in Question, The (1940) .... Defense Attorney
  84. All This, and Heaven Too (1940) .... Charpentier
  85. Christopher Bean (1933) .... Tallent
    ... aka Her Sweetheart, Christopher Bean (1933)
    ... aka Late Christopher Bean, The (1933) (UK)

Radio work

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
Dracula
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

Rebecca
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 Database ]

  1. "Prisoner, The" (1967) playing "Chessmaster / Man With The Stick" in episode: "Checkmate" (episode # 1.9) 12/3/1967, see also.
  2. "Dundee and the Culhane" (1967) in episode: "3:10 to a Lynching Brief, The" (episode # 1.9) 11/8/1967
  3. "R3" (1964) playing "Professor Vergas" in episode: "Forum, The" (episode # 1.7) 1965
  4. "Doctor Who" (1963) playing "Arbitan" in episode: "Keys of Marinus, The" (episode # 1.5) 4/11/1964
  5. "Crane" (1962) playing "Dr Jackson" in episode: "Case of Dolls, A" 1963
  6. "Man of the World" (1962) playing "Gomez" in episode: "Masquerade in Spain" 1962
  7. Pathfinders to Mars" (1962), ABC Television
  8. "Danger Man" (1960) playing "Police Commisioner" in episode: "Brothers, The" (episode # 1.25) 1961
  9. "Hancock's Half Hour", BBC, playing "Mr. W. Proctor" in episode "The Missing Page", March 1960
  10. "Philco Television Playhouse, The" (1948) in episode: "Inspector Calls, An" (episode # 1.8) 11/21/1948

Other lists


Compiled by George Coulouris jr, December 2000, updated January 2004