Birthday: May 31, 1922
Nationality: British, Spanish
Died At Age: 70
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Denholm Mitchell Elliott
Born Country: England
Born in: Ealing, London
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Susan Robinson (m. 1962 – his death. 1992), Virginia McKenna (m. 1954 – div. 1957)
father: Myles Laymen Farr Elliott
mother: Nina Mitchell
children: Jennifer Elliott, Mark Elliott
Died on: October 6, 1992
place of death: Santa Eulària des Riu
Cause of Death: AIDS
City: London, England, Ealing, England
education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Denholm Elliott was a British actor who performed in more than 120 movies and appeared in several TV series. Elliott was best known for essaying character roles, which he performed brilliantly. Born into a family with little theatrical background, Elliott had no artistic inclinations in his childhood. In his early years, Elliott joined the ‘Royal Air Force’ of the United Kingdom. He served during the Second World War, and was imprisoned for a short period. While in the prison camp, Elliott started participating in amateur dramatics. His debut film was ‘Dear Mr. Prohack.’ Following this, he was offered small roles in several movies. He also made appearances in several TV series, such as ‘The Man in Room 17’ and ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road.’ Denholm Elliott established his position as a supporting actor when he won the ‘BAFTA Award’ for the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ in three consecutive years, one each for ‘Trading Places,’ ‘A Private Function,’ and ‘Defence of the Realm.’ He was also nominated for the ‘Academy Award’ for the movie ‘A Room with a View.’ Elliott is remembered for his portrayal of ‘Dr. Marcus Brody’ in the movies ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.’ Although Elliott never performed in a lead role in any movie, he was widely accepted as a “star among supporting players.” During the last few years of his life, he suffered from HIV. Elliott died of HIV-related tuberculosis.
Childhood & Early Life
Denholm Mitchell Elliott was born on May 31, 1922, in Ealing, Middlesex, England, to Myles Layman Farr Elliott and Nina (née Mitchell). His father was a barrister and later joined the ‘British Army.’ Myles Elliott was appointed as the solicitor-general to the ‘Mandatory Government in Palestine’ and was later assassinated as a result of a few controversial government prosecutions. Elliott had an elder brother, Neil, who was a land agent to Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck.
Elliott attended the ‘Malvern College’ and later joined the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’ in London. At the end of the first term, he was asked to leave the academy.
Elliott joined the ‘Royal Air Force’ and served during the Second World War. While participating in an air raid, his aircraft was hit by the enemy operations. Elliott remained a prisoner of war till the war ended. It was during his time in prison that Elliott started developing an interest in dramatics.
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In 1949, Denholm Elliott made his debut in movies with ‘Dear Mr. Prohack,’ which featured him as ‘Oswald Morfrey.’ During the 1950s, Elliott performed small roles in several movies, such as ‘The Heart of the Matter,’ ‘Lease of Life,’ and ‘The Night My Number Came Up.’
In 1966, Elliott performed as an abortionist in the comedy-drama movie ‘Alfie.’ The same year, he was selected for the British TV series ‘The Man in Room 17.’ The series featured him in the recurring role of ‘Imlac Defraits.’ Elliott appeared in 13 episodes of the series.
In 1970, Elliott performed in the Anglo-American war movie ‘Too Late the Hero.’ The movie was based on the events of World War II. The movie featured Elliott in the role of ‘Captain Hornsby,’ an officer known for his foolhardiness. In 1972, Elliott played the lead role in the TV play ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road.’ He portrayed ‘Jack Black,’ an actor, in the play. ‘Jack’ was portrayed as a victim of psychiatric disorders who displayed eccentric behavior. Elliott performed the part brilliantly.
In 1976, Elliott starred in the TV adaptation of the ‘The Signalman,’ a short story by Charles Dickens. It was telecast on the ‘BBC’ network. The series featured Elliott in the lead role of the signalman. His performance as a person bordering on insanity was highly applauded.
In the 1980s, Elliott won the ‘BAFTA Award’ for the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ in three consecutive years. In 1983, he won the award for his performance in the American comedy ‘Trading Places.’ The movie featured him as a butler named ‘Coleman.’ In 1984, he won the award for the portrayal of ‘Dr. Charles Swaby’ in the British comedy ‘A Private Function.’ The following year, his portrayal of ‘Vernon Bayliss’ in the thriller ‘Defence of the Realm’ brought him the coveted recognition for the third time.
In 1985, Elliott appeared as ‘Mr. Emerson’ in the movie ‘A Room with a View.’ His role in the movie was that of an upper middle-class Englishman not bound by any conservative ideals. Elliott was nominated for an ‘Academy Award’ for his convincing performance in the film.
However, ‘Dr. Marcus Brody’ was the character that made Denholm Elliott a household name. In 1981, he portrayed ‘Dr. Brody’ in the movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ His character was the colleague of the lead character of the film, ‘Indiana Jones.’ In 1989, he essayed the same role in the movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.’
In 1988, Elliott was appointed as a commander of the ‘Order of the British Empire’ in recognition of his services to the field of acting. Over the years, he played slightly eccentric characters, alcoholics, and fraudsters. In 1992, he was part of the movie ‘Noises Off,’ which marked his last movie performance. The movie featured Elliott as ‘Selsdon Mowbray,’ a character actor addicted to alcohol.
Family & Personal Life
Denholm Elliott had bisexual traits. He had married twice. In 1954, he married actor Virginia McKenna. A few years later, they divorced. The couple had no children. Elliott then married American actor Susan Robinson. His second marriage was an open marriage. The couple had two children, Mark and Jennifer.
In 1987, Elliott was diagnosed with HIV. He suffered from HIV-related complications for a long time. On October 6, 1992, Elliott died of tuberculosis at his home in Ibiza, Spain. He was 70 years old at the time of his death. His widow, Susan Robinson, published the book ‘Denholm Elliott: Quest for Love’ 2 years after his death. The book mentioned details of Elliott’s bisexuality and his open marriage to Susan.
Elliott was known for his screen-stealing abilities. Gabriel Byrne, his co-star in ‘Defence of the Realm,’ once commented, “Never act with children, dogs, or Denholm Elliott.’