Birthday: October 1, 1928
Died At Age: 45
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Laruschka Mischa Skikne
Born in: Joniškis
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Hermione Baddeley, Joan Perry, Margaret Leighton, Paulene Stone
father: Ber Skikne
mother: Ella Skikne
children: Domino Harvey
Died on: November 25, 1973
place of death: London
education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Laurence Harvey was a Lithuanian-born South African actor best known for his role in ‘Room at the Top’ which earned him an Academy Award nomination. An accomplished actor of the stage and film, he also made several television appearances in the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Lithuania, he moved to South Africa with his family when he was a young child. Having developed an early interest in acting, he served with the entertainment unit of the South African Army as a teenager during the World War II. He then moved to London on a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). The academy failed to hold his interest for long and he left after just three months to pursue a career as an actor. Talented and good looking, he was able to find roles in lower-budget movies which helped him in stabilizing his acting career. An extravagant spender from a young age, he often struggled with money issues. His appearance in ‘Women of Twilight’ gave his career a much-needed boost. Having established himself as a film actor he also ventured into Broadway. He was an internationally famous actor by the 1960s though he was also notorious for being a difficult person to work with. A heavy drinker and smoker, he became ill with cancer while still in his forties and succumbed to the disease at the peak of his career.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Laruschka Mischa Skikne on 1 October 1928, in Joniškis, Lithuania, as the youngest of three sons of Jewish parents Ella and Ber Skikne. The family travelled to South Africa when he was a young boy.
He loved acting from a young age. As a teenager, he served with the entertainment unit of the South African Army during the World War II and performed across Egypt and Italy.
Following his discharge he relocated to London as he had earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). However he did not stay there for long and left after just three months to pursue an acting career.
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Good looking and talented, he landed his first film role in the British film ‘House of Darkness’ (1948). While embarking on an acting career he adopted the screen name Laurence Harvey.
He appeared in a string of low budget films in the early 1950s including ‘Cairo Road’ (1950), ‘Women of Twilight’ (1952), ‘Knights of the Round Table’ (1953), and ‘King Richard and the Crusaders’ (1954).
By the mid 1950s he had managed to establish himself as an emerging star and was cast as the writer Christopher Isherwood in ‘I Am A Camera’ (1955), with Julie Harris. The same year he made his Broadway debut in the play ‘Island of Goats.’
In 1959, he was cast as Joe Lampton in the film ‘Room at the Top’ which paved the way for his international fame. His performance received critical praise and was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award.
He starred in the American historical-western epic film ‘The Alamo’ in 1960. He played the role of Col. William Barrett Travis, who shares command of the Alamo garrison with Col. Bowie. The same year, he also acted with Elizabeth Taylor in ‘BUtterfield 8.’
The year 1962 was a great one for the actor. He portrayed Raymond Shaw in the Cold War thriller ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, and was cast along with Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Fonda and Capucine in ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
In 1965, Laurence Harvey once again played Joe Lampton in the film ‘Life at the Top’, which was a sequel to the film ‘Room at the Top’ released in 1959. The same year, he appeared in a short role in the drama film ‘Darling’ which was nominated for five Academy Awards.
His successful career began spiraling downward in the late 1960s. While he continued appearing in films, none of them could match the success of his previous movies.
Over the course of his acting career he also made several television appearances, notably in ‘The Eamonn Andrews Show’ in the mid-1960s and in ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’ in 1971.
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His role of Joe Lampton, a young man who falls in love with an older married woman, in the film ‘Room at the Top’ is one of his most memorable ones. His poignant performance was much lauded and he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Theatre World Award in 1956.
In 1962, Laurence Harvey won the prize for best actor at the Munich film festival for his role in ‘The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.’
Personal Life & Legacy
He was thrice married. In the early 1950s he began an affair with the married actress Margaret Leighton. Following her divorce, Harvey married her in 1957. This marriage did not last long and ended in 1961.
His second marriage was to Joan Perry, a woman 17 years his senior. This marriage too ended in a divorce in 1972.
He tied the knot for the third time with British fashion model Paulene Stone, who was the mother of his daughter, Domino.
It was rumored that Harvey was gay and that his marriages were cover-ups to hide his true sexuality. British actor John Fraser claimed that Harvey had a long-term relationship with his manager James Woolf.
He was a heavy smoker and drinker. He became ill with stomach cancer and died on 25-November-1973 at the age of 45.