Tom Conti Biography

Tom Conti is one of the most popular Scottish actors of the 20th century. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: November 22, 1941

Nationality: Scottish

Famous: Actors Scottish Men

Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Also Known As: Thomas Antonio Conti

Born in: Paisley, Scotland

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Kara Wilson (1967–present)

father: Alfonso Conti

mother: Mary Conti

children: Nina Conti

City: Paisley, Scotland

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Tom Conti is one of the most popular Scottish actors of the 20th century who has made his mark in all forms of entertainment, be it films, television or stage. In his four decades and counting career, he has adorned various roles, as an actor, director, author and so on. Coming from a non-media background—his parents being hairdressers—it was difficult for Conti to settle down as an actor. However, his strong will and determination to pursue his passion backed his modest start thus helping him make a firm ground. Conti’s first taste of success was in 1979 for the Broadway play, ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ Until then, Conti had done several theatrical plays, television shows and films but success eluded until ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ happened. The play garnered for him much popularity, stardom and applause. He was credited with several important awards, including the prestigious Tony Award. Following this, he made several noteworthy performances in films like ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’, ‘Reuben, Reuben’, ‘Shirley Valentine’, ‘Streetdance 2’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and so on.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Conti had his first stint with acting at the age of eighteen. He was cast for Citizen's Theatre's 1959 production ‘The Roving Boy’. Same year, he began working with the Dundee Repertory.
  • Throughout the decade of 1960s, Conti meagrely survived. Except for sporadic television appearances here and there, Conti’s acting career was largely doomed to the point that he even thought of giving it up permanently to pursue a career in medicine for a steady income.
  • In 1972, the struggling actor performed for the play, ‘The Black and White Ministrels’ at the Transverse Theatre for the Edinburgh Festival. His performance in the play earned him a place in the religious television drama series, ‘Adam Smith’. This led to the beginning of a more promising acting career.
  • Following his 1972 television breakthrough, Conti did not give up on his on-stage appearance. He continued to star in plays, making his debut on the London stage in 1973 with the Christopher Hampton play ‘Savages’.
  • In 1974, he performed at the Hampstead theatre for ‘Other People’ and ‘Don Juan’; in ‘Don Juan’, he played the title role.
  • Year 1975 was an important year career-wise for Conti. He starred as Charles Bovary for the television mini-series ‘Madame Bovary’ alongside Francesca Annis and Gabrielle Llyod. Same year he made his debut on big screen with the film, ‘Slade in Frame’. Later that year, a biopic on scientist Galileo Galilee ‘Galileo’ had him don the role of Andrea Sarti.
  • Conti gained limelight for playing a significant role of a Jewish novelist, Adam Morris, in the 1976 British television drama, ‘The Glittering Prizes’. The series focused on the changing lives of a group of Cambridge students.
  • In 1977, Conti gave a stellar performance in the televised adaptation of the trilogy of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, ‘The Norman Conquests’ wherein he played the title role of Norman. The show was a major hit with the audience.
  • In 1979, came the big breakthrough of Conti’s career with ‘Whose Life It Is Anyway?’ A theatrical adaptation of an eponymous 1972 televised play was first premiered at the Mermaid Theatre and later made its way to Broadway. It marked Conti’s first ticket to Broadway as well. Conti’s role of a paralyzed sculpture gained remarkable appreciation from the audience and also a couple of awards.
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  • His superlative success in Broadway and London theatres set the stage for a commendable film career. The decade of 1980s had Conti star in noteworthy films including ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ and ‘Reuben, Reuben’. While the former earned him praise for stellar performance, the latter won him an Academy Award nomination.
  • Conti went on to star in many other films in the decade of 1980s including ‘American Dreamer’, ‘Saving Grace’, ‘Heavenly Pursuits’ and ‘Roman Holiday’. Though the films did not fare exceedingly well at the box office, they did helped Conti to keep it going for him professionally.
  • Conti ended the 1980s with the film, ‘Shirley Valentine’. Apart from films, he starred in various television shows including ‘Blade on the Feather’, ‘Rosemary's Baby’, ‘The Wall’, ‘Faerie Tale Theatre’, ‘Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story’, ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and so on.
  • The decade of 1990s had Conti star in a couple of big screen projects including ‘Someone Else’s America’, ‘Something To Believe In’, ‘Don’t Go Breaking by Heart’ and so on.
  • During the mid-1990s, he guest appeared on ‘Friends’ and ‘Cosby’, and starred opposite Nigel Hawthorne in a long-running series of Vauxhall Astra car advertisements in the UK.
  • In 2004, Conti made his debut in the world of literature with his debut novel, ‘The Doctor’. It was about a former Secret Operations pilot with Intelligence Services. Following year, he starred in the British-American crime thriller film, ‘Derailed’ which was based on the eponymous novel.
  • He appeared in the hit BBC sitcom ‘Miranda’ alongside Miranda Hart and Patricia Hodge, as Miranda's father, in the 2010 seasonal episode ‘The Perfect Christmas’. Same year, he appeared in two films, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘A Closed Book’.
  • In 2012, Conti made his big screen presence with three films, ‘Streetdance 2’, ‘Run For Your Wife’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
  • Other than appearing in films, television and theatre, Conti has donned the cap of a stage director as well for three plays namely, ‘Otherwise’ Engaged’, ‘Present Laughter’ and “the Last of the Red Hot Lovers’. Interestingly, two of them had his wife play opposite to him.
Major Works
  • The magnum opus of Conti’s career came in 1979 with the play, ‘Whose Life It Is Anyway?’ Interestingly, the play marked Conti’s debut in Broadway as well. The play was a huge hit and established Conti’s reputation as a talented actor. His remarkable portrayal of the role of a paralyzed sculptor gained widespread appreciation from the audience. It also won him several awards.
  • Conti’s film career saw heights with the release of the film, ‘Reuben Reuben’. Released in 1983, this dramedy (comedy and drama) earned acclaim both critically and commercially. Conti was praised for playing to perfection the titular role of Gowan McGland. He even received Academy and Golden Globe award nominations.
Awards & Achievements
  • Conti portrayal of the London and Broadway play, ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ earned him a couple of prestigious awards including Tony Award for Best Actor, Laurence Olivier Award for Actor of the Year in a New Play and Variety Club Award for Best Actor.
  • His performance in the films ‘Rueben, Rueben’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’ earned him National Board of Review for Best Actor award. He also received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Actor for ‘Reuben, Reuben’He twice received Golden Globe nominations for ‘Reuben, Reuben’ and ‘Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story’
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Tom Conti tied the nuptial knot with Scottish actress, Kara Wilson, in 1967. The couple is blessed with a daughter, Nina, who is an actress and ventriloquist.

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