Birthday: September 29, 1913
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith
Born in: Cliftonville, Kent, England, UK
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Helen Cherry
father: Arthur John Howard-Smith
mother: Mabel Grey Wallace
Died on: January 7, 1988
place of death: Arkley, Barnet, Hertfordshire, England, UK
education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Clifton College
Trevor Howard was an English professional actor best known for his role of a sensitive doctor in the romantic drama film, ‘Brief Encounter’, which gave him prominence as a star. He began his acting career as a stage artist while studying at the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’. He gradually made his name in theatre over the next ten years, especially for his performance in the comic play ‘French Without Tears’ that became a success in London. He also appeared in many other Shakespearean plays that were staged in Stratford-Upon-Avon. He took a brief time off from professional acting during the ‘Second World War’ and served the British Army as a paratrooper. He returned to stage in 1943 and landed up with his first movie ‘The Way Ahead’ the following year. His breakthrough film ‘Brief Encounter’ attained him star status and paved way for other acclaimed roles in films like ‘The Third Man’, ‘The Key’, ‘Sons and Lovers’, ‘The Heart of the Matter’, ‘Gandhi’, ‘The Dawning’ and ‘George Washington’. He also worked in many television series and TV films. His portrayal of the title role in the TV play ‘The Invincible Mr Disraeli’ won him the television Emmy award. In 1958 he was selected as the best actor of the year by the ‘British Film Academy’ for his performance in the film, ‘The Key’. He was voted, number of times over the years, by the British film exhibitors through annual poll in the ‘Motion Picture Herald’ as one of the top 10 British stars at the box office.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on September 29, 1913, in Cliftonville, England to Arthur John Howard, an insurance writer for Lyods of London and Mabel Grey, a nurse.
His father relocated with the family to Ceylon when he was a child. After staying in Ceylon for a few years, he traveled with his mother and younger sister Merla on an extensive trip around the world to England.
Reaching England Howard, who was around eight years old at that time, got enrolled in the ‘Clifton College’ while his mother and Merla went back to join his father in Ceylon.
Howard was not much interested in academics. He was rather more inclined towards sports, especially cricket and even contemplated of pursuing it.
However upon insistence of one of his school teachers and consent of his mother, Howard enrolled at the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts’ (‘RADA’), a drama school in London.
He was selected as the best actor in his class at the end of his first year of studies in ‘RADA’ in 1933 for portraying the character of Benedict in the school production of Shakespeare’s comedy play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.
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In 1934, while studying at ‘RADA’, he made his professional debut as a stage artist with the play ‘Revolt in a Reformatory’, staged at the ‘Gate Theater’.
He left the drama school in 1935 and the same year performed as ‘Absolute’ in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, ‘The Rivals’. For the next decade he honed his acting skills by performing small roles in several plays including Shakespearean plays in theaters at the West End of London as also at the ‘Memorial’ at Stratford-on-Avon.
He served the British Army for three years during the ‘Second world War’. During this tenure he made 22 parachute jumps, participating in airborne landings in Sicily and Norway. He received the ‘Military Cross. However, in 1943 he was discharged from the army.
He soon returned to acting and in 1943 performed in the stage play, ‘The Recruiting Officer’ followed by other successful onstage performances in plays like ‘A Soldier for Christmas’ and ‘Anna Christie’.
He made his film debut quietly in 1944 portraying the role of a naval officer with the Carol Reed directed film, ‘The Way Ahead’.
His breakthrough came with his third film, ‘Brief Encounter’, a romantic drama by David Lean that was released on November 26, 1945. Lean was in search of an actor who could fit into one of the characters of his film, Alec, and spotted Howard in the film, ‘The Way Ahead’. The success of ‘Brief Encounter’ earned Howard a star status and marked the beginning of his over four decade long journey in films.
His next prominent film ‘The Third Man’ was again with director Carol Reed. He played the character of Major Calloway, a British military officer. This film furthered his reputation as a skilled actor. One of the incidents during shooting of the film in Vienna saw him arrested when he landed up dressed in British military uniform, in an enclosure which was still under the control of the Soviet army. However later the confusion was cleared and he was handed over to the ‘Special Investigation Branch’ of the British military police.
His excellent performance as Captain Chris Ford in the British war film ‘The Key’ directed by Carol Reed and released on July 1, 1958, won him the Best Actor award from the ‘British Academy of Film and Television Arts’.
The 1960 film ‘Sons and Lovers’ earned him a nomination for an ‘Academy Award for Best Actor’. He also earned nominations from various other prestigious awards including the ‘BAFTA’ the ‘Golden Globe Award’ and ‘Emmy Award’.
Some of his notable films are ‘The Heart of the Matter’ (1953), ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ (1956), ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ (1962), ‘Battle of Britain’ (1969), ‘The Offence’ (1972), ‘A Doll's House’ (1973), ‘Superman’ (1978), ‘Hurricane’ (1979), ‘Gandhi’ (1982) and ‘George Washington’ (1984).
He also made his presence felt in television with some remarkable performances. In 1963 he played title role in the TV play, ‘The Invincible Mr Disraeli’ which earned him an Emmy award. He worked in television films like ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ (1975), ‘Deadly Game’ (1982) and ‘Inside the Third Reich’ (1982); and in series like ‘Shaka Zulu’ and ‘Peter the Great’ in 1986.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Helen Cherry on September 8, 1944. The couple acted together in the 1974 film ’11 Harrowhouse’.
Howard became an alcoholic and suffered from serious health issues. On January 7, 1988, he succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver and hepatic failure in Barnet.
He was quite passionate about cricket and held membership at the renowned ‘Marylebone Cricket Club’. All through his career he insisted inclusion of a clause in all his contracts that would excuse him from filming during any cricket test match.
In 1982 he declined a ‘CBE’.