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Miles Malleson

Miles Malleson
in Stage Fright (1950)
Born William Miles Malleson
(1888-05-25)25 May 1888
Croydon, Surrey, England
Died 15 March 1969(1969-03-15) (aged 80)
London, England
Other names Miles Malieson
Occupation Actor/screenwriter
Years active 1921– 1965
Spouse(s) Lady Constance Annesley (1915–1923)
Joan G. Billson (1923–1940)
Tatiana Lieven (1946–1969)

William Miles Malleson (25 May 1888 – 15 March 1969), generally known as Miles Malleson, was an English actor and dramatist, particularly remembered for his appearances in British comedy films of the 1930s to 1960s. Towards the end of his career he also appeared in cameo roles in several Hammer horror films, with a fairly large role in The Brides of Dracula as the hypochondriac and fee-hungry local doctor. Malleson was also a writer on many films, including some of those in which he had small parts, such as Nell Gwyn (1934) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940). He also translated and adapted several of Molière's plays (The Misanthrope, which he titled The Slave of Truth, Tartuffe, and The Imaginary Invalid)


  • Biography 1
  • Partial filmography 2
    • As actor 2.1
    • As screenwriter 2.2
    • As playwright 2.3
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Malleson was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, the son of Edmund Taylor Malleson (1859-1909), a manufacturing chemist, and Myrrha Bithynia Frances Borrell (1863-1931), a descendant of the numismatist Henry Perigal Borrell and the inventor Francis Maceroni. He was educated at Brighton College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he created a sensation when it was discovered that he had successfully posed as a politician and given a speech instead of the visitor who had failed to attend a debating society dinner.[1]

Malleson made his first appearance on stage as an actor in September 1911, turning professional two months later. He studied acting at Herbert Beerbohm Tree's Academy of Dramatic Art, which later was renamed the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Here he met his first wife in 1913. In September 1914 he enlisted in the Army, and was sent to Malta, but was invalided home and discharged in January 1915. By June 1916 he was writing in support of conscientious objectors.[2]

He married three times and had many relationships. In 1915, he married writer and aspiring actress Lady Constance Annesley. Like she, he was interested in social reform, one of his plays being on the subject of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Theirs was an open marriage and they divorced amicably in 1923 so that he could marry Joan Billson; they divorced in 1940. His third wife was Tatiana Lieven, who he married in 1946 and from whom he had been separated for several years at the time of his death.[3]

He was tall and slender, but with a round double-chin like Robert Morley's, and a sharp nose. His manner was gentle and absent-minded; his voice, soft and high. He is best remembered for his roles as the Sultan in The Thief of Bagdad (1940), the poetically-inclined hangman in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and as Dr. Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952).

Failing eyesight led to his being unable to work in his last years. He died in March 1969 following surgery to remove cataracts and was cremated in a private ceremony. A memorial service was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields during which Sybil Thorndike and Laurence Olivier both gave readings.[4]

Partial filmography

As actor

As screenwriter

As playwright

  • Youth A Play in Three Acts
  • The Little White Thought A Fantastic Scrap
  • Paddly Pools A Little Fairy Play
  • Black 'Ell (1916); Malleson's anti-war play was refused permission for performance in 1916, and not produced in the UK until 1925
  • Molière: Three Plays (1960); contains The Slave of Truth (Le Misanthrope), Tartuffe and The Imaginary Invalid

Malleson's only published work as screenwriter appears to be “Lawrence of Arabia from Revolt in the Desert by T.E. Lawrence; Scenario by Miles Malleson, Brian Desmond Hurst and Duncan Guthrie October 4th 1938” in Filming T.E. Lawrence: Korda’s Lost Epics; Edited and introduced by Andrew Kelly, James Pepper and Jeffrey Richards. London/New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1997.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Miles Malleson: Cranks and Commonsense, 1916; Miles Malleson: Second Thoughts, nd [1916]
  3. ^ Discovering the Family of Miles Malleson 1888 to 1969Malleson, Andrew Google Books (2012) pg 267
  4. ^ Malleson, Andrew pg 268

External links

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