Saturday, September 20, 2014

Remembering Kenneth More

Kenneth Gilbert More was born on September 20, 1914 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England, U.K.. More was the only son of Charles Gilbert More, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot, and Edith Winifred Watkins, the daughter of a Cardiff solicitor. He was educated at Victoria College, Jersey, spending part of his childhood in the Channel Islands, where his father was general manager of the Jersey Eastern Railway. After he left school, he followed the family tradition by training as a civil engineer. He gave up his training and worked for a while in Sainsbury's.
 
When More was 17 his father died, and he applied to join the RAF, but failed the medical test for equilibrium. He went to Canada, intending to work as a fur trapper, but was sent back for lacking immigration papers. On his return, a family friend, Vivian Van Damm, took him on as assistant manager at the Windmill Theatre. He was soon promoted to playing straight man in the Revudeville comedy routines, appearing in his first sketch in August 1935. He played there for a year, which then led to regular work in repertory, including Newcastle, performing in plays such as “Burke and Hare” and “Dracula's Daughter”. He continued this work until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 where he received a commission as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and saw active service aboard the cruiser HMS Aurora and the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious.
 
After his military career in 1946 he went to work for Wolverhampton repertory, then appeared on stage in the West End in “And No Birds Sing” (1946), then played Badger in a TV adaptation of “Toad of Toad Hall”. He was seen by Noël Coward playing a small role on stage in “Power Without Glory” (1947), which led to being cast in “Peace In Our Time” (1947).
 
Around this time, More began appearing in films, starting with a small role in “Scott of the Antarctic” (1948). His parts grew larger and he achieved a notable stage of success in “The Way Things Go” (1950) with Ronald Squire. More auditioned for a part in a new play by Terence Rattigan, “The Deep Blue Sea” (1952); he was successful and achieved tremendous critical acclaim in the role of Freddie. He then played one of the four leads in “Genevieve” (1953). The resulting film was a success at the British box office, as was “Doctor in the House” (1954), for which More received a BAFTA Award as best newcomer. He went on to appear in many roles as a carefree, happy-go-lucky gent. His biggest hits from this period include “Raising a Riot” (1955), “Reach for the Sky” (1956) and “The Admirable Crichton” (1958). He starred in “Doctor in the House” (1954), the first of the popular Doctor film series. During this time he appeared in his only Euro-western: “The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw” (1958)
 
Although his career declined in the early 1960s, two of his own favorite films date from this time “The Comedy Man” (1964) and “The Greengage Summer” (1961) with Susannah York . He also enjoyed a revival in the much-acclaimed TV adaptation of ‘The Forsyte Saga’ (1967) and the Father Brown series.
 
Kenneth died of Parkinson’s disease on July 12, 1982 in Fulham, London, England, U.K..
 
Today we remember Kenneth More on what would have been his 100th birthday.

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