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Reginald Carey (Rex) (Sir) Harrison.

1908–1990
Actor and Film Star


Sir Reginald Carey "Rex" Harrison was an Oscar and Tony award-winning theatre and film actor.

Harrison was born in Huyton, Knowsley, and educated at Liverpool College.  He first appeared on the stage in 1924 in Liverpool.  He acted in various stage productions until 11 May 1990.  He acted in the West End of London when he was young, appearing in the Terence Rattigan play “French Without Tears”, which proved to be his breakthrough role.

Harrison was best known for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in the musical “My Fair Lady”, based on the George Bernard Shaw play “Pygmalion”, especially after he reprised the role in the 1964 film version, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar. The 1956 cast album set sales records at the time. He revived the role on stage in the early 1980s. He also starred in 1967's Doctor Dolittle. Harrison could not sing well; thus, the music was generally written to allow for long periods of recitative, generally identified as "speaking to the music". Although Harrison's acting was often described as limited, he attracted favourable notices for his portrayal of Julius Caesar in “Cleopatra” (1963) and as Pope Julius II in “The Agony and the Ecstasy” (1965), opposite Charlton Heston as Michelangelo.

He was married six times. In 1942 he divorced his first wife, Colette Thomas, and married actress Lilli Palmer the next year; the two later appeared in numerous plays and films. After several years in film, he achieved wide acclaim starring in the adaptation of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (1945). He followed that with his first major American film, starring as King Mongkut in Anna and the King of Siam.


Rob Ainsworth