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Donald Houston

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Donald Houston
Donald houston.jpeg
Born(1923-11-06)6 November 1923
Died13 October 1991(1991-10-13) (aged 67)
Years active1949–1984
Brenda Hogan
(m. 1949; his death 1991)
FamilyGlyn Houston (brother)

Donald Daniel Houston (6 November 1923 – 13 October 1991) was a British actor whose first two films—The Blue Lagoon (1949) with Jean Simmons,[1] and A Run for Your Money (1949) with Alec Guinness—were highly successful. Later in his career he was cast in military roles and in comedies such as the Doctor and Carry On series.

Early life

Houston was born in 10 Thomas Street, Tonypandy, on Tuesday 6 November 1923 in the village of Clydach Vale, near Tonypandy, Glamorgan and was the elder brother of actor Glyn Houston and a sister, Jean.[2]

His father Alexander Houston, was a professional football player from Scotland, and his mother Elsie M Jones, ran a milk round.[3] Following the death of their mother at age 29, Donald and brother Glyn Houston were raised by their grandmother while their father had to leave Wales in order to find work.[4]

After leaving school he worked at a local colliery[3] before deciding to start an acting career.[5] In 1940 he performed on stage with the Pilgrim Players.[6] He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War as a rear gunner and radio officer.

Acting career

Houston had a successful career as a character actor in British film and television, with prominent parts in several well-known films, including Yangtse Incident (1957), The Longest Day (1962, in which he appeared alongside Richard Burton), 633 Squadron (1964), Where Eagles Dare (1968, again with Burton) and The Sea Wolves (1981).[7] He would sometimes indulge his Welsh accent, and at other times conceal it behind an English public school voice. His forte tended to be authority figures, often military, such as the brilliant but tough David Caulder, the head of Moonbase 3, or Dr Francis in "Thirteen to Centaurus" (from the anthology series Out of the Unknown).

He could also handle comedy, as he proved with Doctor in the House (1954) and the later Doctor in Distress (1963), both significant successes in Europe, and Carry On Jack (1963). Though preferring quality parts, he was not above journeyman work[according to whom?] in films such as Maniac (1963) and Tales That Witness Madness (1973).


He died on 13 October 1991, of a stroke.[3]

The house in which he was born in Tonypandy, Rhondda is marked with a Blue Plaque historical marker.[8] The unveiling ceremony was attended by Donald's daughter Sian, his granddaughter Michela, his sister Jean Rees and other family members and friends. Historian Peter Stead spoke about Donald Houston's British film career at the plaque unveiling ceremony.[9]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Thomson, David (24 January 2010). "Jean Simmons obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  2. ^ The Annual Obituary 1991. Detroit, Mich: St. James Press. 1992. p. 631. ISBN 9781558621756.
  3. ^ a b c "Film actor Donald Houston's Rhondda blue plaque honour". BBC News. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  4. ^ "The two brothers from Tonypandy who went on to be Hollywood stars". Wales Online. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Donald Houston, great Welsh actor". BBC. 7 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Donald Houston Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  7. ^ Pettigrew, Terence (1982). British Film Character Actors: Great Names and memorable Moments. Neton Abbot: David & Charles. pp. 95–98. ISBN 0-7153-8270-5.
  8. ^ "Hollywood actor's Rhondda honour". 28 January 2010 – via
  9. ^ "Hollywood actor's Rhondda honour". 28 January 2010.
  10. ^ "Donald Houston". BFI. Retrieved 8 August 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 January 2023, at 10:49
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