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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hugh Griffith
Griffith in 1960
Hugh Emrys Griffith

(1912-05-30)30 May 1912
Died14 May 1980(1980-05-14) (aged 67)
London, England
Resting placeGolders Green Crematorium, London, England
EducationLlangefni County School
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1939–1980
SpouseAdelgunde Margaret Beatrice von Dechend (m. 1947)
RelativesElen Roger Jones (sister)
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1940–1946
UnitRoyal Welch Fusiliers

Hugh Emrys Griffith (30 May 1912 – 14 May 1980) was a Welsh actor.[1] Described by BFI Screenonline as a "wild-eyed, formidable character player",[2] Griffith appeared in over 100 theatre, film, and television productions in a career that spanned over 40 years.[2] He was the second-ever Welsh-born actor to win an Academy Award (following Ray Milland for The Lost Weekend), winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Ben-Hur (1959), with an additional nomination for Tom Jones (1963).

As a stage actor, he was a renowned Shakespearean and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was nominated for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for the original production Look Homeward, Angel. He was also a BAFTA Award and a three-time Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture (for Tom Jones; 1963, Oliver!; 1968, and The Fixer, also 1968), and a Clarence Derwent Award winner.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Orson Welles Great Mysteries: Volume 2 with Hugh Griffith | Available on DVD for the first time!
  • La Vida y El Triste Final de Hugh Griffith


Early life

Griffith was born in Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales, the youngest son of Mary and William Griffith.[3] His sister was actress Elen Roger Jones. He was educated at Llangefni County School and attempted to gain entrance to university, but failed the English examination. He was then urged to make a career in banking, becoming a bank clerk and transferring to London to be closer to acting opportunities.[4]

Just as he was making progress and gained admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he had to suspend his plans in order to join the British Army, serving for six years with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in India and the Burma Campaign during the Second World War.[4] He resumed his acting career in 1946, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company.[5]



Between 1946 and 1976, Griffith won acclaim for many stage roles, in particular for his portrayals of Falstaff, Lear and Prospero.[4] Griffith performed on both sides of the Atlantic, taking leading roles in London, New York City and Stratford. In 1952, he starred in the Broadway adaption of Legend of Lovers, alongside fellow Welsh actor Richard Burton.[6]

In 1958, he was back in New York, this time taking a lead role in the opening production of Look Homeward, Angel, alongside Anthony Perkins.[7] Both he and Perkins were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.


Griffith began his film career in British films during the late 1940s, and by the 1950s was also working in Hollywood. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Ben-Hur (1959), and was nominated for his performance in Tom Jones (1963). In 1968, he appeared as the magistrate in Oliver!. His later career was often blighted by his chronic alcoholism.[8][9]

He played the funeral director Caradog Lloyd-Evans in the 1978 BBC Wales comedy Grand Slam. While visibly unwell at the time of shooting (years of alcohol abuse had clearly taken their toll), Griffith's portrayal received widespread acclaim and helped the movie attain cult status.[citation needed]

Griffith was attached to Orson Welles' unproduced 1960s adaptation of Treasure Island.


On television, he had major roles in Quatermass II (1955), a miniseries adaptation of A. J. Cronin's The Citadel (1960) and Clochemerle (1972).[citation needed] He also appeared in an episode, 'The Talking Head', of Colonel March of Scotland Yard.


He received an honorary degree from the University of Wales, Bangor, in 1965.[10]

Personal life

Griffith was married to Adelgunde Margaret Beatrice von Dechend in 1947. He was a lifelong friend and drinking companion of poet Dylan Thomas.


Griffith, after being unwell for about a year, died in 1980 at his home in Kensington, London,[10] at age 67.[11]



Year Title Role Director Notes
1940 Night Train to Munich Sailor Carol Reed Uncredited
Neutral Port Spaniard Marcel Varnel
1947 The Silver Darlings Packman Clarence Elder
1948 The Three Weird Sisters Mabli Hughes Daniel Birt
So Evil My Love Coroner Lewis Allen
The First Gentleman Bishop of Salisbury Alberto Cavalcanti
London Belongs to Me Headlam Fynne Sidney Gilliat
1949 The Last Days of Dolwyn The Minister Emlyn Williams
Kind Hearts and Coronets Lord High Steward Robert Hamer
Doctor Morelle Bensall Godfrey Grayson
A Run for Your Money Huw Price Charles Frend
1950 Gone to Earth Andrew Vessons Powell and Pressburger
1951 The Galloping Major Harold Temple Henry Cornelius
Laughter in Paradise Henry Augustus Russell Mario Zampi
1953 The Titfield Thunderbolt Dan Taylor Charles Crichton
The Beggar's Opera The Beggar Peter Brook
1954 The Million Pound Note Potter Ronald Neame Uncredited
The Sleeping Tiger The Inspector Joseph Losey
1955 Passage Home Pettigrew Roy Ward Baker
1957 The Good Companions Morton Mitcham J. Lee Thompson
Lucky Jim Professor Welch John Boulting
1959 Ben-Hur Sheik Ilderim William Wyler Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best British Actor
Nominated- Laurel Award for Top Supporting Male Performance
The Story on Page One Judge Edgar Neilsen Clifford Odets
1960 The Day They Robbed the Bank of England O'Shea John Guillermin
Exodus Mandria Otto Preminger
1962 The Counterfeit Traitor Collins George Seaton
The Inspector Van der Pink Philip Dunne
Term of Trial O'Hara Peter Glenville
Mutiny on the Bounty Alexander Smith Lewis Milestone
1963 Tom Jones Squire Western Tony Richardson Nominated- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated- Laurel Award for Top Supporting Male Performance
1964 Hide and Seek Wilkins Cy Endfield
The Bargee Joe Turnbull Duncan Wood
1965 The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders Prison Governor Terence Young
1966 How to Steal a Million Bonnet William Wyler
1967 Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad Commodore Roseabove Richard Quine
The Sailor from Gibraltar Llewellyn Tony Richardson
On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who... Ibn-el-Rascid Pasquale Festa Campanile
Brown Eye, Evil Eye Tadeusz Bridges Robert Angus
1968 Oliver! The Magistrate Carol Reed Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Il marito è mio e l'ammazzo quando mi pare Ignazio Pasquale Festa Campanile
The Fixer Lebedev John Frankenheimer Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1970 Start the Revolution Without Me King Louis XVI Bud Yorkin
Cry of the Banshee Mickey Gordon Hessler
Wuthering Heights Dr. Kenneth Robert Fuest
1971 Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? "The Pigman" Harrison Curtis Harrington
The Abominable Dr. Phibes Rabbi Robert Fuest
1972 Dr. Phibes Rises Again Harry Ambrose
The Canterbury Tales Sir January Pier Paolo Pasolini
What? Joseph Noblart Roman Polanski
1973 Crescete e moltiplicatevi Monsignor Casadei Giulio Petroni
The Final Programme Professor Hira Robert Fuest
Take Me High Sir Harry Cunningham David Askey
1974 Luther John Tetzel Guy Green
The Visitor Barone di Roccadura Sergio Martino
Craze Solicitor Freddie Francis
1975 Legend of the Werewolf Maestro Pamponi
1976 The Passover Plot Caiaphas Michael Campus
1977 Casanova & Co. The Caliph Franz Antel
Joseph Andrews Squire Western Tony Richardson
The Last Remake of Beau Geste Judge Marty Feldman
1978 The Hound of the Baskervilles Frankland Paul Morrissey
1979 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Sid Larkin Ralph Thomas


Year Title Role Notes
1939 Johnson Was No Gentleman Footman TV movie
1947 The Wandering Jew Juan de Texeda TV movie
Maria Marten or, the Murder at the Red Barn Ishmael TV movie
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus Mephistophilis TV movie
1948 A Comedy of Good and Evil The Rev. John Williams TV movie
1952 Goodyear Television Playhouse Episode: "Tour of Duty"
Lux Video Theatre Constantine / Man with Cello Episodes: "The Game of Chess" & "The Sounds of Waves Breaking"
Lights Out Episode: "The Borgia Lamp"
Back to Methuselah TV movie
1953 Saturday Special 4 episodes
Rheingold Theatre Episode: "Outpost"
Escapade Andrew Deeson TV movie
The Broken Jug Judge Adam TV movie
The Teddy Bear Charley Delaney TV movie
1955 Sunday Night Theatre Photographer Episode: "The Moment of Truth"
The Merry Christmas Scrooge TV movie
Quatermass II Dr. Leo Pugh Miniseries; 6 episodes
Colonel March of Scotland Yard Dr. Ivy Episode: "The Talking Head"
1957 Armchair Theatre Simon Kendall Episode: "Now Let Him Go"
1959 Omnibus Episode: "Ah Sweet Mystery of Mrs. Murphy"
ITV Play of the Week M. Tarde / Gen. Léon Saint-Pé Episode: "The Wild Bird" & "The Waltz of the Toreadors"
Playhouse 90 Jaggers / Reverend Light Episode: "The Second Man" & "The Grey Nurse Said Nothing"
1960 The Citadel Philip Denny TV movie
The DuPont Show of the Week Long John Silver Episode: "Treasure Island"
Point of Departure Father TV movie
1963 Comedy Playhouse Luther Flannery Episode: "The Walrus and the Carpenter"
1966 The Poppy Is Also a Flower Salah Rahman Khan TV movie
1967 ABC Stage 67 Herr Hoffman Episode: "Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn?"
1971 Tomorrow's World The Baron Episode: "Tomorrow's World Meets Yesterday's World"
1971-72 Thirty-Minute Theatre Choobukov / Uncle Rollo Episodes: "The Proposal" & "Uncle Rollo"
1972 Clochemerle Alexandre Bourdillat Miniseries; 3 episodes
1973 Owen, M.D. John Owen Episode: "September Song!"
Orson Welles Great Mysteries The Man Episode: "The Inspiration of Mr. Budd"
1974 BBC2 Playhouse Dr. Walden Episode: "The Joke"
1975 A Legacy Baron Felden Miniseries; 2 episodes
1978 Grand Slam Caradog Lloyd-Evans TV movie

Partial theatre credits

Year Title Role Director Venue Other notes Ref.
1940 The Venetian Concini Hugh Miller St Martin's Theatre, London [12]
1946 The Tempest Trinculo Eric Crozier Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon [12]
Love's Labour's Lost Holofernes Peter Brook [12]
Henry V Charles VI Dorothy Green [12]
As You Like It Touchstone Herbert Prentice [12]
Macbeth First Witch Michael Macowan [12]
Doctor Faustus Mephistopheles Walter Hudd [12]
1947 The White Devil Cardinal Monticelso Michael Benthall Duchess Theatre, London [12]
1948 A Comedy of Good and Evil The Rev. John Williams Vivienne Bennett Arts Theatre, London [12]
1950-51 Point of Departure Father Peter Ashmore Lyric Theatre, London [12]
Duke of York's Theatre, London [12]
1951 Richard II John of Gaunt Anthony Quayle Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon [12]
Henry IV, Part 1 Owen Glendower [12]
The Tempest Caliban Michael Benthall [12]
1951-52 Henry V Canterbury Anthony Quayle [12]
Legend of Lovers His Father Peter Ashmore Plymouth Theatre, New York City Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Male (UK) [13]
1952-54 Escapade Andrew Deeson John Fernald Theatre Royal, Brighton [12]
St James's Theatre, London [12]
Strand Theatre, London [12]
1954 The Dark Is Light Enough Belmann Peter Brook Aldwych Theatre, London [12]
The Alexandra, Birmingham [12]
1956-57 The Waltz of the Toreadors Gen. Léon Saint-Pé Peter Hall Arts Theatre, London [12]
Criterion Theatre, London [12]
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh [12]
1957-59 Look Homeward, Angel W.O. Gant George Roy Hill Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City Nominated- Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play [13]
1959 The Cenci Francesco Cenci Michael Benthall The Old Vic, London [12]
1962 The Caucasian Chalk Circle Azdak William Gaskill Aldwych Theatre, London [12]
1963 Andorra The Teacher Michael Langham Biltmore Theater, New York City [13]
1964 Henry IV, Part 1 John Falstaff Peter Hall Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon [12]
Henry IV, Part 2 [12]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Year Work Result
Academy Award Best Supporting Actor 1960 Ben-Hur Won
1964 Tom Jones Nominated
British Academy Film Award Best British Actor 1964 Nominated
Clarence Derwent Award Best Supporting Male (UK) 1952 Legend of Lovers Won
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture 1964 Tom Jones Nominated
1969 Oliver! Nominated
The Fixer Nominated
Laurel Award Top Supporting Male Performance 1960 Ben-Hur Nominated
1964 Tom Jones 5th place
National Board of Review Best Supporting Actor 1959 Ben-Hur Won
Tony Award Best Actor in a Play 1958 Look Homeward, Angel Nominated


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, 21 May 1980.
  2. ^ a b "BFI Screenonline: Griffith, Hugh (1912-1980) Biography". Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Hugh Griffith". BBC Wales Arts. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines; Lynch, Peredur I., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
  5. ^ "Hugh Emrys Griffith | Welsh Actor, Film Star, Lawrence of Arabia | Britannica". Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Legend of Lovers". Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Look Homeward, Angel". Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  8. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (2004). "Dr. Phibes Rises Again". Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  9. ^ Turner, Robin (29 March 2009). "New book tells of Wales' famous boozers". Western Mail. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Griffith, Hugh Emrys (1912–1980)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55467. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ "Hugh Griffith, Oscar-Winning Actor In 1959 For His Role in 'Ben Hur,' Dies", The Washington Post, digital archives, 15 May 1980, C4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Hugh Griffith | Theatricalia". Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  13. ^ a b c "Hugh Griffith – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Retrieved 26 December 2023.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 March 2024, at 18:09
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