The Info List - George Arliss

George Arliss
George Arliss
(10 April 1868 – 5 February 1946) was an English actor, author, playwright and filmmaker who found success in the United States. He was the first British actor to win an Academy Award, as well as the earliest-born actor to win one.


1 Life and career 2 Last years and death 3 Other 4 Filmography 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Life and career[edit]

George Arliss
George Arliss
as Benjamin Disraeli, The Theatre magazine, 1911

Born in London
and baptised as Augustus George Andrews but commonly listed as George Augustus Andrews, his relatives referred to him as Uncle Gus. Arliss was educated at Harrow. He started work in the publishing office of his father (William Joseph Arliss Andrews) but left at age eighteen to go on the stage. He began his acting career on the stage in the British provinces in 1887. By 1900, he was playing London's West End in supporting roles. He embarked for a tour of America in 1901 in Mrs Patrick Campbell's troupe. Intending to remain in the US only for the length of the tour, Arliss stayed for twenty years, eventually becoming a star in 1908 in The Devil. Producer George Tyler commissioned Louis Napoleon Parker in 1911 to write a play specifically tailored for Arliss, and the actor toured in Disraeli for five years, eventually becoming closely identified with the 19th century British prime minister. He began his film career with The Devil (1921), followed by Disraeli and four other silent films. Today, only The Devil, Disraeli, $20 a Week, and The Green Goddess (1923), based on the hit stage play in which he had starred, are known to have survived. He remade Disraeli (1929) in sound (and won the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actor), converting successfully at the age of 61 from a star of the legitimate theatre, and then silent films, to the talkies. Arliss made ten sound films exclusively for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
under a contract that gave the star an unusual amount of creative control for the time. Curiously, his casting of actors and rewriting of scripts were privileges granted him by the studio that are not even mentioned in his contract. One of these films, The Man Who Played God (1932), was Bette Davis's first leading role. Until the end of Davis's life, she would credit Arliss for personally insisting upon her as his leading lady and giving her a chance to show her mettle. The two also co-starred in The Working Man
The Working Man
in 1933.

George Arliss
George Arliss
in sultan costume

Arliss built a production unit at Warners' both in front of and behind the cameras. His stage manager, Maude Howell, became an assistant producer and was one of the few female film executives in Hollywood at that time. After his first three films, Arliss approved an undistinguished director, John Adolfi, to direct each of his films from that point on. Adolfi soon found himself regarded as a successful director of the critically and financially acclaimed Arliss films. Arliss preferred to use the same reliable actors, such as Ivan Simpson (who was also a sculptor) and Charles Evans, from film to film. Yet Arliss had an eye for discovering unknown newcomers, such as James Cagney, Randolph Scott
Randolph Scott
and Dick Powell, among others. Despite his extensive involvement in the planning and production of his films, Arliss claimed credit only for acting.[citation needed] Working closely with Warners' production chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, Arliss left the studio when Zanuck resigned in April 1933. Zanuck quickly signed Arliss to make new films at Zanuck's fledgling studio, 20th Century Pictures, prompting Warners' to bitterly complain to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences
Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences
that Zanuck had "stolen" their star. Arliss is remembered primarily for his witty series of historical biographies such as Alexander Hamilton, Voltaire, The House of Rothschild, The Iron Duke, and Cardinal Richelieu. However, he had a second string to his bow, a series of domestic comedies such as The Millionaire, A Successful Calamity, The Working Man, and The Last Gentleman, among others.[citation needed]

George Arliss
George Arliss
in The House of Rothschild (1934).

He often appeared with his wife, Florence Arliss (née Florence Kate Montgomery Smith) (1871–1950), to whom he was married from 16 September 1899 until his death. They had no children, although Leslie Arliss, who became a prolific producer-director for Gainsborough Pictures, is erroneously referred to as their son in some reference works. Florence (or "Flo", as George called her) starred both on stage and in films (both silent and sound) with her husband and almost always played his character's spouse. However, that did not prevent Arliss from using another actress when Flo was not right for a role. Also, Flo turned down roles that George wanted her to play in some films. In 1934 British filmgoers named Arliss their favourite male star.[1] Arliss was approaching 70 when he completed the British-made Doctor Syn in 1937. He and Flo returned to America later that year to visit old friends, including famed astronomer Edwin Hubble
Edwin Hubble
in California. Producer-director Cecil B. DeMille arranged for the Arlisses to re-enact their roles in Disraeli on DeMille's popular radio show, Lux Radio Theatre, in January 1938. The occasion was heralded as "a new page in radio history". George and Flo subsequently appeared on Lux in radio adaptations of The Man Who Played God in March 1938, and in Cardinal Richelieu
Cardinal Richelieu
in January 1939, which was apparently their final dramatic appearance anywhere. Returning to their home in London
in April 1939, the onset of the Second World War
Second World War
prevented their return to America during Arliss's remaining years. The only taint of scandal involved charges by the British Government in September 1941 that Arliss had not complied with a recent requirement to report bank accounts he maintained in the US and Canada (Similar charges were also brought against actor-playwright Noël Coward
Noël Coward
around the same time). Both men claimed ignorance of the new law, but they were fined and publicly humiliated by the experience. Last years and death[edit] Arliss settled at Pangbourne
in Berkshire. Film producer Darryl F. Zanuck tried to interest Arliss in returning to Hollywood to star in The Pied Piper in 1942. Braving the Luftwaffe's Blitz on London throughout the war, Arliss remained in his native city. He died in Maida Hill, London, of a bronchial ailment on 5 February 1946, aged 77.[2] His gravestone does not refer to his success in the performing arts, although it does cite the one achievement of which he was apparently most proud: an honorary Master of Arts degree he received from Columbia University
Columbia University
in 1919. Other[edit] Arliss was a prominent anti-vivisectionist who founded the National Anti-Vivisection Society of Chicago. He was president of the Episcopal Actors' Guild of America from 1921 to 1938[3]. Arliss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
at 6648 Hollywood Boulevard. He is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[4] His grave is located in London's All Saints' Churchyard, Harrow Weald. Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes

1921 The Devil Dr. Muller

1921 Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli

1922 Man Who Played God, TheThe Man Who Played God Montgomery Royle

1922 Ruling Passion, TheThe Ruling Passion James Alden

1922 Starland Review, TheThe Starland Review Himself archive

1923 Green Goddess, TheThe Green Goddess Rajah of Rukh

1924 Twenty Dollars a Week John Reeves

1929 Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actor

1930 Green Goddess, TheThe Green Goddess Raja of Rukh Nominated — Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actor

1930 Old English Sylvanus Heythorp

1931 Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton

1931 Millionaire, TheThe Millionaire James Alden

1932 Successful Calamity, AA Successful Calamity Henry Wilton

1932 Man Who Played God, TheThe Man Who Played God Montgomery Royle Released as The Silent Voice in the United Kingdom

1933 Voltaire Voltaire

1933 Working Man, TheThe Working Man John Reeves

1933 King's Vacation, TheThe King's Vacation Phillip, the King

1934 Iron Duke, TheThe Iron Duke Duke of Wellington

1934 Last Gentleman, TheThe Last Gentleman Cabot Barr

1934 House of Rothschild, TheThe House of Rothschild Mayer Rothschild / Nathan Rothschild

1935 Tunnel, TheThe Tunnel Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Released as Transatlantic Tunnel in the United States

1935 Cardinal Richelieu Cardinal Richelieu

1935 Guv'nor, TheThe Guv'nor Guv'nor, TheThe Guv'nor Released as Mister Hobo in the United States

1936 His Lordship Richard Fraser/Lorimer, Lord Duncaster Release as Man of Affairs in the United States

1936 East Meets West Sultan of Rungay

1937 Doctor Syn Dr. Syn

1939 Land of Liberty

archive footage

1943 Voice That Thrilled the World, TheThe Voice That Thrilled the World Himself segment Disraeli – archive footage, uncredited

See also[edit]

List of oldest and youngest Academy Award
Academy Award
winners and nominees List of actors with Academy Award
Academy Award
nominations List of actors with Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
motion picture stars



^ "FILM WORLD". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 1 February 1935. p. 2. Retrieved 4 March 2013.  ^ "Mr. George Arliss". The Times. Longon, England. 6 February 1946. p. 7.  ^ Starr, Kevin (28 November 2002). "The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s". Oxford University Press – via Google Books.  ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members". 


Fells, Robert M. George Arliss: The Man Who Played God (Scarecrow Press, 2004) Fells, The Arliss Archives: The Further Adventures of The Man Who Played God (Arliss Publishing House, 2011) Fells, More Rarities From the Arliss Archives: A 125th Anniversary Salute to George Arliss
George Arliss
(Arliss Publishing House, 2012) Fells, The 1921 Lost DISRAELI: A Photo Reconstruction of the George Arliss Silent Film (Arliss Publishing House, 2013) Arliss, George. Up the Years from Bloomsbury (1927) Arliss, George. My Ten Years in the Studios ( George Arliss
George Arliss
by Himself in UK) (1940)

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Arliss.

George Arliss
George Arliss
on IMDb George Arliss
George Arliss
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Photographs and literature Arliss archives @ wordpress.com George Arliss
George Arliss
collection(Univ. of Washington, Sayre)

v t e

Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actor


Emil Jannings
Emil Jannings
(1928) Warner Baxter
Warner Baxter
(1929) George Arliss
George Arliss
(1930) Lionel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
(1931) Fredric March
Fredric March
/ Wallace Beery
Wallace Beery
(1932) Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
(1933) Clark Gable
Clark Gable
(1934) Victor McLaglen
Victor McLaglen
(1935) Paul Muni
Paul Muni
(1936) Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
(1937) Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
(1938) Robert Donat
Robert Donat
(1939) James Stewart
James Stewart
(1940) Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
(1941) James Cagney
James Cagney
(1942) Paul Lukas
Paul Lukas
(1943) Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
(1944) Ray Milland
Ray Milland
(1945) Fredric March
Fredric March
(1946) Ronald Colman
Ronald Colman
(1947) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1948) Broderick Crawford
Broderick Crawford
(1949) José Ferrer
José Ferrer


Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
(1951) Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
(1952) William Holden
William Holden
(1953) Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
(1954) Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine
(1955) Yul Brynner
Yul Brynner
(1956) Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
(1957) David Niven
David Niven
(1958) Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
(1959) Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
(1960) Maximilian Schell
Maximilian Schell
(1961) Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
(1962) Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
(1963) Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison
(1964) Lee Marvin
Lee Marvin
(1965) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1966) Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
(1967) Cliff Robertson
Cliff Robertson
(1968) John Wayne
John Wayne
(1969) George C. Scott1 (1970) Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman
(1971) Marlon Brando1 (1972) Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon
(1973) Art Carney
Art Carney
(1974) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson


Peter Finch
Peter Finch
(1976) Richard Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss
(1977) Jon Voight
Jon Voight
(1978) Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman
(1979) Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
(1980) Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
(1981) Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley
(1982) Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
(1983) F. Murray Abraham
F. Murray Abraham
(1984) William Hurt
William Hurt
(1985) Paul Newman
Paul Newman
(1986) Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas
(1987) Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman
(1988) Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis
(1989) Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons
(1990) Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
(1991) Al Pacino
Al Pacino
(1992) Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
(1993) Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
(1994) Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage
(1995) Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush
(1996) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
(1997) Roberto Benigni
Roberto Benigni
(1998) Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey
(1999) Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe


Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington
(2001) Adrien Brody
Adrien Brody
(2002) Sean Penn
Sean Penn
(2003) Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx
(2004) Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman
(2005) Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker
(2006) Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis
(2007) Sean Penn
Sean Penn
(2008) Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges
(2009) Colin Firth
Colin Firth
(2010) Jean Dujardin
Jean Dujardin
(2011) Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis
(2012) Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey
(2013) Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne
(2014) Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio
(2015) Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck
(2016) Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman

1 refused award that year

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 44563073 LCCN: no89006300 ISNI: 0000 0003 6851 6305 GND: 129650730 SUDOC: 118255940 BNF: cb14659582h (data) SN