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Gerald du Maurier Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in London, England, UK
Died in London, England, UK  (following surgery)
Birth NameGerald Hubert Edward Busson du Maurier

Mini Bio (1)

Sir Gerald Du Maurier was one of the top thespians on the English stage in the first third of the 20th Century, and his distinguished career as an actor-manager led to his being knighted by King George V in 1922. Born in Hampstead, London on March 26, 1873, he was the son anglo-French writer and cartoonist 'George du Maurier', best known for creating the character of Svengali in his 1894 novel "Trilby", and the former Emma Wightwick. Sir Gerald also was the father of writer Dame Daphne Du Maurier and the uncle of the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired the boy characters in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1924).

Du Maurier was educated at Heath Mount School from 1882 to 1887 and then at Harrow. He became a businessman after Harrow, but he did not like it and his parents' connections enabled him to enter a life in a theater with one of the top companies, as his father's friend John Hare gave him a part in a production of Sydney Grundy's "An Old Jew" at the Garrick Theatre. Like Seymour Hicks, another theatrical knight who was a contemporary (and who played a key role in his success), Du Maurier toiled in small parts for many years before his breakthrough came in two plays by J.M. Barrie, the writer who was inspired by his nephews. Du Maurier scored in Barrie's The Admirable Crichton (1918) in 1902 and, in a role closer to home, triumphed in the dual role of George Darling and Captain Hook in Barrie's "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" in 1904. (Hicks, who who achieve immortality playing Ebenezer Scrooge several thousands times on stage and on screen, turned down "Peter Pan".) Interestingly, Du Maurier's daughter Angela may have partially inspired the character of Wendy.

From 1910 to 1925, Du Maurier managed Wyndham's Theatre with Frank Curzon before moving his company to the St James's Theatre. Audiences were enamored of his subtly realistic acting style that suggested rather telegraphed emotion. According to his daughter Daphne in her biography of her father, Du Maurier used a casual manner on stage and disliked it when an actor in his company showed too much emotion. Sir Gerald would reproach an actor who played a scene too enthusiastically by asking, "Must you kiss her as though you were having steak and onions for lunch? It may be what you feel but it's damned unattractive from the front row of the stalls. Can't you just say, 'I love you,' and yawn, and light a cigarette and walk away?"

He was made knighted in 1922 and such was his popularity, in 1929, a filtered cigarette brand was named after him in an endorsement deal. A heavy smoker, Du Maurier himself smoked filterless cigarettes and never partook of the brand named in his honor, but the deal gave him income to pay off a tax debt to the Inland Revenue.

Sir Gerald Du Maurier continued to perform onstage and in movies until his death. He died of colon cancer in London on April 11, 1934 at the age of 61.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Muriel Beaumont (actress) (11 April 1903 - 11 April 1934) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (6)

Son of author George L. Du Maurier.
Father of playwright Guy du Maurier, author Daphne Du Maurier, and Angela Du Maurier.
He was created a Knight Bachelor in the 1922 King's New Year Honours List for his services to drama.
Grandfather of Tessa Browning (born in 1937), Flavia Browning (born in 1937), and Christian Frederick "Kits" Browning (born in 1940).
Father-in-law of Lieutenant General Sir Frederick A. M. Browning who was married to Daphne Du Maurier.
"In my opinion," Alfred Hitchcock told François Truffaut, Gerald du Maurier was "the best actor anywhere.".

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