Ralph Richardson - Rotten Tomatoes

Ralph Richardson

Highest Rated:   100% Khartoum (1966)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Tivoli Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the most esteemed British actors of the 20th century and one of his country's most celebrated eccentrics. Well into old age, he continued to enthrall audiences with his extraordinary acting skills -- and to irritate neighbors with his noisy motorbike outings, sometimes with a parrot on his shoulder. He collected paintings, antiquities, and white mice; acted Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Sophocles; and instructed theatergoers on the finer points of role-playing: "Acting," he said in a Time article, "is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing." Like the Dickens characters he sometimes portrayed, Richardson had a distinctly memorable attribute: a bulbous nose that sabotaged his otherwise noble countenance and made him entirely right for performances in tragedies, comedies, and tragicomedies. In testament to his knowledge of poetry and rhyme, he married a woman named Meriel after his first wife, Muriel, died. Fittingly, Ralph David Richardson was born in Shakespeare country -- the county of Gloucestershire -- in the borough of Cheltenham on December 19, 1902. There, his father taught art at Cheltenham Ladies' College. When he was a teenager, Ralph enrolled at Brighton School to take up the easel and follow in his father's brushstrokes. However, after receiving an inheritance of 500 pounds, he abandoned art school to pursue his real love: creating verbal portraits as an actor. After joining a roving troupe of thespians, the St. Nicholas Players, he learned Shakespeare and debuted as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice in 1921. By 1926, he had graduated to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and, four years later, appeared on the stage of England's grandest of playhouses, London's Old Vic. Ralph had arrived -- on the stage, at least. But another four years passed before he made his first film, The Ghoul, about a dead professor (Boris Karloff) who returns to life to find an Egyptian jewel stolen from his grave. Richardson, portraying cleric Nigel Hartley, is there on the night Karloff returns to unleash mayhem and mischief. From that less-than-auspicious beginning, Richardson went on to roles in more than 70 other films, many of them classics. One of them was director Carol Reed's 1948 film, The Fallen Idol, in which Richardson won the Best Actor Award from the U.S. National Board of Review for his portrayal of a butler suspected of murder. Three years later, he won a British Academy Award for his role in director David Lean's Breaking the Sound Barrier, about the early days of jet flight. In 1962, Richardson won the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actor Award for his depiction of James Tyrone Sr., the head of a dysfunctional family in playwright Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. Because of Richardson's versatility, major studios often recruited him for demanding supporting roles in lavish productions, such as director Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1954), Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960), David Lean's Dr. Zhivago (1965), and Basil Dearden's Khartoum (1966). While making these films, Richardson continued to perform on the stage -- often varooming to and from the theater on one of his motorbikes -- in such plays as Shakespeare's Henry IV (Part I and II), Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, and Sheridan's School for Scandal. He also undertook a smorgasbord of movie and TV roles that demonstrated his wide-ranging versatility. For example, he played God in Time Bandits (1981), the Chief Rabbit in Watership Down (1978), the crypt keeper in Tales From the Crypt (1972), the caterpillar in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972), Wilkins Micawber in TV's David Copperfield (1970), Simeon in TV's Jesus of Nazareth (1977), and Tarzan's grandfather in Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). In his spare time, he portrayed Dr. Watson on the radio. Sir Ralph Richardson died in 1983 of a stroke in Marylbone, London, England, leaving behind a rich film legacy and a th

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
34% Battleship
  • JPJ Starboard Gunner
$65.2M 2012
No Score Yet The Fugitive
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet I Wish I Had a House Like This
  • Screenwriter
2007
23% Give My Regards to Broad Street
  • Jim
1984
69% Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
  • Greystoke
1984
No Score Yet Invitation to a Wedding
  • Uncle Willie
1983
No Score Yet Wagner
  • Actor
1983
91% Time Bandits
  • Supreme Being/God
1981
86% Dragonslayer
  • Ulrich
1981
No Score Yet Early Days
  • Actor
1981
82% Watership Down
  • Chief Rabbit
1978
No Score Yet The Man in the Iron Mask
  • Colbert de Voliere
1977
No Score Yet Jesus of Nazareth
  • Simeon
1977
66% Rollerball
  • Librarian
1975
No Score Yet Frankenstein: The True Story
  • Mr. Lacey
1973
No Score Yet A Doll's House
  • Dr. Rank
1973
82% O Lucky Man!
  • Monty, Sir James Burgess
1973
88% Tales From the Crypt
  • Crypt Keeper
1972
No Score Yet Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Catepillar
1972
No Score Yet Home
  • Actor
1972
No Score Yet Lady Caroline Lamb
  • King
1972
57% Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?
  • Mr. Benton
1971
No Score Yet David Copperfield
  • Mr. Micawber
1970
75% Oh! What A Lovely War
  • Sir Edward Grey
1969
63% Battle of Britain
  • British Minister in Switzerland
1969
No Score Yet The Bed Sitting Room
  • Lord Fortnum of Alamein
1969
No Score Yet The Looking Glass War
  • LeClerc
1969
88% The Wrong Box
  • Joseph Finsbury
1966
100% Khartoum
  • Col. J.D.H. Stewart
1966
97% Chimes at Midnight
  • '''The Narrator'''Narrator
1965
No Score Yet Woman of Straw
  • Charles Richmond
1964
No Score Yet Hedda Gabler
  • Actor
1963
No Score Yet The 300 Spartans
  • Themistocles of Athens
1962
93% Long Day's Journey Into Night
  • James Tyrone
1962
64% Exodus
  • Gen. Sutherland
1960
No Score Yet Oscar Wilde
  • Sir Edward Carson
1960
87% Our Man in Havana
  • 'C'
1959
80% Richard III
  • Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham
1956
80% Breaking the Sound Barrier (The Sound Barrier)
  • John Ridgefield
1952
No Score Yet Outcast of the Islands
  • Captain Tom Lingard
1952
No Score Yet The Holly and the Ivy
  • Rev. Martin Gregory
1952
100% The Heiress
  • Dr. Austin Sloper
1950
100% The Fallen Idol
  • Baines
$58.2k 1949
No Score Yet Anna Karenina
  • Alexei Karenin
1948
No Score Yet Olivier's Shakespeare
  • Actor
1944
No Score Yet The Silver Fleet
  • Producer
  • Jaap van Leyden
1943
No Score Yet The Day Will Dawn
  • Frank Lockwood
1942
No Score Yet On the Night of the Fire
  • Will Kobling
1939
100% The Four Feathers
  • Capt. John Durrance
1939
No Score Yet Q Planes
  • Actor
1939
86% The Citadel
  • Denny
1938
No Score Yet South Riding
  • Robert Carne
1938
No Score Yet The Divorce of Lady X
  • Lord Mere
1938
No Score Yet The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (The Amazing Adventure)(Romance and Riches)
  • Waiter
1937
No Score Yet The Man Who Could Work Miracles
  • Col. Winstanley
1937
No Score Yet Thunder in the City
  • Henry Graham Manningdale
1937
92% Things to Come
  • Rudolph
1936
No Score Yet Bulldog Jack
  • Morelle
1935
No Score Yet Java Head
  • William Ammidon
1935
No Score Yet The Return Of Bulldog Drummond
  • Actor
1934
No Score Yet The Ghoul
  • Nigel Hartley
1933
No Score Yet Friday the 13th
  • Horace Dawes
1933

Quotes from Ralph Richardson's Characters