Best known for his roles in Brief Encounter, Father Goose, and his Academy Award nominated role in Sons and Lovers.
The Way Ahead
The Way to the Stars
I See a Dark Stranger
Green for Danger
They Made Me a Fugitive
So Well Remembered
The Passionate Friends
The Clouded Yellow
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Outcast of the Islands
The Heart of the Matter
La mano dello straniero
Les amants du Tage
The Cockleshell Heroes
Run for the Sun
The Roots of Heaven
Man in the Middle
The Poppy Is Also a Flower
The Long Duel
Battle of Britain
The Night Visitor
To Catch a Spy
Mary, Queen of Scots
A Doll’s House
Persecution (aka Sheba, The Graveyard, The Terror of Sheba)
Cause for Concern
The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones
The Last Remake of Beau Geste
The Shillingbury Blowers
The Sea Wolves
Sir Henry at Rawlinson End
Arch of Triumph
Light Years Away, aka Les Années lumière
The Great Muppet Caper
Sword of the Valiant
God Rot Tunbridge Wells!
Time After Time
I’ve been number two in films for donkey’s years. ~ Trevor Howard
Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born September 29 1913 in Cliftonville, Kent, England, the son of Mabel Grey (Wallace) and Arthur John Howard. His father was an insurance underwriter for Lloyds of London and he spent the first eight years of his life traveling around the world. He was educated at Clifton College (to which he left in his will a substantial legacy for a drama scholarship) and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). In 1933, at the end of his first year, he was chosen as best actor in his class for his performance as Benedict in a school production of Much Ado About Nothing. While Howard was still studying, he made his professional debut at the Gate Theatre in Revolt in a Reformatory (1934).
When he left school, he worked regularly on stage, including in Sheridan’s Rivals, several performances at Stratford Upon Avon, and in a two-year run of French Without Tears.
In 1943, he was discharged from the British Army for mental instability and having a “psychopathic personality”.
After a theatrical role in The Recruiting Officer (1943), Trevor Howard began working in films with an uncredited part The Way Ahead (1944), directed by Carol Reed. He was in a big stage hit, A Soldier for Christmas (1944) and a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie (1944). Howard received his first credit for The Way to the Stars (1945), playing a pilot.
Howard’s performance in The Way Ahead came to the attention of David Lean, who was looking for someone to play the role of Alec in Brief Encounter (1945). Lean recommended him to Noël Coward, who agreed with the suggestion, and the success of the film launched Howard’s film career.
He followed it with I See a Dark Stranger (1946) with Deborah Kerr, and Green for Danger (1947). Both films were successful as was They Made Me a Fugitive (1947). That year British exhibitors voted Howard the 10th most popular British star at the box office. So Well Remembered (1948) was made with American talent and money and was a hit in Britain but lost money overall.
Howard was reunited with Lean for The Passionate Friends (1949), but the film was not a success. However, The Third Man (1949), which Howard starred in alongside Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten was a huge international success, and became the film of which Howard was most proud.
Howard was the lead in Golden Salamander (1950) and played Peter Churchill in Odette (1950) with Anna Neagle, a big hit in Britain. It was directed by Herbert Wilcox who put Howard under contract. He loaned Howard to Betty Box and Ralph Thomas to make The Clouded Yellow (1950), a popular thriller with Jean Simmons. These films helped Howard be voted the 2nd biggest British star at the box office in 1951 and the 5th biggest (and eleventh bigger over-all) in 1951.
Howard was reunited with Carol Reed for Outcast of the Islands (1952) and he made a war film, Gift Horse (1952). That year he made his final appearance in Britain’s ten most popular actors, coming in at number nine. He was in an adaptation of a Graham Greene story, The Heart of the Matter (1953). Greene also wrote and produced Howard’s next film, the British-Italian The Stranger’s Hand (1954). Howard was in a French movie, The Lovers of Lisbon (1955), then supported Jose Ferrer in a war film from Warwick Pictures, The Cockleshell Heroes (1955), which was popular in Britain.
Howard’s first Hollywood film was Run for the Sun (1956), where he played a villain to Richard Widmark’s hero. He made a cameo in Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and again played a villain to an American star, Victor Mature, in Warwick’s Interpol (1957).
Howard starred in Manuela (1957) then supported William Holden in Carol Reed’s The Key (1958), for which he received the Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. When William Holden dropped out of the lead of The Roots of Heaven (1958), Howard stepped in – the star part in a Hollywood film (although top billing went to Errol Flynn).
After a thriller Moment of Danger (1960) he was in Sons and Lovers (1960), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for a BAFTA on four other occasions. and received two other Emmy nominations, one as a lead and the other as a supporting actor. He also received three Golden Globe Award nominations.
Howard was reunited with Holden for The Lion (1962). He was Captain Bligh to Marlon Brando’s Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). He supported Robert Mitchum in Man in the Middle (1964) and Cary Grant in Father Goose (1964). After a cameo in Operation Crossbow (1965), Howard supported Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan’s Express (1965), Brando and Yul Brynner in Morituri (1965), and Rod Taylor in The Liquidator (1965). After a cameo in The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) he made two with Brynner, Triple Cross (1966) and The Long Duel (1967).
Howard had a change of pace supporting Hayley Mills in Pretty Polly (1968). He went back to military roles: The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), as Lord Cardigan, and Battle of Britain (1969). He had support parts in Lola (1969) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970), the latter for David Lean.
He made a Swedish film The Night Visitor (1971) then settled into a career as a character actor: To Catch a Spy (1971), supporting Kirk Douglas; Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), as Sir William Cecil; Kidnapped (1971); Pope Joan (1972); Ludwig (1972); The Offence (1972), with Sean Connery; A Doll’s House (1973), for Joseph Losey; Who? (1974), supporting Elliot Gould.
He was in some horror films – Craze (1974), Persecution (1974) – and the more prestigious 11 Harrowhouse (1974). In The Count of Monte Cristo (1975) he mentored Richard Chamberlain. He was military men in Hennessy (1975) and Conduct Unbecoming (1975). Around this time he complained that he had to work so hard because of the high rate of tax in Britain.
Howard could be found in Albino (1976), shot in Rhodesia; The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1976); Aces High (1976); Eliza Fraser (1976), shot in Australia; The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977); and Stevie (1978). He was one of many names in Superman (1978), Hurricane (1979), Meteor (1979) and The Sea Wolves (1980). He appeared in a TV series Shillingbury Tales (1980-81) and had a rare lead in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980). Howard was also top billed in Windwalker (1981).
Howard managed to appear in some prestigious movies towards the end of his career: The Deadly Game (1982), The Missionary (1982), Gandhi (1982), George Washington (1984), Shaka Zulu (1986), Dust (1985) and Peter the Great (1986).
At the time of filming White Mischief (1988) on location in Kenya during 1987, Howard was seriously ill and suffering from alcoholism. The company wanted to sack him, but co-star Sarah Miles was determined that Howard’s distinguished film career would not end that way.
He died on January 7, 1988 from hepatic failure and cirrhosis of the liver in Arkley, Barnet, aged 74, and was survived by his widow Helen Cherry.