Starred in A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Lost Horizon (1937) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). In 1947, he won Academy Award for Best Actor for film A Double Life.
Handcuffs or Kisses
The White Sister
The Eternal City
Twenty Dollars a Week
Her Night of Romance
A Thief in Paradise
His Supreme Moment
Her Sister from Paris
The Dark Angel
Lady Windermere’s Fan
The Winning of Barbara Worth
The Night of Love
The Magic Flame
The Devil to Pay!
The Unholy Garden
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back
Clive of India
The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo
Under Two Flags
If I Were King
The Light That Failed
My Life with Caroline
The Late George Apley
Champagne for Caesar
The Story of Mankind
Why should I go to dull parties and say dull things just because I wear greasepaint and make love to beautiful women on the screen? ~ Ronald Colman
Ronald Charles Colman was born in Richmond, Surrey, England. He was educated at boarding school in Littlehampton, where he discovered that he enjoyed acting, despite his shyness. He intended to study engineering at Cambridge, but his father’s sudden death from pneumonia in 1907 made it financially impossible.
He became a well-known amateur actor and was a member of the West Middlesex Dramatic Society in 1908–09. He made his first appearance on the professional stage in 1914.
in 1909, he joined the London Scottish Regiment. In October 1914, Colman was seriously wounded by shrapnel in his ankle, which gave him a limp that he would attempt to hide throughout the rest of his acting career. Therefore, he was invalided out of the British Army in 1915.
In 1916, he resumed acting on the British Stage. In 1920, Colman went to America and toured with Robert Warwick in The Dauntless Three, and subsequently toured with Fay Bainter in East is West.
Colman had first appeared in films in Britain in 1917 and 1919 for director Cecil Hepworth. While appearing on stage in New York in La Tendresse, Director Henry King saw him, and engaged him as the leading man in the 1923 film, The White Sister, opposite Lillian Gish, and he was an immediate success. Thereafter Colman virtually abandoned the stage for film.
He became a very popular silent film star in both romantic and adventure films, among them The Dark Angel (1925), Stella Dallas (1926), Beau Geste (1927) and The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926). His dark hair and eyes and his athletic and riding ability (he did most of his own stunts until late in his career) led reviewers to describe him as a “Valentino type”. He was often cast in similar, exotic roles. Towards the end of the silent era, Colman was teamed with Hungarian actress Vilma Bánky under Samuel Goldwyn and the two were a popular film team rivaling Greta Garbo and John Gilbert.
His first major talkie success was in 1930, when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for two roles – Condemned and Bulldog Drummond. He thereafter appeared in a number of notable films: Raffles in 1930, The Masquerader in 1933, Clive of India and A Tale of Two Cities in 1935, Under Two Flags, The Prisoner of Zenda and Lost Horizon in 1937, If I Were King in 1938 and Random Harvest and The Talk of the Town in 1942. He won the Best Actor Oscar in 1948 for A Double Life. He next starred in a screwball comedy, 1950’s Champagne for Caesar.
At the time of his death, Colman was contracted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for the lead role in Village of the Damned. However, Colman died and the film became a British production starring George Sanders, who had married Colman’s widow, Benita Hume.
Colman died on May 19, 1958, aged 67, from acute emphysema in Santa Barbara, California, and was interred in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.