"How do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps
just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor."
English actor of British and American films, James Mason was born
on May 15, 1909, Hudersfield, Yorkshire, England. He attended Marlborough
and Cambridge, where he discovered acting on a lark and abandoned
a planned career as an architect. Following work in stock companies,
he joined the Old Vic under the guidance of Sir
Tyrone Guthrie and of Alexander
Korda, who gave Mason at least one small film role in 1933,
but fired him a few days into shooting. Mason remained in the theatre
becoming a prominent stage actor, meanwhile getting first small,
then rapidly larger roles in "quota quickies", minor films
made to accommodate laws mandating a certain percentage of films
shown in Britain to be British-made. Mason's talent for playing
protagonists of a decidedly hard-bitten or melancholy stripe brought
him from these minor films to a position as one of Britain's major
film stars of the Forties in such films as Odd
Man Out and The
late in that decade, he came to America, he played somewhat more
glamorous or heroic roles than he had been accustomed to in Britain,
but he remained a dynamic and intelligent force on the screen. Some
of his best films include Julius Caeser, North
by Northwest, 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea, Journey
to the Center of the Earth.
tendency to take any job offered led him to have many unworthy credits
on his resume, but throughout his career he remained a respected
and powerful figure in the industry.
mellifluous voice and an uncanny ability to suggest rampant emotion
beneath a face of absolute calm made him a fascinating performer
to watch. He died of a heart attack in 1984 at his home in Switzerland.
of this bio is by Jim
should not be confused with the American actor, Jim Mason (I),
aka Jim Mason, who appeared in silent films, particularly Westerns
in the Twenties and Thirties.
had been considered for the part of Harry Lime in "The Third
Man" TV series (1959-60) but 'Michael Rennie (I)' ended up
in the role.
avowed pacifist, he refused to perform military service during
the Second World War, a stance that caused his family to break
with him for many years.
of Morgan Mason
responsible for getting an unknown actor from New Zealand his
first major film role. That actor was Sam