John Gielgud

Actor + Director + Producer
Born Apr 14, 1904
Hometown London
Died May 21, 2000
Death Place Buckinghamshire
Other Names Arthur John Gielgud

Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet, which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. He was known for his beautiful speaking of verse and particularly for his warm and expressive voice, which his colleague Sir Alec Guinness likened to "a silver trumpet muffled in silk".… Read More

related links


Check out the latest love interests for John Gielgud.


Discover the family history of John Gielgud.

John Gielgud
John Gielgud


  • Frank Gielgud
    Frank Gielgud
  • Kate Terry
    Kate Terry


News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about John Gielgud.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of John Gielgud.


1904 Birth Born on April 14, 1904.


1917 13 Years Old After Hillside Preparatory School in Godalming, Surrey he won a scholarship to Westminster School where he started his public school life in September 1917 as a weekly boarder, and where he was elected a non-resident Kings Scholar in 1918. … Read More
1921 17 Years Old But when he was about 16 he made a decision to become an actor and in July 1921 he auditioned for, and won, a scholarship at the drama school which Lady Benson, Sir Frank's wife, ran off the Cromwell Road.
1922 18 Years Old In 1922 he took his first salaried job in the professional theatre when his second cousin, Phyllis Neilson-Terry, offered him the chance to tour with her. … Read More


1924 - 1927 3 More Events
1928 24 Years Old Gielgud's brother Val Gielgud became the head of BBC Radio Production in 1928, and John made his radio debut there the following year in a version of Pirandello's The Man With the Flower in His Mouth, which he was then performing at the Old Vic Theatre. … Read More
1929 25 Years Old In 1929 Lilian Baylis of the Old Vic appointed a new director, Harcourt Williams, and he asked Gielgud if he would join the Old Vic as a leading actor in the company he was forming. … Read More
1930 26 Years Old Gielgud had triumphs in many other plays, notably his greatest popular success Richard of Bordeaux (1933) (a romantic version of the story of Richard II), The Importance of Being Earnest which he first performed at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1930 and which remained in his repertory until 1947, and a legendary production of Romeo and Juliet (1935) which Gielgud directed and alternated the roles of Romeo and Mercutio with a young Laurence Olivier in his first professional Shakespearean leading role. … Read More


1934 30 Years Old He returned to the role of Hamlet in a famous production under his own direction in 1934 at the New Theatre in the West End.
1936 32 Years Old 1 More Event
He was hailed as a Broadway star in Guthrie McClintic's production in which Lillian Gish played Ophelia in 1936. (The production's popularity was assisted when a rival staging featuring film star Leslie Howard opened shortly afterward and was critically denounced in comparison to Gielgud's. … Read More
…  A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. … Read More
1938 34 Years Old In August 1938 Gielgud was offered a big salary to play in Dodie Smith's Dear Octopus with Marie Tempest and tired of the worry of management, he accepted. … Read More


1948 44 Years Old It became rumoured that Gielgud also provided the voice for the uncredited role of the Ghost of Hamlet's Father in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version, but the voice was actually that of Olivier, electronically distorted.
1953 49 Years Old …  He stood behind Gielgud during the 1953 scandal, and, with Perry, took the risk of backing Gielgud's Queen's Theatre season. … Read More


1964 - 1978 4 More Events
1980 76 Years Old In 1980, he played the role of Nerva in the Penthouse-funded film Caligula.
1991 87 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1991, Gielgud was able to satisfy his life's ambition by immortalising his Prospero on screen in Peter Greenaway's extremely offbeat version of The Tempest, a film called Prospero's Books in which Gielgud voiced every single character in the play. … Read More
1994 90 Years Old Gielgud gave one of his final radio performances in the title role of an All Star production of King Lear in 1994 that was mounted to celebrate his 90th birthday. … Read More
1996 92 Years Old In 1996 he played a wizard in the TV adaptation of Gulliver's Travels. … Read More
Gielgud's final television performance was on film in Merlin in 1998, his final television studio appearance having been in A Summer Day's Dream recorded in 1994 for the BBC 2 Performance series. … Read More
2000 96 Years Old Died on May 21, 2000.
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.