Ralph Richardson

Born Dec 19, 1902

Sir Ralph David Richardson was an English actor, one of a group of theatrical knights of the mid-20th century who, though more closely associated with the stage, also appeared in several classic films. Richardson first became known for his work on stage in the 1930s. In the 1940s, together with Laurence Olivier, he ran the Old Vic Company. He continued on stage and in films into the early 1980s and was especially praised for his comedic roles.… Read More

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1902 Birth Born in 1902.


1919 17 Years Old In 1919, aged sixteen, Richardson took a post as office boy with the Brighton branch of the Liverpool and Victoria insurance company. … Read More
1920 18 Years Old 1 More Event
Richardson left the art school in 1920, and considered how else he might make a career. … Read More
1921 19 Years Old Richardson made his first appearance as a professional actor at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, in August 1921, as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. … Read More


1923 - 1926 5 More Events
1928 26 Years Old 1 More Event
Richardson left the run of Yellow Sands in March 1928 and rejoined Ayliff, playing Pygmalion in Back to Methuselah at the Royal Court Theatre; also in the cast was a former colleague from the Birmingham Repertory, Laurence Olivier. … Read More
1929 27 Years Old For much of 1929 he toured South Africa in Gerald Lawrence's company in three period costume plays, including The School for Scandal, in which he played Joseph Surface. … Read More
1930 28 Years Old 1 More Event
In May 1930 Richardson was given the role of Roderigo in Othello in what seemed likely to be a prestigious production, with Paul Robeson in the title role. … Read More
For the following season Williams wanted Richardson to join, with a view to succeeding Gielgud from 1931 to 1932. … Read More


1932 - 1935 3 More Events
1936 34 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1936 London Films released Things to Come, in which Richardson played the swaggering warlord "The Boss". … Read More
1937 35 Years Old 1 More Event
In August of the same year he finally had a long-running star part, the title role in Barré Lyndon's comedy thriller, The Amazing Dr Clitterhouse, which played for 492 performances, closing in October 1937.
1939 37 Years Old 1 More Event
Richardson made his television debut in January 1939, reprising his 1936 stage role of the chief engineer in Bees on the Boatdeck. … Read More


1942 40 Years Old In 1942, on his way to visit his wife at the cottage where she was cared for by a devoted couple, Richardson crashed his motor-bike and was in hospital for several weeks. … Read More
1944 42 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1944 he married again. … Read More
1949 47 Years Old …  The piece was to open in February 1949 at Richardson's favourite theatre, the Haymarket. … Read More
1950 48 Years Old After one long run in The Heiress, Richardson appeared in another, RCSherriff's Home at Seven, in 1950. … Read More
1951 49 Years Old 1 More Event
Once he had played himself into a role in a long run, Richardson felt able to work during the daytime in films, and made two others in the early 1950s beside the film of the Sherriff piece: Outcast of the Islands, directed by Carol Reed, and David Lean's The Sound Barrier, released in 1951 and 1952 respectively. … Read More


1952 - 1954 3 More Events
1955 53 Years Old 1 More Event
The following year he worked with Olivier again, playing Buckingham to Olivier's Richard in the 1955 film of Richard III. … Read More
1956 54 Years Old Richardson's Timon of Athens in his 1956 return to the Old Vic was well received, as was his Broadway appearance in The Waltz of the Toreadors for which he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1957. … Read More
1957 55 Years Old The former, a sad piece about a failed and deluded insurance manager, ran for 435 performances in 1957–58; Richardson co-starred with three leading ladies in succession: Celia Johnson, Wendy Hiller and his wife. … Read More


1962 - 1971 6 More Events
1973 71 Years Old 1 More Event
The play was a hit with the public, and when Ashcroft left after four months, Celia Johnson took over until May 1973, when Richardson handed over to Andrew Cruickshank in the West End. … Read More
1975 73 Years Old Peter Hall, having succeeded Olivier as director of the National Theatre, was determined to attract Ashcroft, Gielgud and Richardson into the company. In 1975 he successfully offered Richardson the title role in Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman, with Ashcroft and Wendy Hiller in the two main female roles. … Read More
1978 76 Years Old …  He returned to the National, and to Chekhov, in 1978 as the aged retainer Firs in The Cherry Orchard. … Read More
1981 79 Years Old For television, Richardson played Simeon in Jesus of Nazareth (1977), made studio recordings of No Man's Land (1978) and Early Days (1982), and was a guest in the 1981 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show.
1982 80 Years Old His last radio broadcast was in 1982 in a documentary programme about Little Tich, whom he had watched at the Brighton Hippodrome before the First World War.
The friendship and professional association lasted until the end of Richardson's life. Gielgud wrote in 1983, "Besides cherishing our long years of work together in the theatre, where he was such an inspiring and generous partner, I grew to love him in private life as a great gentleman, a rare spirit, fair and balanced, devotedly loyal and tolerant and, as a companion, bursting with vitality, curiosity and humour."
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