Known for movies

Short Info

DiedJune 2, 1990, New York City, New York, United States
SpouseMercia Tinker, Elizabeth Rees-Williams, Rachel Roberts, Kay Kendall, Lilli Palmer, Noel Marjorie Collette Thomas
MarkA clipped, witty, off-the-cuff line delivery
FactHe was reportedly considered for the role of Nicholas II in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). However, a recent biography of producer Sam Spiegel revealed that Harrison was in fact never offered the part, since at 63 he was too old to play the Tsar, who was only fifty at the time of his death. Harrison was in fact offered the role of Count Witte, but replied, "Tell him [Spiegel] that I don't play bit parts.".
PaymentsEarned $4,000 /week from Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

Rex Harrison was an English actor who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in My Fair Lady. He is also known for his roles in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Cleopatra, and Doctor Dolittle.

Harrison was born in Huyton, Lancashire, on March 5, 1908. His parents were Edith Mary (née Bradley) and William Reginald Harrison. He had two sisters, Gladys and Louise. Harrison’s father was an engineer and his mother was a homemaker. He was educated at Liverpool College.

Harrison’s first acting role was in a school play. He later joined the Liverpool Repertory Theatre. His first professional role was in a touring production of Outward Bound. He later appeared in London’s West End in a production of The Circle.

Harrison’s film debut was in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). He later appeared in Cleopatra (1963), Doctor Dolittle (1967), and My Fair Lady (1964). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in My Fair Lady.

Harrison was married six times. His first wife was Lilli Palmer. His second wife was Rachel Roberts. His third wife was Kay Kendall. His fourth wife was Elizabeth Rees-Williams. His fifth wife was Mercia Tinker. His sixth and final wife was Sheila Sim. He had three children: Carey Harrison, Noel Harrison, and Julie Harrison.

Harrison died of cancer on June 2, 1990, at his home in London, England. He was 82 years old.

General Info

Full NameRex Harrison
DiedJune 2, 1990, New York City, New York, United States
Height1.85 m
EducationLiverpool College


SpouseMercia Tinker, Elizabeth Rees-Williams, Rachel Roberts, Kay Kendall, Lilli Palmer, Noel Marjorie Collette Thomas
ChildrenNoel Harrison, Carey Harrison
ParentsWilliam Reginald Harrison, Edith Mary


AwardsAcademy Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play, Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor, Special Tony Award, G...
NominationsGolden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture – Drama, Golden Globe Henrietta Award for World Film Favorites, BAFTA Award for Best British Actor, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, Laurence Olivier Award for Actor of the Year in a Revival
MoviesMy Fair Lady, Cleopatra, Doctor Dolittle, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Anna and the King of Siam, Blithe Spirit, Unfaithfully Yours, Midnight Lace, Night Train to Munich, The Honey Pot, The Reluctant Debutante, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, Major Barbara, Storm in a Teacup, King Ric...

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#Marks / Signs
1The role of Professor Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady"
2A clipped, witty, off-the-cuff line delivery
3Adopted his "Henry Higgins" hat as his favorite form of headwear


The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)$250,000
My Fair Lady (1964)$250,000
Cleopatra (1963)$300,000
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)$4,000 /week


1Lana Turner is to an evening gown what Frank Lloyd Wright is to a pile of lumber.
2His reply to how he felt being Knighted by the Queen on July 25th 1989: It was a marvelous moment kneeling there and getting tapped on the shoulder.
3Originally I had a block about appearing in a musical. I went to a voice teacher for a while, but that did no good. My range is about one and a half notes. I ended up talking the musical numbers, which was revolutionary at the time. The lyrics are extremely intricate. They move along like a precisely acted scene. If you miss a word - heaven help you - the orchestra rattles past like an express train, and you've got to run like the devil to catch up.
4My contract for 'My Fair Lady' was for nine months only - but how could you leave a show like that? It was all far too exciting, and I stayed with it for two years.
5The important thing is to learn through experience. The more you do the more you learn. I don't think anyone can teach acting from a podium.
6Eliza Doolittle is supposed to be ill at ease in European ballrooms. Bloody Audrey has never spent a day in her life out of European ballrooms. - On My Fair Lady (1964)
7Heston is an enormously tall man - if I'm six foot one, he must be about six foot three - and I asked my wardrobe man, as I was wearing long robes, to put a little lift in my shoes, so that I could gain a couple of inches, and meet Heston at his own level. The lifts were duly put in, and I eyed Heston and congratulated myself that at least he no longer towered above me. As the film went on, however, it seemed to me that he was growing. Eyeball to eyeball he was once more a couple of inches taller than I. I looked down at his feet - not a sign of lifts! He must have grown through sheer tenacity. Nether of us made any comment, nor did our wardrobe men - it was a very funny, silent contest. - On making The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) with Charlton Heston
8Wives are like gilt-edged stocks. The more you have, the greater your dividends.
9[1980]: I'm now at the age where I've got to prove that I'm just as good as I never was.
10It takes a long time to learn to treat the camera as a friend and confidant, which finally you have to do if you're to become a good film actor.
11[Rex's son, Noel Harrison, recalling sitting watching a storm with his father and Rex exclaiming this when a bolt of lightning obliterated a tree in their yard]: Well hit, God!
12by Rachel Roberts, Harrison's fourth wife]: Rex cannot be pleased. Servants have got slapped with his tongue or hand. Eventually his servants and wives leave him. Rex is one of those who thinks living well is the best revenge. It may be, but the revenge is taken out on his nearest and dearest.
13[After viewing The Sound of Music (1965)]: That was the only time I've ever rooted for the Nazis.
14Whatever it is that makes a person charming, it needs to remain a mystery once the charmer is aware of a mannerism or characteristic that others find charming, it ceases to be a mannerism and becomes an affectation. And good Lord, there is nothing less charming than affectations!
15When I was ten we moved and I decided that none of the names I was then called - Reggie, Bobby, Baa - suited me. Somehow I hit on Rex. I must have heard someone calling for their dog and thought it sounded rather nice.
16Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it.
17There is always a struggle, a striving for something bigger than yourself in all forms of art. And even if you don't achieve greatness, even if you fail, which we all must, everything you do in your work is somehow connected with your attitude toward life, your deepest secret feelings.
18[When asked if he received any special privileges upon becoming a knight]: Alas, no. In the old days I believe you at least got a couple of horses out of the deal.


1He starred in two films that almost ruined Twentieth Century Fox - Cleopatra (1963) and Doctor Dolittle (1967). The latter effectively destroyed his careers as a leading man.
2He also starred in a play at the Santa Monica Playhouse in the 1980's.
3He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.
4Twice appeared with fellow Academy Award winner Claudette Colbert late in their careers in Broadway productions; "The Kingfisher" by William Douglas-Home opening at the Biltmore Theatre on December 16, 1978 running for 181 performances and "Aren't We All" by Frederick Lonsdale opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on April 2, 1985 running for 93 performances.
5First came to notice in the London stage version of "French Without Tears" in 1937, but was not considered for the 1940 film version since he was unknown in Hollywood.
6Contrary to some sources, Harrison was never considered to play James Bond in Dr. No (1962) because of his age.
7Harrison nearly missed out on reprising his stage role of Henry Higgins in the film version of My Fair Lady (1964), since he was in his mid-fifties and the character was supposed to be in his late thirties.
8Continued to act on Broadway until almost the very end of his life despite suffering from pancreatic cancer, painful teeth and glaucoma in his only eye.
9Quit smoking after suffering from pains in his legs.
10He never had any acting lessons.
11Retired from films after making The Fifth Musketeer (1979), but continued to act on Broadway and television.
12In a 1963 interview his friend Dirk Bogarde named Harrison as the actor who had influenced him most.
13Won a 1969 Special Tony Award (New York City).
14He was reportedly considered for the role of Nicholas II in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). However, a recent biography of producer Sam Spiegel revealed that Harrison was in fact never offered the part, since at 63 he was too old to play the Tsar, who was only fifty at the time of his death. Harrison was in fact offered the role of Count Witte, but replied, "Tell him [Spiegel] that I don't play bit parts.".
15When filming Doctor Dolittle (1967), was frequently bitten by the animals.
16Chuck Jones has stated that Bugs Bunny's character was based on an amalgam of Rex Harrison, Dorothy Parker and D'Artagnan.
17His first name [Rex] means 'King' in Latin.
18He was the brother-in-law of David Maxwell Fyfe, one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials, the British Home Secretary from 1951 to 1954 and the Lord Chancellor from 1954 to 1962.
19Discovered Carole Landis' body the day she committed suicide. He had dined with her the previous night.
20He had a reputation for being very abrupt with his fans. One night, after a stage performance of "My Fair Lady", it was late, cold and pouring with rain and there was an old woman standing alone outside the Stage Door. When she saw Rex, she asked him for his autograph. Rex told her to "Sod off", and the old woman was so enraged at this that she rolled up her program and hit him with it. Stanley Holloway, who had followed Rex out in time to see this, congratulated him on not only making theater history but, for the first time in world history, "the fan has hit the shit!".
21Despite extensive vocal training after landing the part of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964), he was unable to sing a note. In the end the director gave up and told him to quasi-speak the whole thing.
22One of only eight actors to have won both a Tony and an Oscar for having portrayed the same role on stage and screen ("My Fair Lady"). The others are: Joel Grey ("Cabaret"); Shirley Booth ("Come Back, Little Sheba"); Yul Brynner ("The King and I"); Anne Bancroft ("The Miracle Worker"); Paul Scofield ("A Man For All Seasons"); Jack Albertson ("The Subject Was Roses") and José Ferrer ("Cyrano de Bergerac").
23Is the basis for the voice of Stewie Griffin on Family Guy (1999).
24When he accepted his Academy Award for My Fair Lady (1964), he dedicated it to his "two fair ladies", Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews. Andrews had played Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway production, but was passed over for the film version in favor of Hepburn.
25Turned down the lead role in 13 Rue Madeleine (1946). It then went to James Cagney.
26Once punched Frank Sinatra in the jaw, thinking the singer was hitting on his wife, Lilli Palmer. Afterwards the two men became good friends.
27Turned down the role of the Prince in the Broadway production of Noël Coward's "The Girl Who Came To Supper" in order to do My Fair Lady (1964). The role went to José Ferrer.
28Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England at the age of 81. [1989]
29Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1965.
30Won three Tony Awards: in 1949, as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "Anne of the Thousand Days"; in 1957, as Best Actor (Musical) for "My Fair Lady", which he recreated in an Oscar-winning performance in the film version of the same title, My Fair Lady (1964) and a Special Tony Award in 1969. He was also nominated in 1984 as Best Actor (Play) for his role as Capt. Shotover in George Bernard Shaw's "Heartbreak House".
31Was cremated and part of his ashes were scattered in Italy in Portofino and on the grave of his second wife, Lilli Palmer.
32Grandfather of Cathryn Harrison, Harriet Harrison, Simon Harrison, Chloe Harrison and Will Harrison.
33Father, with Collette Thomas, of actor Noel Harrison.
34Father, with Lilli Palmer, of Carey Harrison, born in 1944.
35Has a style of hat named after him.
36Was almost completely blind in one eye as the result of a childhood bout of measles.
37Frequently wore a specific ring with a dark square-cut stone, on his little finger of his left hand. It appears in almost all of his films.
38Was so fanatical about wine that he often sent the bottles back if it was not to his liking, sometimes even to his own wine cellar.
39Died three weeks after his final stage appearance as Lord Porteous in "The Circle" (1990).
40Turned down the role of The King in The King and I (1956). The role went to Yul Brynner. He previously played the role in Anna and the King of Siam (1946).
41Hated the nickname given to him by the press, "Sexy Rexy".
42Winner of 2 Tony Awards for Best actor for "Anne of the Thousand Days" and "My Fair Lady".




Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna1986TV MovieGrand Duke Cyril Romanov
Great Performances1985TV SeriesCaptain Shotover
The Kingfisher1983TV MovieCecil
A Time to Die1982Van Osten
Titanic in a Tub: The Golden Age of Toy Boats1981ShortNarrator (voice)
The Fifth Musketeer1979Colbert
Ashanti1979Brian Walker
Shalimar1978Sir John Locksley
Crossed Swords1977The Duke of Norfolk
BBC Play of the Month1971-1973TV SeriesDon Quixote Mikhail Platonov, schoolmaster
Staircase1969Charles Dyer
A Flea in Her Ear1968Victor Chandebisse / Poche
Doctor Dolittle1967Dr. John Dolittle
The Honey Pot1967Cecil Sheridan Fox
The Agony and the Ecstasy1965Pope Julius II
The Yellow Rolls-Royce1964Lord Charles Frinton - The Marquess of Frinton
My Fair Lady1964Professor Henry Higgins
Cleopatra1963Julius Caesar
The Happy Thieves1961Jimmy Bourne
Midnight Lace1960Anthony Preston
Dow Hour of Great Mysteries1960TV SeriesCyril Paxton
Startime1960TV SeriesFred Cortin
The Reluctant Debutante1958Jimmy Broadbent
The DuPont Show of the Month1957TV SeriesMr. Sir
Marriage a la Mode1955The Patient - Charles Hathaway
King Richard and the Crusaders1954Emir Hderim Sultan Saladin
The United States Steel Hour1953TV SeriesRaymond Dabney
Main Street to Broadway1953Rex Harrison
This Is London1953ShortNarrator (voice)
Omnibus1952TV SeriesHenry VIII
The Four Poster1952John Edwards
The Long Dark Hall1951Arthur Groome
The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre1950TV Series
Unfaithfully Yours1948Sir Alfred De Carter
Escape1948Matt Denant
The Foxes of Harrow1947Stephen Fox
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir1947Capt. Daniel Gregg
Anna and the King of Siam1946King Mongkut
Notorious Gentleman1945Vivian Kenway
Journey Together1945Guest (uncredited)
A Yank in London1945Major David Bruce
Blithe Spirit1945Charles Condomine
Major Barbara1941Adolphus Cusins
Night Train to Munich1940Dickie Randall a.k.a. Gus Bennett
Ten Days in Paris1940Bob Stevens
Continental Express1939Jacques Sauvin
Over the Moon1939Dr. Freddie Jarvis
Villa for Sale1938TV Short
The Citadel1938Dr. Lawford
Sidewalks of London1938Harley Prentiss
School for Husbands1937Leonard Drummond
Storm in a Teacup1937Frank Burdon
Men Are Not Gods1936Tommy
All at Sea1936Aubrey Bellingham
Leave It to Blanche1934Ronnie
Get Your Man1934Tom Jakes
School for Scandal1930Bit Part (uncredited)
The Great Game1930George


20 to 12011TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros.1991TV Movie documentary performer: "The Rain in Spain" - uncredited
Doctor Dolittle1967performer: "The Vegetarian", "Talk To The Animals", "When I Look In Your Eyes", "Like Animals", "Fabulous Places", "I Think I Like You"
My Fair Lady1964performer: "Why Can't the English?" 1956, "I'm an Ordinary Man" 1956, "The Rain in Spain" 1956, "You Did It" 1956, "A Hymn to Him Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man" 1956, "Without You" 1956, "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" 1956 - uncredited
The Fabulous Fifties1960Documentary performer: "I'm An Ordinary Man"
Night Train to Munich1940"If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight" / performer: "Only Love Can Lead the Way" uncredited, "It's True" uncredited, "Your Heart Skips a Beat"


The Long Dark Hall1951associate producer


Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood2001TV Movie documentary dedicated to the memory of


Love, Marilyn2012DocumentaryJulius Caesar (uncredited)
The Evening Standard Drama Awards1988TV SpecialHimself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts1985TV SpecialHimself
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1985TV SeriesHimself
The 39th Annual Tony Awards1985TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Best Actress in a Play
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts1981TV Special documentaryHimself - Presenter: Cary Grant
Frank Sinatra: The Main Event1974TV Movie documentaryHimself - Audience Member (uncredited)
Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love1974TV MovieHimself - Host
The 27th Annual Tony Awards1973TV SpecialHimself - Co-Host
V.I.P.-Schaukel1971TV Series documentaryHimself
The David Frost Show1969TV SeriesHimself
The 23rd Annual Tony Awards1969TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Special Award
Today1968TV SeriesHimself
The Joey Bishop Show1967TV SeriesHimself
Cinema1967TV Series documentaryHimself
Hollywood Talent Scouts1966TV SeriesHimself
The 38th Annual Academy Awards1966TV SpecialHimself - Presenter: Best Actress in a Leading Role
Flashes Festival1965Documentary shortHimself
The 37th Annual Academy Awards1965TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Best Actor in a Leading Role & Presenter: Best Foreign Language Film
The Ed Sullivan Show1952-1964TV SeriesHimself
The Fairest Fair Lady1964Documentary shortHimself
The Fabulous Fifties1960Documentary
The 11th Annual Tony Awards1957TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Distinguished Musical Actor
Person to Person1954TV Series documentaryHimself - Actor
The Kate Smith Evening Hour1951TV SeriesHimself
The Colgate Comedy Hour1951TV SeriesHimself / Himself - Actor
The Saturday Night Revue with Jack Carter1951TV SeriesHimself
Your Show of Shows1950TV SeriesHimself - Guest Performer
On Stage!1949Documentary shortHimself

Archive Footage

Charmed Lives: A Family RomanceDocumentary pre-productionHimself
The Simpsons2015TV SeriesDr. John Dolittle
Michael Grade's Stars of the Musical Theatre2014TV Movie documentary
Secret Voices of Hollywood2013TV Movie documentaryHimself
Casting By2012DocumentaryHimself
Dai nostri inviati: La Rai e l'Istituto Luce raccontano la Mostra del cinema di Venezia 1932-19532012TV Movie documentaryHimself
20 to 12010TV Series documentaryProfessor Henry Higgins
Hollywood Singing & Dancing: A Musical History - 1960's2009Video documentaryHimself
Family Guy: Creating the Chaos2009TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Naked Archaeologist2008TV Series documentaryPope Julius II
Broadway: The American Musical2004TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself / Professor Henry Higgins (in 'My Fair Lady')
Ça c'est l'amour2003Video shortHimself
Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood2001TV Movie documentaryHimself
Omnibus2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Sir John Mills' Moving Memories2000Video documentaryHimself
Twentieth Century Fox: The Blockbuster Years2000TV Movie documentaryDr. John Dolittle
Biography1995-1998TV Series documentaryHimself / Actor 'Unfaithfully Yours'
The 50th Annual Tony Awards1996TV SpecialHenry Higgins
The Making of 'My Fair Lady'1995Video documentaryHimself / Professor Henry Higgins
'Doctor Zhivago': The Making of a Russian Epic1995TV Special documentaryHimself (uncredited)
Margret Dünser, auf der Suche nach den Besonderen1981TV Movie documentaryHimself
Bob Hope's World of Comedy1976TV MovieHimself
Texaco Presents: A Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television1975TV SpecialHimself
Fred Astaire Salutes the Fox Musicals1974TV MovieHimself
The Ed Sullivan Show1965-1967TV SeriesDr. Doolittle / Himself - Actor
Mondo Hollywood1967DocumentaryHimself (uncredited)
The Car That Became a Star1965Documentary shortThe Marquess of Frinton
Zwischen Glück und Krone1959DocumentaryHimself


Won Awards

1965Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsMusical Performance, MaleMy Fair Lady (1964)
1965OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleMy Fair Lady (1964)
1965Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Actor - Comedy or MusicalMy Fair Lady (1964)
1965DavidDavid di Donatello AwardsBest Foreign Actor (Migliore Attore Straniero)My Fair Lady (1964)
1964NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorMy Fair Lady (1964)
1963NBR AwardNational Board of Review, USABest ActorCleopatra (1963)
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6904 Hollywood Blvd.
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameTelevisionOn 8 February 1960. At 6390 Hollywood Blvd.

Nominated Awards

1968Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Actor - Comedy or MusicalDoctor Dolittle (1967)
1966Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Actor - DramaThe Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
1966Henrietta AwardGolden Globes, USAWorld Film Favorite - Male
1966BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorMy Fair Lady (1964)
1966Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsMale Star10th place.
1966Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsDramatic Performance, MaleThe Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
1965Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsMale Star4th place.
1964OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleCleopatra (1963)
1964Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Actor - DramaCleopatra (1963)

2nd Place Awards

1964Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsTop Male Dramatic PerformanceCleopatra (1963)

3rd Place Awards

1946NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorAnna and the King of Siam (1946)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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