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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gone But Not Forgotten


REX HARRISON
(5 March 1908 – 2 June 1990)


Born in England, starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the Liverpool Rep Theatre was nearly his last - dashing across the stage to say his one line, made his entrance and promptly blew it.

Fates were kind, however, and soon he began landing roles in the West End. "French Without Tears", a play by Terence Rattigan, proved to be his breakthrough role. Soon he was being called the "greatest actor of light comedy in the world".

Having divorced his first wife Collette Thomas in 1942, he married German actress Lilli Palmer. The two began appearing together in many plays and British films. He attained international fame when he portrayed the King in Ana y el rey de Siam (1946), his first American film.


Rex (by this time known as "Sexy Rexy" for his philandering ways and magnetic charm) began a relationship with British actress Kay Kendall and divorced Lili to marry the terminally ill Kay with hopes of a re-marriage to Palmer upon Kay's death. The death of Kay affected Harrison greatly and Lili never returned to him. During this time Rex was offered the defining role of his career: Professor Henry Higgins in the original production of "My Fair Lady". He won the Tony for the play and an Oscar for the film version.

In 1962 Harrison married actress Rachel Roberts. This union and the one following it to Elizabeth Harris (Richard's ex) also ended in divorce. In 1978 Rex met and married Mercia Tinker. He and Mercia remained happily married until his death in 1990. She was also with him in 1989 when he was granted his much-deserved and long awaited knighthood at Buckingham Palace. Rex Harrison died of pancreatic cancer three weeks after his last stage appearance, as Lord Porteous in W. Somerset Maugham's "The Circle".






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