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Brian Aherne Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (11)

Overview (4)

Born in King's Norton, Worcestershire, England, UK
Died in Venice, Florida, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameWilliam Brian de Lacy Aherne
Height 6' 3½" (1.92 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Brian Aherne was an Oscar-nominated Anglo-American stage and screen actor who was one of the top cinema character actors in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Born on May 2, 1902 in King's Norton, Worcestshire, England, Aherne performed as an actor as a child. At age 18 he made his debut as an adult with the company that would evolve into the world-famous Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Three years later, he made his debut in London's West End, the English equivalent of Broadway. After his experience in Birmingham, Aherne studied architecture, but a life as an actor was too strong to resist, so he returned to the theater in 1923. For the next eight years, he toured the provinces and appeared in the West End in various productions. In 1931, he made his Broadway debut playing Robert Browning in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street." He alternated between the New York and London stage in the early 1930s. Aherne made his movie debut in 1924, and by the mid-1930s, he moved to Hollywood. In 1940, he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for Juarez (1939) for playing the Emperor Maximillian. Brian Aherne published his autobiography in 1969, and 10 years later, he published a biography of his friend George Sanders, entitled "A Dreadful Man". He died at age 83 of heart failure on February 10, 1986 in Venice, Florida.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Eleanor de Liagre Labrot (27 January 1946 - 10 February 1986) ( his death)
Joan Fontaine (20 August 1939 - 14 June 1945) ( divorced)

Trivia (18)

Brother of Patrick Aherne.
Ex-brother-in-law of Olivia de Havilland and Renee Houston.
Educated in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England and at Malvern College, Worcestshire.
Trained as a child at the Italia Conti's School in London, making his stage debut aged 9 in Birmingham.
Studied architecture following his career as a child actor but returned to the stage in 1923 in a revival of "Paddy the Next Best Thing" at the Savoy Theatre, London.
Had a pilot's license and owned a plane.
Had played King Arthur in two different films: Prince Valiant (1954) and Sword of Lancelot (1963).
Had appeared with Rosalind Russell in four films: Hired Wife (1940), My Sister Eileen (1942), What a Woman! (1943) and Rosie! (1967).
Brother-in-law of Broadway producer Alfred De Liagre Jr..
He had a stepdaughter, Leonie Labrot Gately. She had five sons: Peter, Terry, William, Timothy and Scott.
On Feb. 8, 1980, he was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine St.
Wrote a biography of his friend George Sanders entitled "A Dreadful Man", which contained much autobiographical information.
In 1945 he traveled to Italy, France, Holland and Germany to perform for the troops in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street".
Brian Aherne performed the role Professor Henry Higgins for one year, in the first roadshow Chicago company of "My Fair Lady" during the 1957-58 season. Bill Hargate was his personal wardrobe dresser during the run of the show. Sally Ann Howes performed the role Liza Doolittle opposite Brian Aherne's role Professor Henry Higgins during the entire first year roadshow "My Fair Lady" Chicago engagement.
While married to Joan Fontaine, he lived on the Hollywood hilltop property where North Crescent Heights Blvd. ends, above and adjacent to Hollywood Blvd. and Laurel Canyon Blvd. The "U" plan two-story Colonial mansion faced southeast with a view of both Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. The front four-columned front porch, with tall French doors, opened into the center foyer with a curved staircase leading upstairs to a central hall landing, with bedrooms and guest quarters left and right of the upstairs wings. On the main floor the large living space and a library room, each with fireplace, was left of the staircase. To the right of the foyer staircase was the grand dining room with a fireplace, butler's pantry, main kitchen, with servant quarters located behind the kitchen. In the open "U" courtyard was a swimming pool, with garages and chauffeur quarters as a separate backup building. The front circular concrete driveway connected to an unpaved dirt road which connected to the city-maintained asphalt North Crescent Heights Blvd. This West Hollywood neighborhood was the Beverly Hills of the 1930s-'50s with film illuminates living on the North Crescent Heights hillside estates. Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore each owned houses next to each other, with Victor Mature as their neighbor. The Greek government owned its ambassador's residence. At the foot of the hill, Gloria Swanson's Georgian columned two-story residence on Selma Ave. at North Crescent Heights Blvd. was opposite Judy Canova's residence. Veronica Lake's residence was on the west side of North Crescent Heights, on Hollywood Blvd.'s "East Sunset Strip" area overlooking "The Garden of Allah"; at the start of the fabled Sunset Blvd. Strip, where 'John Barrymore' and Errol Flynn had their party apartment units in The Garden of Allah. At the Hollywood Blvd./Laurel Canyon "flats"area, on Hollywood Blvd., Claude Rains was neighbor to Clark Gable.
In 1958-59 Aherne granted Columbia Pictures the right to access the eastern bluff of his hilltop property for the premiere of its production Pepe (1960), which occurred on Dec. 27, 1960. Columbia's art director Ted Haworth designed an exterior palatial patio with a full-size swimming pool, surrounded by a terrace with balustrade railings, overlooking Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and a panoramic view of the West. The Aherne-'Joan Fontaine (I)' (qv( mansion facade served as the backdrop for the reverse location-angle shots. Upon completion of filming, the property area was restored to the original condition; the film company removed (dug out) the swimming pool, the concrete patio-terrace, the balustrades, all the Italian Cypress and shrubbery planted around the film's set. After Aherne and Fontaine divorced, the property was sold, then abandoned, and became a Sunset Strip hippie enclave-fort. In the late 1960s the mansion was torn down, with the property fenced and gated; Great Western Bank, in the mid-1970s, subdivided the property into home sites, building two-story "McMansions" that sold for approximately $350,000-$500,000.
Aherne passed away on February 10, 1986, three months from what would have been his 84th birthday on May 2.
He never appeared in a film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

Personal Quotes (11)

Brilliant actress though she is, surely nobody but a mother could have loved Bette Davis at the height of her career. Evidently I failed to make my admiration clear, however, because in her lively and self-revealing book, "The Lonely Life," she says I looked at her with loathing.
John Van Druten once remarked to a friend of mine, "Brian feels about homosexuals the way most people feel about ghosts; he just can't believe they exist!" and it is true, though I don't actually care what people do with their private lives so long as they do not infringe upon my own.
One just does not behave in England quite the same as one does in America and Australia, and the Australian girl on the sheep station who thought I was a stuffed shirt has had her counterpart, I fear, only too often in America.
Make-up in those days was sticks of #5 Leichner greasepaint and heavy lipstick, which we applied so thickly that we looked like clowns and could scarcely move a muscle of our faces... the whole business of silent acting seemed phony and ridiculous, entailing as it did pulling exaggerated faces while a director shouted at one through a megaphone and an orchestra played unsuitable music in the background.
Most men who become actors do so either because, like myself, they couldn't get a job at anything else or because, as I firmly believe, they are attracted by the prospect of long mornings in bed.
I was no athlete. I could not jump over haystacks or fight ten men at once, nor could I ever hope to follow Douglas Fairbanks in those glorious parts which he had made his own.
I have known actresses great and small who would ruthlessly cut ties with home, husband, and children, who would cast aside anyone and anything, and endure any hardship, loneliness, and distress if only they could get a chance to act. What is this demon that possesses them? ...this passion is not based upon anything so slight as vanity; it is a deep, enduring need, and God help the man who gives his heart to such a woman, for the need never leaves them.
In the main the classes respect each other but do not mingle in England. We are not democratic, in the American sense of the word, but our much-maligned class system has endured for centuries, and we understand it.
The winds of change have blown through Hollywood and left destruction in their path. Battered by the government's Divorcement Decree, which shut off their lifeblood by taking away their theaters, and by television, which gives entertainment to the public for nothing, the great studios no longer are able to offer continuous employment to artists. Hoping to stimulate business, they have turned to sex and violence. There are no glamorous and beautiful women on the screen today and no legitimate actors like myself, because we can't use sawed-off shotguns or hit each other convincingly, and we don't care to take off our clothes in public.
If radio was good to actors, it also was good to listeners. Imagination is usually better than realization, and some of the great shows done on the Lux Radio Theater, for example, gave more pleasure than most of the TV "spectaculars" of today, added to which it was possible to listen to them while playing cards, sewing, carpentering, doing the household chores, or driving a car, without having to stay glued to a TV set, watching endless soap and cigarette commercials. Radio is gone, and I, for one, regret it.
I often think of the great kindness that I received from everyone during my days in the London theater, so very different from the suspicious and defensive attitude of the average Hollywood producer and agent, and I wonder whether it was the English national character or my own youth and obvious ingenuousness which impelled people to help me. Help me they did, and I shall always be grateful to them and remember their generosity.

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