Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Donald Crisp

On May 25, 1974, actor Donald Crisp died. He was an accomplished, director and character actor was born George William Crisp on July 27, 1882 in Abnerfeldy, Scotland (some sources show his birth place as London, England). He began his career in show business on stage but quickly moved to motion pictures as a director and as an actor. His earliest foray into film as an actor came in The French Maid (1908) and his directorial debut was Her Father’s Silent Partner (1914). He played primarily father type characters and his slight brogue speech pattern added to a tender quality that made for some very memorable film roles. In his award winning film career, he directed over seventy films (primarily during the silent era, 1914-1930) and as an actor appeared in over one hundred and seventy (1908-1963). Crisp’s most famous film credits include: Birth of a Nation (1915), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Dawn Patrol (1938), Jezebel (1938), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Knute Rockne, All-American (1940), Lassie Come Home (1943), National Velvet (1944), and Prince Valiant (1954).

He won his first and only Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1942 for How Green Was My Valley (1941). After his wife, Jane Murfin’s death in 1957, Crisp went into semi-retirement but returned to the screen shortly stating, “Idleness can ruin men.” He made a few films, none of which were very memorable. His last on-screen performance was in Spencer’s Mountain (1963), co-starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

On May 25, 1974, Donald Crisp died from a stroke at the Van Nuys Community Hospital in Van Nuys, California. The actor had suffered several minor strokes in the previous year and was in failing health at the time of his death. His funeral service was held at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn, Glendale and is buried in the Wee Kirk Church Yard, lot 2138, space 4 at Forest Lawn, Glendale., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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