Gray, Charles (I) Biography

biography of Gray, Charles (I)

Gray, Donald Marshall
No Neck
29 August 1928, Bournemouth, Dorset, England, UK
7 March 2000, Brompton, London, England, UK (throat cancer)
6' 1"
The son of a surveyor, Charles Gray grew up in Queens Park, London, and went to school in his home town of Bournemouth. As a young actor, he received his vocal training from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Old Vic, having long abandoned his first job as clerk for a real estate agent. His voice was to become one of his most valuable tools. In fact, from January 1966, he subtly, almost imperceptibly, dubbed for 'Jack Hawkins (I)' (qv) after this actor became unable to speak his lines due to throat cancer. In later years, Gray's trademark voice was regularly heard on television commercials. Gray's theatrical debut came in 1952 in the part of Charles the Wrestler (he measured 6 foot, 2 inches in height) in "As You Like It", appearing under his original name, 'Donald Gray'. From 1956, as 'Charles' Gray (since there already was a one-armed actor named 'Donald Gray (I)' (qv)), he took to leading dramatic roles, and won critical plaudits as Achilles in "Troilus and Cressida", Macduff in "Macbeth" and as the gluttonous Sir Epicure Mammon in 'Tyrone Guthrie' (qv)'s up-dated version of "The Alchemist", in 1962. He repeated his Old Vic performance as Henry Bolingbroke for his Broadway debut at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1956. A notable later performance, while touring the U.S. and Canada, was as the Prince of Wales in 'Peter Stone (I)' (qv)'s tale of the famous 19th century actor Edmund Kean ("Kean", 1961). In 1964, Gray won the Clarence Derwent Award as Best Supporting Actor for his part in the controversial play "Poor Bitos", by 'Jean Anouilh (I)' (qv), co-starring 'Donald Pleasence' (qv). He was offered his first role on the big screen, reprising a success on the West End stage in 1958, as Captain Cyril Mavors,in the satirical musical _Expresso Bongo (1959)_ (qv). For the next forty years, heavy-set, silver-haired, jut-jawed Charles Gray used his imposing frame and mellifluous voice to great effect in creating for the screen a memorable gallery of egocentric, imperious toffs, and suave, sardonic super-villains. While his performances at times verged on the camp, Gray cheerfully allowed himself to be cast within his range of basically unsympathetic characters, which he could play well and with ease. He tended to favour television as his preferred medium, though some of his most popular roles were for the big screen. Among his niche of staple characters were the coldly pompous military heavies (General Gabler in _The Night of the Generals (1967)_ (qv), or the perpetually sneering, overbearing upper-class twits (true-to-form, as defecting spy Hillary Vance in the _"Thriller" (1973)_ (qv) episode "Night is the Time for Killing"). At his evil best, he was commanding as the demonic acolyte Mocata, in _The Devil Rides Out (1968)_ (qv) and as the feline-stroking, velvety-voiced nemesis of James Bond, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in _Diamonds Are Forever (1971)_ (qv). He was also suitably sinister as Bates the Butler, one of the red herrings of 'Agatha Christie' (qv)'s _The Mirror Crack'd (1980)_ (qv). Gray's recurring roles included Lord Seacroft (senior, as well as junior) in the short-lived satirical miniseries _"The Upper Crusts" (1973)_ (qv) as a down-on-his-heels aristocrat, keeping up appearances after being forced to live in a high-rise housing estate; and as the sedentary brother of the famous sleuth at 221b Baker Street, Mycroft, in _The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)_ (qv). Later, he was utilised as temporary replacement, first for 'Edward Hardwicke' (qv),and, subsequently, for the hospitalised star 'Jeremy Brett' (qv), in Granada Television's various instalments of the Sherlock Holmes saga (1985-1994). Gray never married and died of cancer in March 2000, aged 71.

-   Aristocratic manner and a distinctive silky voice

-   Well known for his roles as Mycroft Holmes on the _"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1984)_ (qv) ITV series with 'Jeremy Brett' (qv), and as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film _Diamonds Are Forever (1971)_ (qv), with 'Sean Connery' (qv).

-   Also known for his portrayal of the narrator of _The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)_ (qv). Fans of the movie refer to him as "No Neck" because the high-riding collar of the shirt and jacket he wears make it look like he has no neck.

-   Provided a voice for actor 'Jack Hawkins (I)' (qv), who had his larynx removed in an operation for throat cancer.

-   When Gray made his stage debut (in 1952, as Charles the Wrestler in "As You Like It"), there was already an actor named 'Donald Gray (I)' (qv) . Hence the change in forename.

-   Played both a good guy and a villain in the Bond movies. Gray was Henderson (good guy), 007's Japan contact in _You Only Live Twice (1967)_ (qv), then played Ernst Stavros Blofeld (master villain) in _Diamonds Are Forever (1971)_ (qv).

-   Neighbor and close friend of 'Ava Gardner' (qv).

-   Played Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft both in the film _The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)_ (qv) and in the television series _"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1984)_ (qv).

-   Appeared in both _The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)_ (qv) (as "The Criminologist") and its sequel, _Shock Treatment (1981)_ (qv) (as "Judge Oliver Wright").

-   He always claimed that he had never seen _The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)_ (qv), in which he played one of his most memorable roles, "The Criminologist", and had nothing to do with the rest of the cast because his scenes were filmed separately from the rest of the film.

-   Portrayed the Prince of Wales in the Broadway musical "Kean" (1964).

-   several seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company portraying a variety of roles including Malvolio in Twelfth Night, John Of Gaunt in Richard II and Ceasar in Julius Ceasar.

-   His theatre credits include: Murullus in "Julius Caesar" by 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv) , directed by 'Michael Benthall' (qv) (Old Vic Theatre, London, 1955)

-   (1975) He acted in 'Jean Anouilh (I)' (qv)'s play, "Ardele", at the Queen's Theatre in London, England with 'Vincent Price (I)' (qv), 'Coral Browne' (qv), 'Allan Cuthbertson' (qv) and 'Anita Dobson' (qv) in the cast. 'Frith Banbury' (qv) MBE was the director.

-   (1964) He acted in 'Jean Anouilh (I)' (qv)'s play, "Poor Bitos", at the Duke of York's Theatre in London, England with 'Martin Jarvis' (qv), 'Donald Pleasence' (qv) and 'Ronald Lewis (I)' (qv) in the cast.

-   (1955-1956) He acted in 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "The Winter's Tale", at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv), 'John Neville (I)' (qv), 'Wendy Hiller (I)' (qv) and 'Zena Walker' (qv) in the cast. 'Michael Benthall' (qv) was the director.

-   (1955-1956) He acted in 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "Richard II", at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'John Neville (I)' (qv) and 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv) in the cast. 'Michael Benthall' (qv) was the director.

-   (August 1955-September 1955) He acted in the Old Vic Company production of 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "Julius Caesar", at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland with 'John Neville (I)' (qv) (Marc Anthony), 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv) (Brutus), 'John Woodvine' (qv), 'Clifford Williams (II)' (qv), 'Gerald Cross' (qv) (Caesar), 'Rosemary Harris (I)' (qv), 'Richard Wordsworth' (qv) (Cassius), 'John Wood (I)' (qv) (Decius Brutus), 'Wendy Hiller (I)' (qv) (Portia), 'Margaret Courtenay' (qv) and 'Annette Crosbie' (qv) in the cast. 'Michael Benthall' (qv) was the director.

-   (1955-1956) He acted in the Old Vic Theatre season at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'John Neville (I)' (qv), 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv), 'Richard Burton (I)' (qv), 'Rosemary Harris (I)' (qv), 'Wendy Hiller (I)' (qv), 'Coral Browne' (qv), 'Margaret Rawlings' (qv), 'Zena Walker' (qv), 'Richard Wordsworth' (qv), 'Claire Bloom (I)' (qv) and 'Gerald Cross' (qv) in the cast. 'Michael Benthall' (qv) was the director.

-   (August 1956-September 1956) He acted in the Old Vic Company production of 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "Romeo and Juliet", at the Opera House Theatre in Manchester, England with 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv), 'John Neville (I)' (qv), 'Claire Bloom (I)' (qv), 'Jeremy Brett' (qv), 'John Woodvine' (qv), 'Peter Bowles (I)' (qv), 'Margaret Courtenay' (qv) and 'Wynne Clark' (qv) in the cast. 'Robert Helpmann' (qv) was the director.

-   (1955-1956) He acted in 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "Troilus and Cressida", at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv), 'John Neville (I)' (qv), 'Rosemary Harris (I)' (qv) and 'Wendy Hiller (I)' (qv) in the cast. 'Tyrone Guthrie' (qv) was the director.

-   (1955-1956) He acted in 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s play, "Macbeth", at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'Paul Rogers (I)' (qv) and 'Coral Browne' (qv) in the cast. 'Michael Benthall' (qv) was the director.

-   (October 28, 1962) He acted in 'Ben Jonson' (qv)'s play, "The Alchemist", at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'Leo McKern' (qv), 'Lee Montague' (qv) and 'Priscilla Morgan' (qv) in the cast. 'Tyrone Guthrie' (qv) was the director.

-   (1962-1963) He acted in the final Old Vic Theatre season at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England with 'Priscilla Morgan' (qv), 'Lee Montague' (qv), 'Sheila Allen (III)' (qv), 'Esmond Knight' (qv), 'Rosalind Knight' (qv), 'Errol John' (qv), 'Leo McKern' (qv), 'James Maxwell (I)' (qv), 'Dilys Hamlett' (qv), 'David Williams (I)' (qv), 'George Howe (II)' (qv), 'Russell Hunter (I)' (qv) and 'Adrienne Corri' (qv) in the company. 'Michael Elliott (I)' (qv) was the director.

-   (1953) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Antony and Cleopatra," in the Stratford Theatre Festival at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Michael Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Harry Andrews, Marius Goring, Rachel Kempson, Donald Pleasance, Robert Shaw, and Nigel Davenport in the cast. Glen Byam Shaw was director. Antony Hopkins was musical director.

-   (1953) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "The Merchant of Venice," in the Stratford Theatre Festival at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Michael Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Harry Andrews, Yvonne Mitchell, and Robert Shaw in the cast. Denis Carey was director. Julian Slade was musical director.

-   (1958) He acted in 'Wolf Mankowitz' (qv)'s play, "Expresso Bongo", at the Saville Theatre in London, England with 'Paul Scofield (I)' (qv), 'Millicent Martin (I)' (qv), 'Victor Spinetti' (qv), 'Barry Cryer' (qv) and 'Susan Hampshire' (qv) in the cast. 'William Chappell (I)' (qv) was the director.

-   (1970) He acted in 'Christopher Hampton (I)' (qv)'s play, "The Philanthropist", at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England with 'Alec McCowen' (qv), 'Dinsdale Landen' (qv), 'David Ashton (I)' (qv), 'Jane Asher' (qv), 'Penelope Wilton' (qv) and 'Tamara Ustinov' (qv) in the cast. Robert Kidd was the director.

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Acting in movies

  1. True Bond (2007) (TV)
  2. Thriller: The Restoration (2005) (V)
  3. Bond Girls Are Forever (2002) (TV)
  4. Longitude (2000) (TV)
  5. The James Bond Story (1999) (TV)
  6. The Tichborne Claimant (1998)
  7. The Secrets of 007: The James Bond Files (1997) (TV)
  8. "Madson" (1996) {(#1.5)}
  9. "Madson" (1996) {(#1.6)}
  10. Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995)
  11. "Scarlett" (1994) {(#1.4)}
  12. "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (1994) {The Golden Pince-Nez (#1.3)}
  13. "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (1994) {The Mazarin Stone (#1.5)}
  14. "Tales from the Poop Deck" (1992) {Here Be Pirates! (#1.1)}
  15. "Tales from the Poop Deck" (1992) {Till De'Ath Do Us Part (#1.6)}
  16. Firestar: First Contact (1991)
  17. "Performance" (1992) {Absolute Hell (#1.1)}
  18. "Shrinks" (1991) {(#1.3)}
  19. "The Paper Man" (1990)
  20. Eine Frau namens Harry (1990)
  21. "Blackeyes" (1989) {(#1.3)}
  22. "The Nineteenth Hole" (1989) {(#1.2)}
  23. "Hannay" (1988) {The Fellowship of the Black Stone (#1.1)}
  24. "Small World" (1988) {Hurry Up, Please, It's Time (#1.6)}
  25. "Small World" (1988) {Throbbing and Waiting (#1.5)}
  26. "Small World" (1988) {Unreal Cities (#1.3)}
  27. "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (1986) {The Bruce Partington Plans (#2.4)}
  28. Dreams Lost, Dreams Found (1987) (TV)
  29. Hammer: The Studio That Dripped Blood! (1987) (TV)
  30. "Porterhouse Blue" (1987) {(#1.2)}
  31. "Porterhouse Blue" (1987) {(#1.3)}
  32. "Porterhouse Blue" (1987) {(#1.4)}
  33. "Screenplay" (1986) {Cariani and the Courtesans (#2.4)}
  34. "The New Statesman" (1987) {Baa Baa Black Sheep (#1.7)}
  35. "The New Statesman" (1987) {Waste Not Want Not (#1.4)}
  36. "Tickets for the Titanic" (1987) {Keeping Score (#1.1)}
  37. "C.A.T.S. Eyes" (1985) {Fit (#2.8)}
  38. "Tall Tales & Legends" (1985) {Casey at the Bat (#1.3)}
  39. "The Story of English" (1986) {A Muse of Fire (#1.3)}
  40. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1984) {The Greek Interpreter (#2.2)}
  41. A Profile of Arthur J. Mason (1984) (TV)
  42. The Gourmet (1984) (TV)
  43. The Jigsaw Man (1984)
  44. An Englishman Abroad (1983) (TV)
  45. The Comedy of Errors (1983) (TV)
  46. Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story (1982) (TV)
  47. Shock Treatment (1981)
  48. Ticket to Heaven (1981)
  49. Troilus & Cressida (1981) (TV)
  50. "That's Hollywood" (1976) {Cult Classics}
  51. "We, the Accused" (1980)
  52. "Marie" (1980)
  53. Fame (1980)
  54. The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
  55. "Heartland" (1979) {Working Arrangements (#2.5)}
  56. "The British Greats" (1980) {Jack Hawkins (#1.3)}
  57. "Ike" (1979)
  58. Julius Caesar (1979) (TV)
  59. Mrs. R's Daughter (1979) (TV)
  60. Schalcken the Painter (1979) (TV)
  61. The House on Garibaldi Street (1979) (TV)
  62. "Hazell" (1978) {Hazell and the Deptford Virgin (#2.2)}
  63. "The Alan Hamel Show" (1976) {(1979-04-06)}
  64. Across a Crowded Room (1978) (TV)
  65. King Richard the Second (1978) (TV)
  66. Silver Bears (1978)
  67. The Legacy (1978)
  68. Seven Nights in Japan (1977)
  69. Three Dangerous Ladies (1977)
  70. "Drama" (1977) {Six Characters in Search of an Author by Pirandello}
  71. "ITV Sunday Night Drama" (1959) {The Late Wife (#2.1)}
  72. "The Galton & Simpson Playhouse" (1977) {Cheers (#1.3)}
  73. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)
  74. Twelfth Night (1976) (TV)
  75. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {London Assurance (#12.2)}
  76. "Call My Bluff" (1965/II) {(1976-08-12)}
  77. "Softly Softly: Task Force" (1969) {Alarums and Excursions (#8.15)}
  78. Mutiny (1975) (TV)
  79. The Philanthropist (1975) (TV)
  80. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  81. "Churchill's People" (1974) {Mutiny (#1.24)}
  82. "The Venturers" (1975) {The Cannibals (#1.8)}
  83. "Thriller" (1973) {Night Is the Time for Killing (#4.3)}
  84. On the Game (1974)
  85. The Beast Must Die (1974)
  86. "Dial M for Murder" (1974) {Firing Point (#1.10)}
  87. "Fall of Eagles" (1974) {Tell the King the Sky Is Falling (#1.11)}
  88. "Great Mysteries" (1973) {A Time to Remember (#1.20)}
  89. "Softly Softly: Task Force" (1969) {We're in This Together (#6.12)}
  90. Tales That Witness Madness (1973)
  91. The Song of Songs (1973) (TV)
  92. Theatre of Blood (1973)
  93. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {A Room with a View (#8.7)}
  94. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {The Recruiting Officer (#9.3)}
  95. "The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes" (1971) {The Absent-Minded Coterie (#2.5)}
  96. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {A Tradition of Service (#1.5)}
  97. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {By Endeavour Alone (#1.2)}
  98. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {Decline and Fall (#1.1)}
  99. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {One Door Opens (#1.3)}
  100. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {Putting on the Ritz (#1.6)}
  101. "The Upper Crusts" (1973) {Sitting Pretty (#1.4)}
  102. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {Lady Windermere's Fan (#7.8)}
  103. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {The Merchant of Venice (#7.7)}
  104. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {The Millionairess (#8.1)}
  105. "Upstairs, Downstairs" (1971) {Married Love (#2.3)}
  106. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  107. London (1971)
  108. When Eight Bells Toll (1971)
  109. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {The Cherry Orchard (#7.4)}
  110. "Doctor at Large" (1971) {A Situation Full of Promise (#1.29)}
  111. "Play for Today" (1970) {Michael Regan (#2.6)}
  112. "Thirty-Minute Theatre" (1965) {Asquith in Orbit. (#6.20)}
  113. "Thirty-Minute Theatre" (1965) {Jenkins (#7.11)}
  114. Cromwell (1970)
  115. The Executioner (1970)
  116. The Nine Ages of Nakedness (1970)
  117. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {Ross (#6.2)}
  118. "Menace" (1970) {Nine Bean Rows (#1.10)}
  119. "W. Somerset Maugham" (1969) {The Closed Shop (#2.7)}
  120. Mosquito Squadron (1969)
  121. The File of the Golden Goose (1969)
  122. The Merchant of Venice (1969) (TV)
  123. "Something to Hide" (1968)
  124. The Devil Rides Out (1968)
  125. The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1968)
  126. "Armchair Theatre" (1956) {The Three Wives of Felix Hull (#8.27)}
  127. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {Hay Fever (#3.11)}
  128. "Love Story" (1963) {The Egg on the Face of the Tiger (#6.1)}
  129. "Thirty-Minute Theatre" (1965) {Something to Hide: The Caretaker's Flat (#4.7)}
  130. "Thirty-Minute Theatre" (1965) {Something to Hide: The First Floor (#4.5)}
  131. "Thirty-Minute Theatre" (1965) {Something to Hide: The Studio (#4.6)}
  132. The Man Outside (1967)
  133. The Night of the Generals (1967)
  134. You Only Live Twice (1967)
  135. "BBC Play of the Month" (1965) {The Moon and Sixpence (#3.2)}
  136. "Love Story" (1963) {A Toy Soldier (#4.8)}
  137. Masquerade (1965)
  138. Tea Party (1965) (TV)
  139. "Armchair Mystery Theatre" (1960) {The Lodger (#3.8)}
  140. "Armchair Mystery Theatre" (1960) {Time and Mr Madingley (#3.5)}
  141. "The Troubleshooters" (1965) {The Schloss Belt (#1.6)}
  142. "Drama 61-67" (1961) {Drama '63: The Perfect Friday (#3.18)}
  143. "Suspense" (1962) {Personal and Private (#2.30)}
  144. "Maigret" (1960) {Voices from the Past (#3.1)}
  145. "Out of This World" (1962) {The Tycoons (#1.14)}
  146. The First Gentleman (1961) (TV)
  147. "Danger Man" (1960) {The Deputy Coyannis Story (#1.34)}
  148. Man in the Moon (1960)
  149. The Entertainer (1960)
  150. "Danger Man" (1960) {The Key (#1.11)}
  151. "ITV Play of the Week" (1955) {Tiger at the Gates (#6.8)}
  152. "The Four Just Men" (1959) {Money to Burn (#1.21)}
  153. "The Four Just Men" (1959) {The Man in the Road (#1.20)}
  154. Follow a Star (1959)
  155. The Desperate Man (1959)
  156. Tommy the Toreador (1959)
  157. "Armchair Theatre" (1956) {Guest Appearance (#3.42)}
  158. "BBC Sunday-Night Theatre" (1950) {The Small Back Room (#10.14)}
  159. "Boyd Q.C." (1956) {In Camera (#3.9)}
  160. "Probation Officer" (1959) {(#1.16)}
  161. "Rendezvous" (1957) {Markheim (#1.37)}
  162. "The Four Just Men" (1959) {The Slaver (#1.24)}
  163. "The Invisible Man" (1958) {The Vanishing Evidence (#2.3)}
  164. Expresso Bongo (1958) (TV)
  165. Heart of a Child (1958)
  166. I Accuse! (1958)
  167. "Bachelor Father" (1957) {Uncle Bentley and the Matchmaker (#1.20)}
  168. "BBC Sunday-Night Theatre" (1950) {Television World Theatre: The Captain of Koepenick (#9.3)}
  169. "Producers' Showcase" (1954) {Romeo and Juliet (#3.7)}
  170. "Sword of Freedom" (1957) {Choice of Weapons (#1.3)}
  171. "Sword of Freedom" (1957) {The Suspects (#1.15)}
  172. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1955) {The Mark (#3.10)}