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Leslie Howard

(1893 - 1943)

Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer.

Born Leslie Howard Stainer on April 3, 1893, in Forest Hill, London. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish and mostly English descent. 

In 1914, Howard received his first screen role in a silent film. Howard was then drafted into the British army to serve in World War I.

Howard made his American debut in 1920, in the film Just Suppose. In 1927, he cemented his mark in the film industry in Her Cardboard Lover and Escape. However, by the 1930s he had become bored with acting and thus turned to producing. Howard produced his first film in 1930, Outward Bound; the film was an enormous success for the first-time producer.

Howard became notorious for playing stiff-upper-lipped Englishmen in films such as Berkeley Square (in 1933, for which he was nominated for Best Actor Academy Award), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), and Pygmalion (in 1938, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award). In 1936, Howard began a lifelong friendship with Humphrey Bogart, when both men co-starred in the film The Petrified Forest.

In 1939, Howard landed the unforgettable role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. He then returned to England to direct and star in several propaganda films relating to World War II, including The First of the Few (1942), Pimpernel Smith (1941), and Forty-Ninth Parallel (1941).

Howard died on June 1, 1943, when his plane returning to England from a visit in Lisbon, was shot down by the Luftwaffe over the Bay of Biscay.

Sources: “Leslie Howard (1893 - 1943),” American Jewish Historical Society, American Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random House, 1999). pg. 461.
Internet Movie Database.

Photo: Photofest, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.