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One of the great actors of our age reminisces about a lifetime in the theater--the world-famous actors and actresses he worked with, the plays, and the playhouses. This is a fascinating chronicle of British theater over the past fifty years.


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One of the great actors of our age reminisces about a lifetime in the theater--the world-famous actors and actresses he worked with, the plays, and the playhouses. This is a fascinating chronicle of British theater over the past fifty years.

47 review for An Actor and His Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08mkjbp Description: "I think the English are so good at practical jokes, or they used to be - of course, the Edwardians were mad about practical jokes." Harley Granville-Barker and Gordon Terry were directors who left a lasting impression on the actor. Sir John Gielgud talks to John Miller about his distinguished acting career. Actor and theatre director, Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) was regarded as one of the greatest thespians of his generation. He played every m http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08mkjbp Description: "I think the English are so good at practical jokes, or they used to be - of course, the Edwardians were mad about practical jokes." Harley Granville-Barker and Gordon Terry were directors who left a lasting impression on the actor. Sir John Gielgud talks to John Miller about his distinguished acting career. Actor and theatre director, Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) was regarded as one of the greatest thespians of his generation. He played every major Shakespearean role, including King Lear, Hamlet, Richard II and Prospero. His Hollywood supporting role as a butler in 'Arthur' won him his only Oscar in 1982. The Purple of the Terry's: "Ellen Terry was my great-aunt. What I remember mostly about her is her movement - she was then an old lady, deaf and rather blind and very vague in mind, but when she came on stage you really believed that she was either walking on the flagstones of Venice or in the fields of Windsor..." Sir John Gielgud talks to John Miller about his career - starting with his 1921 very brief debut at The Old Vic. Why Don't I Go On the Stage?: "She thought me rather mannered and rather effeminate - which I was, and very conceited..." Surrounded by a famous family, the theatre had a magnetic pull for Sir John Gielgud early on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Iva

    Gielgud came from the famous Terry family who were well known in early British theatre. Most of his experience was on the British stage and often he played Shakespearean roles. He played Hamlet too many times to count and directed it as well. Of course he worked with the finest actors of his generation: Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Richard Burton, Ralph Richardson, and even Judy Dench. He has only praise for his experience in the theatre and less time is spent on his movie roles. These chapte Gielgud came from the famous Terry family who were well known in early British theatre. Most of his experience was on the British stage and often he played Shakespearean roles. He played Hamlet too many times to count and directed it as well. Of course he worked with the finest actors of his generation: Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Richard Burton, Ralph Richardson, and even Judy Dench. He has only praise for his experience in the theatre and less time is spent on his movie roles. These chapters were taken from radio broadcasts. The book may be hard to obtain, but will be a satisfying reading experience for those interested in the theatre.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ty

    As an actor myself it is impossible to underestimate the importance and opinions of the all time theatrical greats. Olivier's "On Acting" is one of my theatre scriptures. Sir John Gielgud, probably most known in America, (and indeed in my family) for his Academy Award winning turn as Hobson in the movie Arthur, was, for decades before same, a well known name on the English stage. (Also having several successful ventures in American theatre throughout his life.) It was therefore a no-brainer that As an actor myself it is impossible to underestimate the importance and opinions of the all time theatrical greats. Olivier's "On Acting" is one of my theatre scriptures. Sir John Gielgud, probably most known in America, (and indeed in my family) for his Academy Award winning turn as Hobson in the movie Arthur, was, for decades before same, a well known name on the English stage. (Also having several successful ventures in American theatre throughout his life.) It was therefore a no-brainer that I finally read his memoir. I have to say, sadly, that I was somewhat disappointed in it. I think the main reason for that assessment is that his chapters sometimes go rather long, and are rather thick with references and stories pertaining to other legends with whom he worked, or met, throughout his life. Names that in some cases I vaguely know in the back of my mind, but in most cases are completely unfamiliar to me. For while most of the names he mentioned were, in their own right and at their own times, just as vital if not more so to the theatre than Gielgud himself, my immediate understanding of such early days of theatre, particularly of the types spoken of in the book, is minimal. The result; reading the book sometimes felt like I had been invited to a large party by a friend, and that friend turned out to be the only person at the party I knew...and furthermore that friend spent most of his time telling stories about everyone else at the party. It is hard to relate to at times. When he does talk about characters I am familiar with, or plays/movies I have seen or heard of, the interest factor picks up a bit. Indeed, to one degree, it is fascinating to hear any stories from the perspective of a legend such as Sir John. Even more so when he, (all too briefly) mentioned his thoughts on theatre and the craft of acting. Even then though, I was dismayed at the fact that the previously mentioned "Arthur" had but one paragraph dedicated to it. I was hoping, by the time I got to that stage in his career late in the book, that he would get into the experience of being in that famous film as much as he had previous films he writes about. But it was not meant to be. I will hold on to the book, as I think just the presence of it in my library is appropriate. But a far more thought provoking and satisfying book for the actor, (or the theatre fan in general) is Gielgud's "Acting Shakespeare", in which he delves quite deeply into the craft of classical acting. I recommend that volume, and intend to own it myself someday, to place along side this informative but somewhat rambling memoir.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in October 1998. John Gielgud's memoir covers roughly the first sixty years of his life, and is adapted from a series of radio talks. A large part of the book is taken up with Gielgud's impressions of the other actors he met during this period, beginning with those from his grandmother's famous family, the Terrys. (A major part of the adaptation to book form is the addition of comprehensive notes detailing the careers of the actors mentioned; very useful if yo Originally published on my blog here in October 1998. John Gielgud's memoir covers roughly the first sixty years of his life, and is adapted from a series of radio talks. A large part of the book is taken up with Gielgud's impressions of the other actors he met during this period, beginning with those from his grandmother's famous family, the Terrys. (A major part of the adaptation to book form is the addition of comprehensive notes detailing the careers of the actors mentioned; very useful if you don't know a great deal about the famous actors of the early part of the twentieth century.) Gielgud is unfailingly modest about his own talents and generous about those of others. As a writer, he is better at - and clearly more interested in - recounting amusing anecdotes than in detailed analysis of acting technique. This is particularly the case in dealing with his own career; he is not introspective in the least. This is not a real problem; if you want insight into how an actor carrys out his craft, this is not the book you would choose to read. The anecdotes are delightful and well-told, and it is valuable to have a record of the memories of one who through the length of his career and his family connections provides a link with a long bygone age of the British theatre.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I thought this would be quite interesting as a parallel to Beatrix's life. Gielgud was an actor contemporary of hers, born a year later but attended RADA at the same time. He didn't mention her once, but he did mention several other actors that she worked with. It was interesting to have the first hand impressions of see a career by another queer actor that knew many of the same people and was acting at the same time. It was interesting to see how totally unpolicital he was, how he spent a lot of I thought this would be quite interesting as a parallel to Beatrix's life. Gielgud was an actor contemporary of hers, born a year later but attended RADA at the same time. He didn't mention her once, but he did mention several other actors that she worked with. It was interesting to have the first hand impressions of see a career by another queer actor that knew many of the same people and was acting at the same time. It was interesting to see how totally unpolicital he was, how he spent a lot of the war performing for the troops. I did learn quite a bit reading this. I didn't realise he was related to Ellen Terry before. There was also a lot of charming anecdotes about different actors and plays, most of which were quite amusing. The book was based on radio interviews and as such had a style that felt like you were in the same room listening to John talk rather than reading a memoir. It was quite short and without any gossip, but still very enjoyable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica López-Barkl

    Again, another trashy autobiography - love them - also, it spans those Victorians, Edwardians, and WWI/WWII generations. Great book on how to act and how to have a diversified theater career. He's an inspiration, albeit an extremely idiosyncratic inspiration. Again, another trashy autobiography - love them - also, it spans those Victorians, Edwardians, and WWI/WWII generations. Great book on how to act and how to have a diversified theater career. He's an inspiration, albeit an extremely idiosyncratic inspiration.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Franceseattle

    I read this in 1981, perhaps it's due for a re-read. At the time, it seemed to me that there was little in the book of a personal nature, affording little insight into what made him a great actor. Perhaps it was there, but I missed it. I read this in 1981, perhaps it's due for a re-read. At the time, it seemed to me that there was little in the book of a personal nature, affording little insight into what made him a great actor. Perhaps it was there, but I missed it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Roger

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Engle

  10. 4 out of 5

    Doug

  11. 4 out of 5

    Evans Donnell

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dean

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Summers

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darren Hardy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Isca Silurum

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  20. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

  21. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth McMahon

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kit

  25. 4 out of 5

    LydiaJoy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  27. 4 out of 5

    Petrina Binney

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stefan Garcia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  31. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Simmons

  32. 5 out of 5

    Angel

  33. 4 out of 5

    Lorna Leatherman

  34. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lilly

  35. 4 out of 5

    Terry Wilson

  36. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy Barnes

  37. 4 out of 5

    David Campton

  38. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  39. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  40. 5 out of 5

    Roger Scoppie

  41. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

  42. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  43. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  44. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  45. 4 out of 5

    Richard Findlay

  46. 4 out of 5

    Noel

  47. 5 out of 5

    Becky

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