Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
George Sanders (actor)
Sanders was born in St Petersburg, Russia of British parents. While he was a child the family returned to Britain with the advent of the Russian Revolution. As a youth he worked in various jobs, most notably with advertising agencies in Argentina, a country he came to adore, before finding employment with a British advertising agency. It was there that the company secretary, an aspiring actress named Greer Garson, suggested a career in acting.
He made his British film debut in 1934 and after a string of British films made his American debut in 1936 with a role in Lloyd's of London . His British accent and sensibilities, combined with his suave, snobbish and somewhat menacing air was utilised in American films during the next decade. He played memorable supporting roles in prestige productions such as Rebecca, in which he goaded the sinister Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers, in her persecution against Joan Fontaine and he played leading roles in lesser pictures such as Rage in Heaven. During this time he was also the lead in both The Falcon and The Saint film series.
In 1950 he gave his most widely recognised performance and achieved his greatest success as the acid-tongued theatre critic Addison De Witte in All About Eve, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role.
He moved into the field of television and was responsible for the successful series George Sanders Mystery Theatre and provided the voice for the malevolent Shere Khan in the Walt Disney production of The Jungle Book.
Offscreen Sanders cultivated the image of a cultured playboy, a role not far removed from his screen characterisations, but in reality he was very happily married to actress Benita Hume from 1959 until her death in 1967. It was during this period that he completed his autobiography Memoirs of a Professional Cad, a work that, though now out of print, is still celebrated for its wit.
Sanders not only had a literary flair, he was a talented singer. He released an album entitled The George Sanders Touch: Songs for the Lovely Lady, and went to great lengths to get himself signed to sing in South Pacific, but severe anxiety over the role caused him to quickly drop it. Sanders' voice can be heard in one of his later films, Call Me Madam.
He had been married from 1940 - 1949 to Susan Larson and ended up in divorce. From 1949 until 1954, to the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. He and Zsa Zsa remained close friends after their divorce, and it was Zsa Zsa that urged Sanders to marry another of the Gabor sisters - Magda - after Hume's death, but this union lasted less than a year.
For many years Sanders had lived in Spain and it was in Barcelona that he committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates, leaving behind a suicide note that attributed his action to boredom. One of his final screen roles was in the 1972 feature film version of the popular television series Doomwatch.
He has been honoured with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - for Motion Pictures at 1636 Vine St, and for Television at 7007 Hollywood Blvd.
- George Sanders is the younger brother of actor, Tom Conway , whom Sanders handed over the role of 'The Falcon.'
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