Date of Birth : May 26th 1908
Oscar-nominated English actor who, often in supporting roles, was usually cast as a pompous English gentleman representing the Establishment. In Movie Encyclopedia, film critic Leonard Maltin describes Morley as “recognizable by his ungainly bulk, bushy eyebrows, thick lips, and double chin, […] particularly effective when cast as a pompous windbag”. More politely, Ephraim Katz in his International Film Encyclopaedia describes Morley as a “a rotund, triple-chinned, delightful character player of the British and American stage and screen.”
A versatile actor, especially in his younger years, he played roles as divergent as those of Louis XVI, for which he received an Academy Award Nomination as Best Supporting Actor (Marie Antoinette 1938). He gave Oscar-worthy performances in Oscar Wilde (1960) and as a missionary in The African Queen (1951). As a playwright he co-wrote and adapted several plays for the stage, having outstanding success in London and New York with Edward, My Son, a gripping family drama written in 1947 (with Noel Langley) in which he played the central role of Arnold Holt. But the disappointing film version, directed by George Cukor at MGM Elstree in 1949, instead starred the miscast Spencer Tracy, who turned Holt, an unscrupulous English businessman, into a blustering Canadian expatriate.
Morley also personified the conservative Englishman in many comedy and caper films. Later in his career, he received critical accolades for Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?. Renowned for repartee and for being an eloquent conversationalist, Morley gained the epitheton of being a “wit”. Morley was honoured by being the first King of Moomba appointed by the Melbourne Moomba festival committee and, in typical humility, he accepted the crown in bare feet. Morley was in Australia touring his one-man show, The Sound of Morley.