Text from Wikipedia:
He was born in London, England, allegedly as Alec
Guinness de Cuffe, although what is written on his birth certificate, which
reportedly lacked a father's name, is not known. His mother's maiden name was
"Agnes Cuffe". She would later marry Alec's stepfather, a mentally ill soldier
from the Anglo-Irish War who was suffering from what would today be known as
Post-traumatic stress disorder. It is rumoured that Guinness' birth father was a
wealthy businessman whom he once met.
Guinness first worked writing copy
for advertising before making his debut at the Old Vic Theatre in 1936 at the
age of 22.
He married the artist, playwright, and actress, Merula
Salaman, a British Jew, in 1938, and they had a son, Matthew Guinness, an actor
born in 1940. Despite this, in more recent times it has been argued that he was
probably gay, especially since he was arrested in 1946 for cottaging in a toilet
Liverpool - during the arrest he gave his name as Herbert Pocket, a character
from Great Expectations that he had recently played, and hence avoided drawing
attention to the event.
Alec Guinness served in the Royal Navy throughout
World War II, serving first as a seaman in 1941 and being commissioned the
following year. While in the military Guinness for awhile planned on becoming an
Anglican priest. He commanded a landing craft taking part in the invasion of
Sicily and Elba and later ferried supplies to the Yugoslav partisans. During the
War he appeared in Terence Rattigan's West End Play for Bomber Command, Flare
Path. He returned to the Old Vic in 1946.
He was initially mainly
associated with the Ealing comedies, and particularly for playing eight
different characters in Kind Hearts and Coronets. Other films from this period
included The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers, and The Man in the White Suit.
In 1952, director Ronald Neame cast Guinness in his first romantic lead role,
opposite Petula Clark in The Card.
Invited by his friend Tyrone Guthrie
to join in the premier season of the Stratford Festival of Canada, Guinness
lived for a brief time in Stratford, Ontario. On 13 July 1953, Guinness spoke
the first lines of the first play produced by the festival (Shakespeare's
Richard III): Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this
sun of York.
In 1954, during the shooting of the film Father Brown, he
and his wife converted to Roman Catholicism and became devout regular
church-goers for the rest of their lives. It is not clear if their minor-aged
son, Matthew (14), was also converted at the same time.
Guinness was also
a talented dramatic and character actor. His memorable film appearances included
Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River
Kwai, Tunes of Glory, and the title role in Hitler: The Last Ten
From the 1970s, Guinness made regular television appearances,
including the part of George Smiley in the serialisations of two novels by John
le Carré: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. One of his last
appearances was in the acclaimed BBC drama Eskimo Day.
His role as
Obi-Wan Kenobi in the immensely successful original Star Wars trilogy brought
him worldwide recognition to a new generation. Guinness agreed to do the part on
the condition that he would not have to do publicity to promote the film. He was
also one of the few cast members who believed that the film would be a box
office hit and negotiated a percentage deal that made him very wealthy in later
However, he was never happy with being identified with the part,
and expressed great dismay at what he perceived to be the obsessive,
out-of-touch-with-reality fan following the Star Wars trilogy attracted. Rumours
say that Obi-Wan's death was at his request, in order to limit his subsequent
role in the series.
Sir Alec Guinness died on 5 August 2000, aged 86,
from liver cancer, at Midhurst in West Sussex, and was interred in Petersfield,
Hampshire, England. His widow died of cancer two months later and is interred
with her husband of 62 years.
He won the Academy Award as Best Actor in 1957 for
his role in Bridge on the River Kwai. He was nominated again in 1958 for his
screenplay adapted from Joyce Cary's novel The Horse's Mouth. He was nominated
for an Academy Award for Best Supporting actor for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in
1977. He also received an Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievements in
He was appointed CBE in 1955, and was knighted in 1959. He became a
Companion of Honour in 1994 at the age of 80.
He also has a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1559 Vine Street.
Guinness wrote three volumes
of bestselling autobiography, beginning with Blessings in Disguise in 1985,
followed by My Name Escapes Me in 1996, and A Positively Final Appearance in
His personal and artistic legacies were tarnished when one of his
dressers (assistants) accused him of sexual assault.
Alec Guinness huskes mest for sin rolle i Star Wars.
Men heldigvis mestrede hans talent mange sider. Det klassiske engelske
Shakespeare, den moderne komedie, engelske krimi-B-film som den skønne Plyds og
Papegøjer og Vor Mand i Havanna. Selv foretrækker min hukommelse hans
fantastiske TV-rolle som den engelske spionchef George Smiley, baseret på John
Le Carré´s romaner. Han må klart vurderes som blandt de 4 store britiske
mandlige skuespillere - Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud og....
Hans påståede bi-sexuelle observans deles af flere andre af de
store (afdøde/nulevende) britiske actors og betyder intet, når man sad på den
anden side af scenen og nød skuespil i verdensklasse.
En gang imellem genser
jeg med fryd hans "George Smiley"; en mulig karrikatur af Storbritanniens
tidligere chef for Secret Service Sir Maurice Oldfield.