Felix Aylmer

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Felix Aylmer

Sir Felix Aylmer 2 Allan Warren.jpg
Felix Aylmer, 1973
Felix Edward Aylmer Jones

(1889-02-21)21 February 1889
Corsham, Wiltshire, England
Died2 September 1979(1979-09-02) (aged 90)
Pyrford, Surrey, England
Years active1911–1979
Cecily Byrne
(m. 1915;died 1975)

Sir Felix Edward Aylmer Jones, OBE (21 February 1889 – 2 September 1979) was an English stage actor who also appeared in the cinema and on television. Aylmer made appearances in films with comedians such as Will Hay and George Formby.


Early life

Felix Edward Aylmer Jones was born in Corsham, Wiltshire, the son of Lilian (Cookworthy) and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Aylmer Jones. [1] He was educated at King James's Grammar School, Almondbury, near Huddersfield, where he was a boarder from 1897 to 1900, [2] Magdalen College School, and Exeter College, Oxford, where he was a member of Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). [1] He trained under the Victorian-era actress and director Rosina Filippi before securing his first professional engagement at the London Coliseum in 1911. [1] He appeared in the world premiere of The Farmer's Wife by Eden Phillpotts at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1917. Between 1917 and 1919 he served as a junior officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (R.N.V.R.).


He acted with Sir Laurence Olivier in Shakespearean films, appearing as Polonius in Hamlet (1948), and often played wise old men, such as Merlin in Knights of the Round Table (1953). He played the Archbishop of Canterbury in the film adaptation of Becket (1964), with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole and gave elocution lessons to the young Audrey Hepburn. [3]

His memorable style of delivery—dignified and learned— [4] was frequently mimicked by comedians such as Peter Sellers and Kenneth Williams. Indeed, as dramatist and barrister John Mortimer noted, the mannerisms Aylmer brought to bear in his roles came to be imitated in real life by judges on the bench. [5] Williams observed that although his impersonation of Aylmer was a speciality during his days with ENSA, the Armed Forces Entertainment Association, he came to the conclusion that none of the troops knew who was being impersonated.

Aylmer was President of Equity from 1950 to 1969. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire [6] in the 1950 King's Birthday Honours and knighted [7] [8] in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours.

He was also the narrator in the original version (and recobbled cut) of Richard Williams' unfinished animated project, [The Thief and the Cobbler]] (1993).

At the age of 80 Felix Aylmer played a villain in an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) entitled "It's Supposed to be Thicker than Water". His last major screen role was as the Abbot in the sitcom Oh, Brother! , opposite Derek Nimmo (1968–70). He appeared as a doctor in an episode of the TV series Jason King called "If It's Got To Go, It's Got To Go" in 1972, at the age of 83.

Aylmer died in a nursing home in Pyrford, Surrey, in 1979, at the age of 90.

Personal life

He married Cecily Minnie Jane Byrne during the First World War, and they had three children. [1]


Selected stage credits



1930 Escape Governor
The Temporary Widow Public Prosecutor
1932 The World, the Flesh, the Devil Sir Henderson Trent
1933 The Shadow Sir Richard Bryant
The Wandering Jew Ferera
The Ghost Camera Coroner
Home Sweet Home Robert Wilding KC
1934 The Path of Glory President of Thalia
The Night Club Queen Prosecution
Whispering Tongues Supt. Fulton
Doctor's Orders Sir Daniel Summerfieldreleased as The Doctor's Secret in USA
My Old Dutch Judge
The Iron Duke Lord Uxbridge
1935 The Clairvoyant ProsecutorUncredited
The Divine Spark Butler
Hello, Sweetheart Peabody
Old Roses Lord Sandelbury
The Ace of Spades Lord Yardleigh
Checkmate Henry Nicholls
The Price of a Song Graham
Her Last Affaire Lord Carnforth
She Shall Have Music Donald Black
1936 The Improper Duchess Count Seidel
Rhodes of Africa Johannesburg DiplomatUncredited, released as Rhodes in USA
Tudor Rose Edward Seymour released as Nine Days a Queen in USA
In the Soup CounselUncredited
Seven Sinners Sir Charles Webber
Royal Eagle Windridge
As You Like It Duke Frederick
Dusty Ermine Police commissioner
The Man in the Mirror The Earl of Wigan
Sensation Lord Bouverie
Jack of All Trades Managing director
The Mill on the Floss Mr Wakem
1937 Action for Slander Sir Eustace Cunninghame
Dreaming Lips Sir Robert Blaker
The Frog John Bennett
Glamorous Night Diplomat
The Vicar of Bray Earl of Brendon
Victoria the Great Lord Palmerston
The Rat Prosecuting Counsel
The Live Wire Wilton
1938 South Riding Chairman of Council
Bank Holiday Surgeon
Just like a Woman Sir Robert Hummel
Break the News Sir George Bickory
Kate Plus Ten Bishop
I've Got a Horse Lovatt
Sixty Glorious Years Lord Palmerstonreleased as Queen of Destiny in USA
The Citadel Mr Boon
1939 Young Man's Fancy Sir Caleb Crowther
1940 Dr. O'Dowd President
Spies of the Air Colonel Cairns
Girl in the News Prosecuting counsel
Night Train to Munich Dr John Fredericks
Charley's (Big-Hearted) Aunt The Proctor
The Briggs Family Mr Sand
The Case of the Frightened Lady Dr Amershamreleased as The Frightened Lady in USA
Saloon Bar Mayor


1941 The Ghost of St. Michael's Dr. Winter
Major Barbara James
Kipps ArchitectUncredited
The Saint's Vacation Leighton
Spellbound Mr Mortonreleased as The Spell of Amy Nugent in USA
Once a Crook King's counsel
Atlantic Ferry bank president
I Thank You Henry Potter
South American George Mr Appleby
Hi Gang! Lord Amersham
1942 The Seventh Survivor Sir Elmer Norton
The Black Sheep of Whitehall Crabtree
Uncensored Colonel von Hohenstein
Sabotage at Sea John Dighton
The Young Mr. Pitt Lord North
1943 The Peterville Diamond President
Thursday's Child Mr Keith
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp The Bishop
Escape to Danger Sir Alfred Horton
The Demi-Paradise Mr Runalow
1944 Time Flies The Professor
English Without Tears Mr. Spaggot
Mr. Emmanuel Mr Emmanuel
Henry V Archbishop of Canterbury
1945 The Way to the Stars Reverend Charles Moss
The Wicked Lady Hogarth
Caesar and Cleopatra First nobleman
1946 The Years Between Sir Enrst Forster
The Magic Bow Signor Fazzini
The Laughing Lady Sir Felix Mountroyal
1947 The Man Within Priest
Green Fingers Daniel Booth
The October Man Dr Martin
A Man About the House Richard Sanctuary
The Ghosts of Berkeley Square Col. H. "Bulldog" Kelsoe
1948 Hamlet Polonius [9]
The Calendar Lord Forlingham
Quartet Martin(segment "The Colonel's Lady") [10]
1949 Edward, My Son Mr Hanray
Alice in Wonderland Dr Liddell / The Cheshire Cat Voice
Christopher Columbus Father Perez
Prince of Foxes Count Marc Antonio Verano
1950 Your Witness British judgereleased as Eye Witness in USA
So Long at the Fair British consul
Trio Bank manager(segment "The Verger")
She Shall Have Murder Mr Playfair


1951 No Highway Sir PhilipUncredited
The Lady with a Lamp Lord Palmerston
The House in the Square Sir William, the PhysicianUncredited, released as I'll Never forget You in USA
Quo Vadis Plautius
1952 Ivanhoe Isaac
The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By Mr. Merkemansreleased as The Paris Express in USA
1953 The Master of Ballantrae Lord Durrisdeer
Knights of the Round Table Merlin
The TriangleBrisetout(segment "A Lodging for the Night")
1954 The Love Lottery Winant
The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp Joshua Webman
1956 Loser Takes All The Other
Anastasia Chamberlain
1957 Saint Joan Inquisitor
1958 I Accuse! Edgar Demange
The Two-Headed Spy Cornaz
The Doctor's Dilemma Sir Patrick Cullen
Separate Tables Mr. Fowler
1959 The Mummy Stephen Banning [11]
1960 Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Clarence Olderberry Sr.
From the Terrace James Duncan MacHardie
Exodus Dr Liberman
The Hands of Orlac Dr Francis Cochrane


1962 The Road to Hong Kong Grand Lama
The Boys Judge
1963 The Running Man Parson
1964 Becket Archbishop of Canterbury
The Chalk Garden Judge McWhirrey
1965 Masquerade Henrickson
1966 Out of the Unknown Mr. BoneEpisode: Walk's End
1968 The Champions Old ManEpisode: The Beginning
Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher Judge
Hostile Witness Justice Osborne
1968-1970 Oh, Brother! Father Anselm19 episodes
1970 Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Joshua CrackanEpisode: It's Supposed to be Thicker than Water
1972 Jason King Dr WilsteinEpisode: If It's Got to Go, It's Got to Go
1973 Oh, Father! Father AnselmTwo episodes
1992 The Thief and the Cobbler NarratorOriginal version and recobbled cut; released posthumously

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Nimmo, Derek (2004). "'Aylmer, Sir Felix (1889–1979)'" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30776 . Retrieved 16 November 2009.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Hinchliffe, Gerald (1963). A history of the King James's Grammar School in Almondbury. Huddersfield: Advertiser Press. p. 234.
  3. "Unseen Audrey Hepburn letters up for auction". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016. her mentor and lifelong friend Sir Felix Aylmer.
  4. Darlington, William A. (4 February 1979). "Sir Felix Aylmer, distinguished actor". The Daily Telegraph . London.
  5. Mortimer, John (24 January 2001). "Dodgy wigs, extravagant costumes, over-the-top speeches? You'd never get away with that on stage". The Guardian . p. G2–14.
  6. "No. 38929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1950. pp. 2786–2786.
  7. "No. 43667". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1965. p. 5471.
  8. "No. 43720". The London Gazette . 23 July 1965. p. 7029.
  9. Campbell Dixon (23 April 2014). "Shakespeare: Laurence Olivier as Hamlet: original 1948 Telegraph review". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  10. Simon Heffer (21 August 2015). "The unsung greatness of George Cole". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  11. Henry Barnes (11 June 2015). "Christopher Lee: a career in clips". The Guardian . Retrieved 29 October 2016. bumbling archaeologists (Felix Aylmer...