Felix Aylmer

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Felix Aylmer

Felix Aylmer.jpg
Felix Aylmer, 1938
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 active1911–72
Cecily Byrne(m. 19151975)

Sir Felix Edward Aylmer Jones, OBE (21 February 1889 – 2 September 1979), known as Felix Aylmer, 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.

Will Hay English comedian, actor, film director

William Thomson Hay was an English comedian, actor, author, film director and amateur astronomer who came to notice for his theatrical sketch as a jocular schoolmaster, known as Dr. Muffin. The acts in which Hay performed the schoolmaster sketch became known as "The Fourth Form at St. Michael's". Hay toured with the act and appeared in the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa. He famously performed the schoolmaster routine at the 1925 Royal Command Performance before King George V and Queen Mary. From 1934 to 1943, he was a prolific film star in Britain and was ranked the third highest grossing star at the British Box Office in 1938, behind George Formby and Gracie Fields. He is widely regarded as one of the most prolific and influential British comedians of all-time.

George Formby English actor, singer-songwriter and comedian

George Formby,, was an English actor, singer-songwriter and comedian who became known to a worldwide audience through his films of the 1930s and 1940s. On stage, screen and record he sang light, comical songs, usually playing the ukulele or banjolele, and became the UK's highest-paid entertainer.


Early life

Portrait of Sir Felix Aylmer in his garden in 1973 by Allan Warren Sir Felix Aylmer Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait of Sir Felix Aylmer in his garden in 1973 by Allan Warren

Felix Aylmer was born in Corsham, Wiltshire, the son of Lilian (Cookworthy) and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Aylmer Jones. [1] [2] He was educated at King James's Grammar School, Almondbury, near Huddersfield, where he was a boarder from 1897 to 1900, [3] Magdalen College School, and Exeter College, Oxford, where he was a member of Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). [2] He trained under the Victorian-era actress and director Rosina Filippi before securing his first professional engagement at the London Coliseum in 1911. [2] He appeared in the world premiere of The Farmer's Wife by Eden Phillpotts at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1917.

Corsham town in Wiltshire, England

Corsham is a historic market town and civil parish in west Wiltshire, England. It is at the south-western edge of the Cotswolds, just off the A4 national route, which was formerly the main turnpike road from London to Bristol, 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Swindon, 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Bristol, 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Bath and 4 miles (6 km) southwest of Chippenham. Corsham is close to the county borders with Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Wiltshire County of England

Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county town was originally Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge.

Huddersfield Town in West Yorkshire, England

Huddersfield is a large market and university town in West Yorkshire, England. It is the 11th largest town in the United Kingdom, with a population of 162,949 at the 2011 census. It lies 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Leeds and 24 miles (39 km) northeast of Manchester.


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. [4]

Laurence Olivier British actor, director and producer

Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and John Gielgud, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.

William Shakespeare English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

<i>Hamlet</i> (1948 film) 1948 film by Laurence Olivier

Hamlet is a 1948 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name, adapted and directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier. Hamlet was Olivier's second film as director, and also the second of the three Shakespeare films that he directed. Hamlet was the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is also the first sound film of the play in English. A 1935 sound film adaptation, Khoon Ka Khoon, had been made in India and filmed in the Urdu language.

His memorable style of delivery—dignified and learned— [5] 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. [6] Williams observed that an impersonation of Aylmer was a speciality of a colleague during his days with ENSA, the Armed Forces Entertainment Association, but he was certain that none of the troops knew who was being impersonated.

Peter Sellers British film actor, comedian and singer

Peter Sellers, CBE was an English film actor, comedian and singer. He performed in the BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show, featured on a number of hit comic songs and became known to a worldwide audience through his many film characterisations, among them Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series of films.

Kenneth Williams English actor and comedian

Kenneth Charles Williams was an English actor, best known for his comedy roles and in later life as a raconteur and diarist. He was one of the main ensemble in 26 of the 31 Carry On films, and appeared in many British television programmes and radio comedies, including series with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.

John Mortimer English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author

Sir John Clifford Mortimer was an English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter, and author.

Aylmer was President of Equity from 1950 to 1969. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire [7] in the 1950 King's Birthday Honours and knighted [8] [9] in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

The King's Birthday Honours 1950 were appointments in many of the Commonwealth realms of King George VI to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. The appointments were made to celebrate the official birthday of the King, and were published in supplements to the London Gazette of 2 June 1950 for the British Empire, Australia, Ceylon and New Zealand.

The dignity of Knight Bachelor is the basic and lowest rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is a part of the British honours system. Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight, but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of chivalric orders.

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, aged 90, in Pyrford, Surrey in 1979.

<i>Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)</i> television series (1969-1970)

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is a British private detective television series, starring Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope respectively as the private detectives Jeffrey Randall and Martin Hopkirk. The series was created by Dennis Spooner and produced by Monty Berman, and was first broadcast in 1969 and 1970. In the United States, it was given the title My Partner the Ghost. In Spain it was entitled El Detective Fantasma.

Its Supposed to be Thicker than Water 22nd episode of the first season of Randall and Hopkirk

"It's Supposed to be Thicker than Water" is the twenty-second episode of the popular 1969 ITC British television series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. The episode was first broadcast on 13 February 1970 on the ITV. Directed by Leslie Norman.

Oh, Brother! is a British situation comedy show on BBC television starring Derek Nimmo, which was broadcast between 1968 and 1970.

Personal life

He married Cecily Minnie Jane Byrne during the First World War, and they had two children. [2]





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 JewFerera
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 WireWilton
1938 South Riding Chairman of counsel
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 The Royal Court Of Denmark - Polonius,Lord Chamberlain [10]
The Calendar Lord Forlingham
Quartet Martin(segment "The Colonel's Lady") [11]
1949 Edward, My Son Mr Hanray
Alice in Wonderland Dr Liddell / The Cheshire CatVoice
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 [12]
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
1963The Affair
The Running Man Parson
1964 Becket Archbishop of Canterbury
The Thief and the Cobbler
The Chalk Garden Judge McWhirrey
1965 Masquerade Henrickson
1968 Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher Judge
Hostile Witness Justice Osborne
1993 The Thief and the Cobbler NarratorOriginal version

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  1. Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page 14172". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2012-06-09.[ unreliable source ]
  2. 1 2 3 4 Nimmo, Derek (2004). "'Aylmer, Sir Felix (1889–1979)'". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30776 . Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  3. Hinchliffe, Gerald (1963). A history of the King James's Grammar School in Almondbury. Huddersfield: Advertiser Press. p. 234.
  4. "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.
  5. Darlington, William A. (4 February 1979). "Sir Felix Aylmer, distinguished actor". The Daily Telegraph . London.
  6. 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.
  7. "No. 38929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1950. pp. 2786–2786.
  8. "No. 43667". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1965. p. 5471.
  9. "No. 43720". The London Gazette . 23 July 1965. p. 7029.
  10. Campbell Dixon (23 April 2014). "Shakespeare: Laurence Olivier as Hamlet: original 1948 Telegraph review". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  11. Simon Heffer (21 August 2015). "The unsung greatness of George Cole". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  12. Henry Barnes (11 June 2015). "Christopher Lee: a career in clips". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2016. bumbling archaeologists (Felix Aylmer...