Finlay Currie

Last updated

Finlay Currie
Finlay Currie Ivanhoe trailer (1952).jpg
Trailer for Ivanhoe (1952)
William Finlay Currie

(1878-01-20)20 January 1878
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Died9 May 1968(1968-05-09) (aged 90)
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England
Resting placeBreakspear Crematorium, Ruislip, London, England
Years active1898–1968
Maude Courtney
(m. 1905;died 1959)

William Finlay Currie [1] (20 January 1878 – 9 May 1968) was a Scottish actor of stage, screen, and television. [2] [3] He received great acclaim for his roles as Abel Magwitch in the British film Great Expectations (1946) and as Balthazar in the American film Ben-Hur (1959). [4] [5]


In his career spanning 70 years, Currie appeared in seven films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, of which Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959) were winners. [6] [7]


Currie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. [1] He attended George Watson's College and worked as organist and choir director. [4] In 1898 he got his first job in Benjamin Fuller's theatre group, and appeared with them for almost 10 years. [8]

After emigrating to the United States in the late 1890s, Currie and his wife, Maude Courtney, did a song-and-dance act on the stage. [4] He made his first film , The Old Man, in 1931. [3] He appeared as a priest in the 1943 Ealing Second World War film Undercover (1943). [9] His most famous film role was the convict, Abel Magwitch, in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946). [8] He also earned praise for his portrayal of Queen Victoria's highland attendant John Brown in The Mudlark (1950). [1]

In the following years he appeared in Hollywood film epics, including such roles as Saint Peter in Quo Vadis (1951), as Balthazar, one of the Three Magi, in the multi-Oscar-winning Ben-Hur (1959); the Pope in Francis of Assisi (1961); and an aged, wise senator in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). He appeared in People Will Talk with Cary Grant; and portrayed Robert Taylor's embittered father, Sir Cedric, in MGM's Technicolor version of Ivanhoe (1952). [3] But Ivanhoe also gave Currie one of his most delightful roles, highlighting his comic capabilities, as well as a willingness to still do some action scenes, even in his 70s.

Television roles included Sir Gideon Murray in Alexander Reid's The Lass wi' the Muckle Mou, broadcast by the BBC on 6 October 1953. [10] In 1962, he starred in an episode of NBC's The DuPont Show of the Week , The Ordeal of Dr. Shannon , an adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel, Shannon's Way .

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in February 1963, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre in London.[ citation needed ]

In 1966, Currie played Mr. Lundie, the minister, in the television adaptation of the musical Brigadoon . [11] His last performance was for the television series The Saint which starred Roger Moore. Currie played a dying mafioso boss in the two-part episode "Vendetta for the Saint", which was shown posthumously in 1969. [12]

Late in life, he became a much respected antiques dealer, specialising in coins and precious metals. He was also a longtime collector of the works of Robert Burns. [1]

Personal life and death

Currie was married to American actress Maude Courtney. [1] [4] They had two children, George and Marion. [1]

Currie died on 9 May 1968 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire at age 90. [3] His ashes were scattered in Breakspear Crematorium, Ruislip, Middlesex.

Complete filmography

Partial television credits

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Hawkins</span> British actor (1910-1973)

John Edward Hawkins, CBE was an English actor who worked on stage and in film from the 1930s until the 1970s. One of the most popular British film stars of the 1950s, he was known for his portrayal of military men.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gordon Jackson (actor)</span> Scottish actor (1923–1990)

Gordon Cameron Jackson, was a Scottish actor best remembered for his roles as the butler Angus Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs and as George Cowley, the head of CI5, in The Professionals. He also portrayed Capt Jimmy Cairns in Tunes of Glory, and Flt. Lt. Andrew MacDonald, "Intelligence", in The Great Escape.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wilfrid Hyde-White</span> British actor (1903–1991)

Wilfrid Hyde-White was an English actor. Described by Philip French as a "classic British film archetype", Hyde-White often portrayed droll and urbane upper-class characters. He had an extensive stage and screen career in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and portrayed over 160 film and television roles between 1935 and 1987. He was twice nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, in 1957 for The Reluctant Debutante and in 1973 for The Jockey Club Stakes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Watling</span> English actor (1923–2001)

Jack Stanley Watling was an English actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ben Wright (English actor)</span> British actor (1915–1989)

Benjamin Huntington Wright was an English actor. He was best known for playing Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music. He also played numerous roles in famous films and worked as voice actor, having roles in animated films by Disney Studios.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Coulouris</span> Greek/ English actor (1903–1989)

George Alexander Coulouris was an English film and stage actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Douglas Fowley</span> American actor (1911–1998)

Douglas Fowley was an American movie and television actor in more than 240 films and dozens of television programs, He is probably best remembered for his role as the frustrated movie director Roscoe Dexter in Singin' in the Rain (1952), and for his regular supporting role as Doc Holliday in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. He was the father of rock and roll musician and record producer Kim Fowley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barry Kelley</span> American actor (1908–1991)

Edward Barry Kelley was an American actor on Broadway in the 1930s and 1940s and in films during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The heavy-set actor created the role of Ike in Oklahoma! on Broadway. His large size and acting range had him playing primarily judges, detectives, and police officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Raymond Huntley</span> English actor (1904–1990)

Horace Raymond Huntley was an English actor who appeared in dozens of British films from the 1930s to the 1970s. He also appeared in the ITV period drama Upstairs, Downstairs as the pragmatic family solicitor Sir Geoffrey Dillon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Morris Ankrum</span> American actor (1896–1964)

Morris Ankrum was an American radio, television, and film character actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurence Payne</span>

Laurence Stanley Payne was an English actor and novelist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terence Longdon</span> English actor (1922–2011)

Terence Longdon was an English actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norma Varden</span> English-American actress (1898–1989)

Norma Varden Shackleton, known professionally as Norma Varden, was an English-American actress with a long film career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ian Wolfe</span> American actor (1896–1992)

Ian Marcus Wolfe was an American character actor with around 400 film and television credits. Until 1934, he worked in the theatre. That year, he appeared in his first film role and later television, as a character actor. His career lasted seven decades and included many films and TV series; his last screen credit was in 1990.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ralph Truman</span> British actor (1900-1977)

Ralph du Vergier Truman was an English actor, usually cast as either a villain or an authority figure. He possessed a distinguished speaking voice. He was born in London, England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noel Purcell (actor)</span> Irish actor (1900–1985)

Patrick Joseph Noel Purcell was a distinguished Irish actor of stage, screen, and television. He appeared in the 1956 film Moby Dick and the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lumsden Hare</span> American actor

Francis Lumsden Hare was an Irish-born American film and theatre actor. He was also a theatre director and theatrical producer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Shepley</span> British actor (1907–1961)

Arthur Michael Shepley-Smith, known professionally as Michael Shepley, was a British actor, appearing in theatre, film and some television between 1929 and 1961.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Melford</span> British actor

John Kenneth George Melford Smith was a British stage, film and television actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Damian O'Flynn</span> American actor

Damian O'Flynn was an Irish-American actor of film and television originally from Holt, Nebraska.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Currie, (William) Finlay (1878–1968)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55968.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. McFarlane, Brian (28 February 2014). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. pp. 175-176; ISBN   9781526111968
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Finlay Currie". BFI . Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "BFI Screenonline: Currie, Finlay (1878–1968) Biography".
  5. "Ben-Hur (1959) – William Wyler – Review". AllMovie.
  6. "1957: Around the World in 80 Days | The Oscars, from Wings to Spotlight: the 88 films to win Best Picture - Film". 24 February 2017. Archived from the original on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  7. "1960: Ben-Hur | The Oscars, from Wings to Spotlight: the 88 films to win Best Picture - Film". 24 February 2017. Archived from the original on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  8. 1 2 "Finlay Currie – Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  9. "Undercover (1943) – Sergei Nolbandov – Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  10. The Lass wi' the Muckle Mou , Scotland On-Air
  11. "Brigadoon (1966)". BFI. Archived from the original on 3 December 2018.
  12. "Finlay Currie – Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.