Augustus George Andrews
10 April 1868
|Died||5 February 1946 77) (aged|
George Arliss (born Augustus George Andrews; 10 April 1868 – 5 February 1946) was an English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker who found success in the United States. He was the first British actor to win an Academy Award – which he won for his performance as Victorian-era British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli (1929) – as well as the earliest-born actor to win the honour. He specialized in successful biopics, such as Disraeli, Voltaire (1933), and Cardinal Richelieu (1935), as well as light comedies, which included The Millionaire (1931) and A Successful Calamity (1932).
His career ranged from being a star of the legitimate theatre, then silent films, then sound films.
Arliss was born in London and commonly listed as George Augustus Andrews. His relatives referred to him as Uncle Gus. He started work in the publishing office of his father, William Joseph Arliss Andrews, but left at age 18 to go on the stage.
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Arliss began his theatre career in the British provinces in 1887 and by 1900 was playing London's West End in supporting roles. He embarked for a tour of America in 1901 in Mrs. Patrick Campbell's troupe, intending to remain in the United States only for the length of the tour.
Arliss stayed for twenty years, making his Broadway debut in Magda (1902).  He eventually became a star in 1908 in The Devil. Producer George Tyler commissioned Louis Napoleon Parker in 1911 to write a play specifically tailored for Arliss, and the actor toured in Disraeli for five years, eventually becoming closely identified with the 19th-century British prime minister.
Writing in Vanity Fair in 1919, he outlined his plan for a nonprofit called the Theatre Annex, which would allow new plays to be tested under special conditions. 
He began his film career with The Devil (1921), followed by Disraeli and four other silent films. Today, only The Devil, Disraeli, $20 a Week, and The Green Goddess (1923), based on the hit stage play in which he had starred, are known to have survived. He remade both The Green Goddess and Disraeli in sound in 1929 (and won the Best Actor Academy Award for Disraeli), converting successfully at the age of 61 from a star of the legitimate theatre, and then silent films, to sound films.
Arliss made 10 sound films exclusively for Warner Bros. under a contract that gave the star an unusual amount of creative control for the time. Curiously, his casting of actors and rewriting of scripts were privileges granted him by the studio that are not even mentioned in his contract. One of these films, The Man Who Played God (1932), was Bette Davis's first leading role. Until the end of Davis's life, she credited Arliss for personally insisting upon her as his leading lady and giving her a chance to show her abilities. The two also co-starred in The Working Man in 1933.
Arliss built a production unit at Warners' both in front of and behind the cameras. Maude T. Howell, his stage manager, became an assistant producer and was one of the few female film executives in Hollywood at that time. After his first three films, Arliss approved John Adolfi, a capable Warners director who was open to collaboration with him. Adolfi soon was regarded as a successful director of the critically and financially acclaimed Arliss films. Arliss preferred to use the same reliable actors, such as Ivan Simpson (who was also a sculptor) and Charles Evans. He had an eye for discovering unknown talent, such as James Cagney, Randolph Scott and Dick Powell. Despite his extensive involvement in the planning and production of his films, Arliss claimed credit only for acting.
After having worked closely with Warners' production chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, Arliss left the studio when Zanuck resigned in April 1933 and set up 20th Century Pictures. A month later Adolfi died suddenly. Zanuck quickly signed Arliss to make new films at 20th Century, prompting Warners' to complain to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences that Zanuck had "stolen" their star.
He often appeared with his wife Florence Arliss.  Florence (or "Flo", as George called her) starred both on stage and in films, both silent and sound, with her husband and almost always played his character's spouse. However, that did not prevent Arliss from using another actress when Flo was not right for a role. Also, Flo turned down roles that George wanted her to play in some films.
Arliss is best remembered primarily for his witty series of historical biopics, such as Alexander Hamilton (1931), Voltaire (1933), The House of Rothschild (1934), The Iron Duke (1934), and Cardinal Richelieu (1935). However, he also had a series of domestic comedies such as The Millionaire (1931, A Successful Calamity (1932), The Working Man (1933), and The Last Gentleman (1934).
In 1934, British film goers named Arliss their favourite male star. 
Arliss was approaching 70 when he completed the British-made Doctor Syn in 1937. He and Flo returned to America later that year to visit old friends, including famed astronomer Edwin Hubble in California. Producer-director Cecil B. DeMille arranged for the Arlisses to re-enact their roles in Disraeli on Lux Radio Theatre, DeMille's popular radio show, in January 1938. The occasion was heralded as "a new page in radio history". George and Flo subsequently appeared on Lux in radio adaptations of The Man Who Played God in March 1938 and in Cardinal Richelieu in January 1939, which was apparently their final dramatic appearance anywhere. Returning to their home in London in April 1939, the onset of the Second World War prevented their return to America during Arliss's remaining years. The only taint of scandal involved charges by the British Government in September 1941 that Arliss had not complied with a recent requirement to report bank accounts he maintained in the U.S. and Canada (similar charges were also brought against actor-playwright Noël Coward around the same time). Both men claimed ignorance of the new law, but they were fined and publicly humiliated by the experience.
On 14 September 1899, Arliss married Florence Arliss (née Florence Kate Montgomery Smith) (1870–1950),  to whom he was married until his death. (Leslie Arliss, who became a prolific producer-director for Gainsborough Pictures, is erroneously referred to as their son in some reference works.)
Arliss was a prominent anti-vivisectionist who founded the National Anti-Vivisection Society of Chicago. He was president of the Episcopal Actors' Guild of America from 1921 to 1938. 
He was a strict vegetarian, stating that "I eat nothing I can pat".  Arliss walked four miles each day and took interest in aerobics. 
In retirement Arliss settled at Pangbourne in Berkshire. Film producer Darryl F. Zanuck tried to interest him in returning to Hollywood to star in The Pied Piper in 1942. Instead, Arliss lived out the Luftwaffe's Blitz on London and died in Maida Hill in London of a bronchial ailment on 5 February 1946, aged 77.  His gravestone spurns his success in the performing arts in favor of the one achievement of which he was apparently most proud: an honorary Master of Arts degree he received from Columbia University in 1919.
Arliss wrote the autobiography Up the Years from Bloomsbury in 1927. 
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6648-1/2 Hollywood Boulevard.  He was a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame. 
|1921||The Devil||Dr. Muller|
|1922||The Man Who Played God||Montgomery Royle|
|1922||The Ruling Passion||James Alden|
|1922||The Starland Review||Himself||archive|
|1923||The Green Goddess||Rajah of Rukh|
|1924||Twenty Dollars a Week||John Reeves|
|1929||Disraeli||Benjamin Disraeli||Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1930||The Green Goddess||Raja of Rukh||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1930||Old English||Sylvanus Heythorp|
|1931||Alexander Hamilton||Alexander Hamilton|
|1931||The Millionaire||James Alden|
|1932||A Successful Calamity||Henry Wilton|
|1932||The Man Who Played God||Montgomery Royle||Released as The Silent Voice in the United Kingdom|
|1933||The Working Man||John Reeves|
|1933||The King's Vacation||Phillip, the King|
|1934||The Iron Duke||Duke of Wellington|
|1934||The Last Gentleman||Cabot Barr|
|1934||The House of Rothschild||Mayer Rothschild / Nathan Rothschild||Finale filmed in Technicolor|
|1935||The Tunnel||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom||Released as Transatlantic Tunnel in the United States|
|1935||Cardinal Richelieu||Cardinal Richelieu|
|1935||The Guv'nor||The Guv'nor||Released as Mister Hobo in the United States|
|1936||His Lordship||Richard Fraser/Lorimer, Lord Duncaster||Released as Man of Affairs in the United States|
|1936||East Meets West||Sultan of Rungay|
|1937||Doctor Syn||Dr. Syn|
|1939||Land of Liberty||archive footage|
|1943||The Voice That Thrilled the World||Himself||segment Disraeli – archive footage, uncredited|
The 1931 short film Impressions of Disraeli was made in England for the Tory Party and was introduced by Stanley Baldwin. The film is extant.
The House of Rothschild is a 1934 American pre-Code historical drama film directed by Alfred L. Werker and starring George Arliss, Loretta Young and Boris Karloff. It was adapted by Nunnally Johnson from the play by George Hembert Westley, and chronicles the rise of the Rothschild family of European bankers.
Disraeli is a 1929 American pre-Code historical film directed by Alfred E. Green, released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., and adapted by Julien Josephson (screenplay) and De Leon Anthony (titles) from the 1911 play Disraeli by Louis N. Parker.
Mary Anne Disraeli, 1st Viscountess Beaconsfield was a British peeress and society figure who was the wife of the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli.
The Green Goddess is a 1930 American pre-Code film directed by Alfred E. Green. It was a remake of the 1923 silent film, which was in turn based on the play of the same name by William Archer. It was produced by Warner Bros. using their new Vitaphone sound system, and adapted by Julien Josephson.
Florence Lawrence was a Canadian-American stage performer and film actress. She is often referred to as the "first movie star", and was long thought to be the first film actor to be named publicly until evidence published in 2019 indicated that the first named film star was French actor Max Linder. At the height of her fame in the 1910s, she was known as the "Biograph Girl" for work as one of the leading ladies in silent films from the Biograph Company. She appeared in almost 300 films for various motion picture companies throughout her career.
Darryl Francis Zanuck was an American film producer and studio executive; he earlier contributed stories for films starting in the silent era. He played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors. He produced three films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture during his tenure.
Henry Byron Warner was an English film and theatre actor. He was popular during the silent era and played Jesus Christ in The King of Kings. In later years, he successfully moved into supporting roles and appeared in numerous films directed by Frank Capra. Warner's most recognizable role to modern audiences is Mr. Gower in the perennially shown film It's a Wonderful Life, directed by Capra. He appeared in the original 1937 version of Lost Horizon as Chang, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Lyle Florenz Talbot was an American stage, screen and television actor. His career in films spanned three decades, from 1931 to 1960, and he performed on a wide variety of television series from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. Among his notable roles on television was his portrayal of Ozzie Nelson's friend and neighbor Joe Randolph, a character he played for ten years on the ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
The Man Who Played God is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by John G. Adolfi. George Arliss stars as a concert pianist embittered by the loss of his hearing, who eventually finds redemption by helping others; it also features a then little-known Bette Davis as the much younger woman engaged to the protagonist.
John Gustav Adolfi was an American silent film director, actor, and screenwriter who was involved in more than 100 productions throughout his career. An early acting credit was in the recently restored 1912 film Robin Hood.
Florence Auer was an American theater and motion picture actress whose career spanned more than five decades.
The Working Man is a 1933 pre-Code American comedy film starring George Arliss and Bette Davis, and directed by John G. Adolfi. The screenplay by Charles Kenyon and Maude T. Howell is based on the story The Adopted Father by Edgar Franklin. The film is preserved in the Library of Congress collection.
Murray Kinnell was a British-born American actor, recognized for playing smooth, gentlemanly, although rather shady characters. He began acting on the English stage in 1907, toured in the United States from 1912 through 1914, then returned to England where he served in the British Army during World War I. After the war, he emigrated to the US. He appeared in 71 films between the pre-code era of 1930 and 1937. He later served the Screen Actors Guild in several positions for 16 years.
Margaret Dale was an American stage and film actress. She performed on Broadway for over fifty years and occasionally did films in the 1920s. She appeared in a large number of Broadway hits over the course of her years as an actress.
Florence Kate Arliss was an English actress. She was married to George Arliss with whom she often costarred. She played his wife in films like Disraeli, The Millionaire, and The House of Rothschild.
Alexander Hamilton is a 1931 American pre-Code biographical film about Alexander Hamilton, produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and based on the 1917 play Hamilton by George Arliss and Mary Hamlin. It was directed by John G. Adolfi and stars Arliss in the title role. It follows the attempts of Hamilton to establish a new financial structure for the United States following the Confederation Period and the establishment of a new Constitution in 1787. It is preserved at the Library of Congress.
Disraeli (1921) is an American silent historical drama film directed by Henry Kolker and starring George Arliss. This film features Arliss's portrayal of Benjamin Disraeli. He had played the same role in the play Disraeli in 1911. Arliss also reprised this role in the 1929 sound film Disraeli.
Disraeli is a 1916 British silent biographical film directed by Charles Calvert and Percy Nash and starring Dennis Eadie, Mary Jerrold and Cyril Raymond. The film was based on the 1911 play Disraeli by Louis N. Parker, which was adapted twice more, as a 1921 silent version and most famously in 1929, as an early sound film. It was made at Ealing Studios.
Disraeli is a biographical play by the British writer Louis N. Parker, which was first staged in 1911. The play was commissioned by the actor George Arliss who saw a portrayal of the Victorian British statesman Benjamin Disraeli as an ideal vehicle for his stage career. It was written in London during 1910. Parker suffered from writer's block at one point and received some assistance from Arliss. Parker included a subplot lifted from the 1839 play Richelieu by Edward Bulwer-Lytton which was later the subject of some controversy. He added a number of fictitious characters to add excitement and drama to the story. The real role of Lionel de Rothschild in the purchase was changed to that of the fictional banker Meyers. The play premièred at Wallack's Theatre in New York City on 18 September 1911.
Ivan F. Simpson was a Scottish film and stage actor.