Michael Balfour (actor)

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Michael Balfour
Michael Balfour (actor).jpg
Born11 February 1918
Dover, Kent, England, UK
Died24 October 1997(1997-10-24) (aged 79)
Esher, Surrey, England, UK
OccupationActor, sculptor and clown
Spouse(s)Kathleen Stuart
ChildrenShane Balfour and Perry Balfour

Michael Creighton Balfour (11 February 1918 – 24 October 1997) was an English actor, working mainly in British films and TV, following his TV debut in the BBC's The Marvellous History of St Bernard, in 1938. [1] He was a recognisable face, often in small character parts and supporting roles, in nearly two hundred films and TV shows, from the 1940s to the 1990s, [2] often playing comical heavies or otherwise shady characters notable for their "loud" clothes, sometimes convincingly cast as an American.


He worked for a roll call of film directors, including Tony Richardson, Pete Walker, Billy Wilder, Lewis Gilbert, Roman Polanski, Leslie Norman, Tim Burton, John Frankenheimer, François Truffaut, John Gilling, Stanley Donen, Ken Annakin, Cavalcanti, Lance Comfort, Terence Young, Gerald Thomas, Pasolini, John Paddy Carstairs, Terence Fisher, Val Guest, Frank Launder, John Huston, Basil Dearden and Howard Hawks. [2] [3]

Balfour had parts in many popular TV shows of the era including Educated Evans , Mess Mates , Danger Man , The Avengers , Hancock's Half Hour , Dixon of Dock Green , Rogue's Gallery , Z-Cars , The Onedin Line , and the detective drama The Vise , playing Saber's assistant Barney O'Keefe. [4] [1]

Balfour was also known as the passenger in the car driven by actor Bonar Colleano when it crashed, killing Colleano. Balfour's injuries required him to have 98 stitches, but he was released from hospital in time to attend Colleano's funeral. [5] [1]

As his screen career began to slow down in the late 1970s, Michael Balfour went on tour with European circuses, as a clown. He founded Circus Hazzard, and created his own clown character. [6] His son later became a circus manager. [7]

As well as performing, Balfour was a dedicated painter and sculptor, and in later years turned increasingly to sculpture and the arts, even running his own gallery for a while. [6] For his subjects, he frequently drew on his own family career as a circus clown. [8]

Selected filmography

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  1. 1 2 3 "The Danger Man Website". Danger-man.co.uk. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Michael Balfour". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  3. "Michael Balfour". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  4. Hal Erickson (2014). "Michael Balfour : Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  5. "BBC ON THIS DAY 15 December 1958: Film stars raise cash for Colleano". BBC Online . Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. 1 2 "Michael Balfour". Thehazzards.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  7. "sculpture of a clown by Michael Balfour". eBay. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  8. "Michael Balfour (1918-97) Sculpture 'Binky' A bust - by Dickins Auctioneers". Invaluable.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014.