JAMES MASON Biography - Actors and Actresses


Biography » actors and actresses » james mason


Name: James Neville Mason                                                                       
Born: 15 May 1909 Huddersfield, England, United Kingdom                                         
Died: 27 July 1984 Lausanne, Switzerland                                                       
James Neville Mason (15 May 1909 – 27 July 1984) was a three-time Academy Award-nominated     
English actor who attained stardom in both British and American films.                         
Mason was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England to John and Mabel Mason;               
his father was a wealthy merchant. Mason had no formal training as an actor and                 
initially embarked upon it as a lark. He studied architecture at Peterhouse,                   
Cambridge, where he got a first degree, but got involved in stock theatre                       
companies in his spare time before joining the Old Vic theatre in London under                 
the guidance of Tyrone Guthrie and Alexander Korda who gave Mason a small film                 
role in 1933 but fired him a few days into shooting.                                           
From 1935 to 1948 he starred in many British quota quickies. A conscientious                   
objector during World War II (something which caused his family to break with                   
him for many years), he became immensely popular for his brooding anti-heroes in               
the Gainsborough series of melodramas of the 1940s, including The Man in Grey                   
and The Wicked Lady. He also starred with Deborah Kerr and Robert Newton in 1942's             
Hatter's Castle. In 1949 he made his first Hollywood film, Caught, and then went               
on to star in many more feature films and early TV shows. Nominated three times                 
for an Oscar, he never won one.                                                                 
Mason's distinctive voice enabled him to play a menacing villain as greatly as                 
his good looks assisted him as a leading man. His roles include the declining                   
actor in the 1954 version of A Star Is Born, a mortally wounded Irish                           
revolutionary in Odd Man Out (1946), Brutus in Julius Caesar (1953), General                   
Erwin Rommel twice - in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951), and in The                 
Desert Rats (1953) - Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), a                     
suave master spy in North by Northwest (1959), a determined explorer in Journey                 
to the Center of the Earth (also 1959), Humbert Humbert in Stanley Kubrick's                   
Lolita (1962) and the vampire's servant, Richard Straker, in Salem's Lot (1979).               
One of his last roles, that of a corrupt lawyer in The Verdict (1982), earned                   
him his third and final Oscar nomination.                                                       
Mason was once considered to play James Bond in a 1958 TV adaptation of From                   
Russia with Love, which was ultimately never produced. Despite being in his                     
fifties, he was still under consideration to play Bond in Dr. No before Sean                   
Connery was cast. He was also approached to appear as Bond villain Hugo Drax in                 
Moonraker (1979), however, he turned this down despite his renowned tendency to                 
take any job offered him -- which led to appearances in films such as The Yin                   
and the Yang of Mr. Go, Bloodline and Hunt the Man Down.                                       
Throughout his career, Mason remained a powerful figure in the industry and he                 
is now regarded as one of the finest film actors of the 20th century.                           
In the late 1970s, Mason became a mentor to up-and-coming actor Sam Neill.                     
Late in life, he served as narrator for a British television series on the films               
of Charlie Chaplin, Unknown Chaplin, which was aired in the U.S. on PBS and                     
later issued on home video.