ROBERT DONAT Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Friedrich Robert Donath                                                       
Born: 18 March 1905 Withington, Manchester, England                                 
Died: 9 June 1958 London, England                                                   
Friedrich Robert Donath (March 18, 1905 - June 9, 1958), better known by his       
stage name Robert Donat, was a distinguished Academy Award-winning English film     
and stage actor of English, Polish and German descent. He was born in Withington,   
Manchester, England.                                                               
Donat made his first stage appearance in 1921 and his film debut in 1932 in Men     
of Tomorrow. His first great screen success came with The Private Life of Henry     
VIII (playing Thomas Culpepper), under the renowned film director and producer     
Alexander Korda. He had a successful screen image as an English gentleman who       
was neither haughty nor common. That made him something of a novelty in British     
films at the time, and he was likened by critics to Hollywood's Clark Gable and     
Gary Cooper. His most successful films included The Ghost Goes West (1935),         
Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935), The Citadel (1938), for which he received his     
first Oscar nomination, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). For the latter, he won       
the Academy Award for Best Actor, beating out Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind,   
Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights and James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to       
Washington. He was a major theatre star, noted for his performances in The Devil's 
Disciple (1938), Heartbreak House (1942), Much Ado About Nothing (1946), and       
especially as Thomas Becket in T. S. Elliot's Murder in the Cathedral at the Old   
Vic Theatre (1952).                                                                 
However, he suffered from ill-health (chronic asthma) which shortened his career   
and limited him to twenty films. His final role was as the mandarin of Yang         
Cheng in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958). He died of an asthma attack on     
June 9 of that year at age 53 in London, England.                                   
Donat was twice married, first to Ella Annesley Voysey (1929-1946), by whom he     
had 3 children, and subsequently to British actress RenĂ©e Asherson (1953-1958).   
Robert Donat has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures at       
6420 Hollywood Blvd.