Born in Toronto in 1896 he was educated at Oxford. He made his stage debut in 1922 in London. His film debut came in 1929. Throughout the 1930s and 40s he alternated between England and Hollywood. He played a memorable Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and even the enormous sets and brilliant cast of Things to Come didn't subsume his role. He moved permanently to America in 1941 and became naturalized in 1944, however he returned to England for A Matter of Life and Death in 1946, excelling again in a small part. He died from pneumonia in 1983, his son Daniel also became an actor with moderate success.
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