May 30, 1912
Marian Glas, Anglesey, North Wales, Wales, United Kingdom
May 14, 1980
Actor, Bank clerk
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Wild-eyed, with a hook nose and often sporting a pointed beard and mustache, this Welsh character actor turned in a number of flamboyant, hearty performances. Hugh Griffith got a relatively late start. Born in Wales, he worked as a bank clerk until 1939, when he made his stage debut at the age of 27, and entered films the next year with the British-made "Neutral Port." Griffith spent the 1940s and 50s slowly building up his film career (making only one US release, "So Evil My Love" 1948). He played supporting roles in twenty or so films, including some successes like "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949) and "The Sleeping Tiger" (1954) before scoring his biggest hit in the US-made 1959 remake of "Ben Hur." Playing Sheik Ilderim, the wry chariot mogul, Griffith earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.Griffith worked steadily for the next two decades, turning in estimable performances in another 34 films, most of them British-made. These included big-budget hits and misses such as "Story on Page One" (1959), "Exodus" (1960), "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1962), "Tom Jones" (for which he earned a second Best Supporting Actor nomination), "How to Steal a Million" (1966) and "Oliver!" (1968). Quality fell off somewhat in the 70s, with schlock like "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971), "Who Slew Auntie Roo?" (1971) and "The Last Remake of Beau Geste" (1977). Griffith also appeared in two TV-movies, "Inn of the Flying Dragon" (NBC, 1960) and "The Poppy is Also a Flower" (ABC, 1966).