July 31, 1920
December 6, 1992
Humble Cockney origins eventually paid off for Percy Herbert, a beefy and bent-nosed veteran of World War II who became a reliable resource for directors needing a gruff, working-class British soldier for their war pictures. In Jose Ferrer's "The Cockleshell Heroes" he plays one of the doomed soldiers on a bizarre kayaking mission into occupied France. In David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai," he appears as one of the more reluctant bridge-building prisoners. And for director Ronald Neame he became reacquainted with Alec Guinness, once again playing a mildly deranged character, in "Tunes of Glory." Science fiction movies also attracted Herbert, who could make an unworldly impression with his imposing physique and distinctive accent. He appeared in the second installment of the quirky Quatermass franchise, and played a dangerous farmer in Jacques Tourneur's "Curse of the Demon." His military and fantastical qualities were brought together in 1961's "Mysterious Island," where he played a soldier caught up in a Jules Verne phantasmagoria. For the British television series "The Worker," he had a recurring role opposite Charlie Drake. Herbert had an American sojourn for the late '60s series "Cimarron Strip," for which he affected a believable Scottish brogue. In his twilight years, he was one of the aging seamen in the 1980 film "The Sea Wolves," his penultimate film role.