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Subject: ARCHIVE: April 25, 1995 ~Alexander Knox, Golden Globe-winning Canadian-born actor of stage, screen, and occasionally TV, remembered for his decade-long Hollywood career, earning Oscar nomination in lead role as Woodrow Wilson in the biopic, "Wilson" (1944), but relocated to UK after the Blacklist scare of the 1950s, dies after decades of stage/film success in Europe, at age 88. ...

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Date Posted: Thursday, April 25, 07:58:15pm

Alexander Knox
(16 January 1907 25 April 1995)

Canadian actor on stage, screen, and occasionally television. He was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance as Woodrow Wilson in the film Wilson (1944). Although his liberal views forced him to leave Hollywood because of McCarthyism, Knox had a long career. He was also an author, writing adventure novels set in the Great Lakes area during the 19th century, as well as plays and detective novels.

Life and career
Knox was born in Strathroy, Ontario, a Presbyterian minister's son, softly-spoken, intellectual-looking Alexander Knox received his education from the University of Western Ontario, later studying English literature. An excellent elocutionist, member of the university's Hesperian Club, he had his first fling with dramatic acting playing the lead in "Hamlet". He later moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to perform on stage with the Boston Repertory Theatre. His professional theatrical debut on the Boston stage in 1929, while simultaneously earning an income as a journalist for the Boston Post. After the company folded following the stock market crash of 1929, Knox returned to London, Ontario where, for the next two years, he went looking for better acting opportunities in England, specializing in 'serious', classical parts which required just the right measure of 'gravitas'. During another journalistic stint with the London Advertiser, he made the acquaintance of noted stage director and producer Tyrone Guthrie, who helped him to make a name for himself on the London stage at the Old Vic. As the decade progressed, Knox appeared opposite such theatrical icons as Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier (in "The King of Nowhere"), and in plays by James Bridie and George Bernard Shaw.

...After his journalism work for the Advertiser before moving to London, England where, during the 1930s, appearing in several films, where in 1938 earned notice in "Phantom Strikes", and in "The Four Feathers" (1939). But the outbreak of World War II prompted his return to America. In 1940, Knox got his big break on Broadway, playing the part of Friar Laurence in "Romeo and Juliet", written and staged by Olivier and starring Vivien Leigh as Juliet. A later leading role in "The Three Sisters" (1942-43), a turn-of-the-century drama set in Russia, saw him as Baron Tuzenbach opposite Katharine Cornell and Judith Anderson. With good critical notices, it became only a matter of time before the screen beckoned again. In 1941, Knox made his Hollywood film bow and was perfectly cast as the quiet intellectual Humphrey Van Weyden, protagonist of Jack London's maritime classic The Sea Wolf (1941). His performance was somewhat overshadowed by those of his co-stars, Edward G. Robinson (in the titular role of Wolf Larsen) and the dynamic John Garfield (as chief mutineer George Leech), but it led to further work as a reliable lead character player.

A big break came starring opposite Jessica Tandy in the 1940 Broadway production of Jupiter Laughs and, in 1944, from which he was chosen by Darryl F. Zanuck to star in a Hollywood technicolor biopic "Wilson" (1944), the biographical film about American President Woodrow Wilson, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Columnist Bosley Crowther commented for The New York Times (August 2, 1944): "Much of the film's quality is due to the performance of Alexander Knox in the title role. Mr. Knox....draws a character that is full of inner strength - honest, forceful and intelligent, yet marked by a fine reserve... The casting of Mr. Knox, a comparative unknown, in this role was truly inspired". Despite the excellent personal notices, 'Wilson' was a rather slow and ponderous affair, a flop at the box office and one of Zanuck's most conspicuous failures. His personal reputation intact, Knox had several leading roles come his way in the wake of 'Wilson'. Other major Hollywood roles in "None Shall Escape" (1944), "Over 21" (1945), "Sister Kenny" (1946), "Tokyo Joe" (1949), and "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" (1951). However, during the McCarthy Era, his liberal views and work with the Committee for the First Amendment hurt his career, though he was not actually blacklisted, and he returned to Britain, and cast in Euopean films, "Europa '51" (1952), "The Divided Heart" (1954), and "The Vikings" (1958), as well as supporting roles late in his career, such as in The Damned (1963), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Joshua Then and Now (1985; his last film role) and the miniseries Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

He wrote six adventure novels: Bride of Quietness (1933), Night of the White Bear (1971), The Enemy I Kill (1972), Raider's Moon,
The Kidnapped Surgeon and Totem Dream. He also wrote plays and at least three detective novels under a pseudonym prior to 1945.

Personal life

...Knox was married to American actress Doris Nolan (19161998) from 1944 until his death in 1995.
They starred together in the 1949 Broadway play The Closing Door, which Knox also wrote.
They had a son Andrew Joseph Knox (born 1947; committed suicide in 1987) who became
an actor and appeared in Doctor on the Go, and who was married to Imogen Hassall.

Alexander Knox, 88, died in Berwick-upon-Tweed,
Northumberland from bone cancer, and later cremated.


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Subject Author Date
Trivia: Actor Dwight Frye was set to appear in "Wilson" but died before filming (NT)RenfieldFriday, April 26, 11:35:40am
Sadly, Alexander Knox was another celeb to outlive a child. ...Son Andrew Joseph Knox (1947-1987), who became an actor and married to actress Imogen Hassal, committed suicide in 1987.Friday, April 26, 11:52:43am

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