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Subject: Archive: Michael Wilding, July 8, 1979

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Date Posted: Monday, July 08, 01:54:57pm

Michael Wilding, the actor, died yesterday, 12 hours after he was injured in a fall on Saturday at his country home in Chichester, England. He was 66 years old and had been in failing health for some time.

The police said the actor, who was once married to Elizabeth Taylor, was taken to a hospital, where he died without regaining consciousness. His son Michael Jr. was at his bedside.

A spokesman for Miss Taylor, now the wife of Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, said she was “very upset.” He said Miss Taylor would go to London to join the two sons she bore Mr. Wilding, Michael Jr. and Christopher, who was reported to be en route to England from Los Angeles.
Since January 1976, Mr. Wilding had lived in the Chichester cottage, in Sussex, after the death of his fourth wife, the actress Margaret Leighton. According to Anna Neagle, with whom he appeared in his early films, “He had been frail since his last wife died. Michael was one of the most charming people I ever met. Everyone loved him but he was never a strong man physically.”

Aristocratic and Debonair
Mr. Wilding, a tall, aristocratic, debonair actor with fine‐chiseled features, was one of the most popular stars among English moviegoers in the 1940's.

He first attracted notice in this country in 1949 as an elegant Irish lord in Alfred Hitchcock's “Under Capricorn,” a brooding tale set in 19th‐century Australia and starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. Bosley Crowther, then film critic of The New York Times, termed Mr. Wilding's performance “dashing and commanding.”

After 15 years of acting in Britain, on the stage and in movies, he appeared in more than a dozen American films. But his professional life was overshadowed by publicity over his private life when in 1952 he became the second husband of Miss Taylor. He wed the actress, who was then 19 years old, shortly after her divorce from Conrad Hilton Jr. The marriage ended in divorce five years later.

In England, Mr. Wilding starred in many films, including “Spring in Park Lane” and “Maytime in Mayfair,” both with Miss Neagle. He also appeared with Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich and Richard Todd in Mr. Hitchcock's “Stage Fright” (1950), playing a detective “breezingly,” The Times critic observed.

Returned to London Stage

In this country, Mr. Wilding starred with Greer Garson in “The Law and the Lady” (1951), a romantic melodrama; with Joan Crawford in “Torch Song” (1953), in which he portrayed her blind piano accompanist, and with Leslie Caron in “The Glass Slipper” (1955), the Cinderella saga, in which, Mr. Crowther said, he was “a proper Prince Charming,” particularly effective in a dream‐ballet sequence with the actress.

In 1957, Mr. Wilding returned to the London stage after an absence of 14 years, winning praise from critics after taking over Sir John Gielgud's role in Noël Coward's play “Nude With Violin.” Six years later, after appearing in several less‐than‐distinguished movies, he became a talent agent, developing film and television series projects.

Mr. Wilding was born on July 23, 1912, in Westcliff‐on‐Sea in Essex. He studied at Christ College in Horsham and briefly painted portraits and did commercial artwork in Brussels.

London Debut in 1935

He soon began acting, making his London debut in 1935, touring with Fay Compton in Australia and New Zealand, playing leading roles in such plays as “Victoria Regina” and “Tonight at 8:30” and entertaining British servicemen overseas during World War II.

His film credits included “Convoy” (1941), “Kipps” (1942), “In Which We Serve” (1942), “An Ideal Husband” (1948), “Man in the Dinghy” (1951), “Kathy's Lave Affair” (1952), “Trent's Last Case” (1953), “The Egyptian” (1954), “The Scarlet Coat” (1955), “Zarak” (1956), “Breakout” (1960), “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960) and “Naked Edge” (1961).

On television, Mr. Wilding starred with Merle Oberon in a 1955 adaptation of Noël Coward's classic play “Cavalcade.”

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One of Elizabeth Taylor's many husbands (NT).Monday, July 08, 01:55:29pm

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