A distinguished stage and screen actor Lyndon Brook was the son of the silent film star Clive Brook and the actress Mildred Evelyn. His elder sister Faith Brook is one of Britain’s best known stage and TV actresses.
Brook was best known to cinemagoers of the of the fifties and sixties for his quiet sympathetic roles in films such as The Purple Plain (1954) and Reach For The Sky (1956) and he was also a successful writer of dramas and light comedies.
Born on April 10, 1926 in Los Angeles where his father worked for much of his career he was educated in England at Stowe and Cambridge. At Cambridge he founded his own drama group in which he both acted and directed.
He began appearing on the West End stage in the forties in a variety of character and leading roles before gaining wider recognition in the cinema during the fifties. One of his most memorable roles was as Johnny Sanderson in Reach For The Sky, the biographical drama based on the life of RAF hero Douglas Bader. Brook also narrated the film which went on to become one of the cinema’s most successful Second World War dramas.
In 1951 he met his future wife, the actress Elizabeth Kentish, while appearing in Lairence Olivier and Vivien Leigh’s alternating productions of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra and George Bernard Shaw’s Caeser and Cleopatra (St James’s Theatre, London).
Later film appearances included leading roles in Innocent Sinners (1958), Song Without End (1960), in which he played Wagner to Dirk Bogarde’s Liszt, The Hireling (1973), Plenty and Defence of the Realm (both 1985).
He made numerous television appearances in programmes such as The Avengers and The Professionals but one of his most memorable roles was as King George VI in Churchill and the Generals (1979). His most successful play was the comedy Mixed Doubles which was staged at the Comedy, London in 1969. The play has been staged all over the world and is a favourite with amateurs.
He died on January 9, 2004, aged 77. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Alec McCowen writes:
I first met Lyndon on top of a bus in 1950. We were on our way to the first rehearsal of The Voysey Inheritance directed by John Fernald. It was to be done at the Cambridge Festival and then tour to Malvern and Bournemouth. We became friends. He was always wonderfully abrasive, and very good fun.
A year after that tour, I did an audition for Laurence Olivier for the Cleopatra company to go to New York. I did not think that I had got the job but a week later the phone rang and a voice said: “This is Laurence Olivier, and we’d like you to come to America.”
I assumed it was Lyndon doing one of his impersonations. I laughed and said insincerely “Oh yes!” But the voice went on: “This is Laurence Olivier and we’d like you to play the messenger in Anthony and walk-ons in Caesar.” And it was Olivier. Lyndon was already in the company playing Eros. Also in the company was the actress Elizabeth Kentish. They were in love and eventually got an apartment in Brooklyn. Later, in London, I was a witness at their wedding. It was a splendid marriage and they had two dear daughters, Tracy and Leora.
We used to go to the Wednesday matinee at The Palladium and see the American singers and comics. We used to go and see James Cagney gangster movies and Joan Crawford weepies. Often we ate at the old Buckstone Club.
Lyndon could be extremely rude – yet one forgave him. He had the American habit of affectionate insults. Many unlikely people loved him as he was a totally original man.
He was a fine actor: a fine writer; and a good friend. We will miss him. Love to his wife,his daughters and his sister, Faith.
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