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Terence Morgan

Leading British film and stage actor Terence Morgan made his screen debut as Laertes in Laurence Olivier’s Oscar winning Hamlet (1948), going on to star in films such as Raoul Walsh’s Captain Horatio Hornblower RN (1951) and playing the father of the deaf girl in the box office hit Mandy (1953).

He was best known to television viewers for playing the lead in the ITV series Sir Francis Drake (1961-62) opposite Jean Kent as Queen Elizabeth I.

Born in Lewisham, London on December 8, 1921 Terence Ivan Grant Morgan worked as a clerk at Lloyd’s of London before winning a scholarship to RADA. He made his first appearance at the Theatre Royal Windsor in The Astonished Ostrich and went on to appear in repertory. He served two years in the army before being invalided out suffering from claustrophobia.

He made his West End debut in Robert Sherwood’s play There Shall Be No Night and was spotted by Laurence Olivier, who cast him in his own production of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth (1945), opposite Olivier’s then wife, Vivien Leigh.

He joined Olivier’s Old Vic Company touring Australia in 1948 with The School for Scandal, The Skin of Our Teeth and Richard III and two years later he played Orsino in a BBC production of Twelfth Night.

Throughout the fifties and sixties Morgan was rarely off the British cinema screen playing a variety of leading roles including several villains. He starred in such films as Turn The Key Softly, Tread Softly Stranger and Dance, Little Lady and was one of the highest paid actors in the country. He was particularly memorable in Svengali (1954), opposite Sir Donald Wolfit, and in dramas such as The Shakedown (1959) and Picadilly Third Stop (1960).

The swashbuckling maritime adventures of the Elizabethan hero Sir Francis Drake brought him even wider fame on television in the sixties and the production was especially notable for its cast, which included a young Michael Crawford as well as Roger Delgado.

Morgan’s final feature film was The Lifetaker (1975). In 1986 he has a had a guest appearance in the TV series King and Castle. He eventually retired from acting and ran a hotel in Hove, Sussex for 16 years as well as becoming a property developer in Brighton.

He died from heart failure in Brighton on August 25, 2005, aged 83. He married Georgina Symondson in 1947. She and their daughter survive him.

Patrick Newley

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