Born on 23rd of June 1915
Died in St Peter Port, Guernsey
Died on 6th of October 1973
Though his greatest role as Louis Mazzini in Kind Hearts and Coronets dominates Dennis Price’s CV, he was far from a one-hit-wonder, appearing in more than 150 film and TV parts, and gracing the stage in Britain and the USA.
Price was born in 1915 into an upper middle class family, his father a Brigadier-General who could afford to put his son through Radley and Worcester College Oxford . He worked with John Gielgud in The Oxford University Dramatic Society, became a protégé of Noel Coward , and appeared in very early BBC television dramas before WWII . In the war he served in the Royal Artillery before being wounded and invalided out in 1942, returning to the stage once rehabilitated.
Born to play urbane and aristocratic roles he was made for Kind Hearts and Coronets, where his suave portrayal of Louis – the serial killer of Alec Guinness ’s various D’Ascoyne characters – provides a chilly counterpoint to those more comic portrayals. In 1965 he was successful again as Jeeves in the BBC adaptation of Wodehouse ’s classic tales, co-starring with Ian Carmichael with whom he had appeared previously in I’m All Right Jack and School for Scoundrels.
His career, however, knew more lows than highs: he was in the panned The Bad Lord Byron; he attempted suicide in 1954; and at the end of his career appeared in trashy low-budget Spanish films often directed by Jesus Franco. In 1967 he was declared bankrupt, his wallet emptied by gambling and his health already ruined by drinking to fight the disappointment at his career’s decline and conflicted by his bisexuality – something which informed one of his best dramatic parts in the 1961 film Victim. He fell and broke his hip at home on Sark (originally his refuge from creditors), an accident that led to his death from heart failure days later on October 6 1973.
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