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Basil Sydney
Sidney in 1922
Born(1894-04-23)23 April 1894
St Osyth, Essex, England
Died10 January 1968(1968-01-10) (aged 73)
London, England
Years active1920–1964
Doris Keane
(m. 1918; div. 1925)

Mary Ellis
(m. 1929; div. 19??)
Joyce Howard
(m. 1946; div. 19??)

Basil Sydney (23 April 1894 – 10 January 1968) was an English stage and screen actor.


Basil Sydney and Doris Keane as Romeo and Juliet
Basil Sydney and Doris Keane as Romeo and Juliet

Sydney made his name in 1915 in the London stage hit Romance by Edward Sheldon, with Broadway star Doris Keane, and he costarred with Keane in the 1920 silent film of the play. The couple married in 1918, and when Keane revived Romance in New York City in 1921, Sydney made his Broadway debut in the parts. He stayed in New York for over a decade playing classical roles such as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (1922), Richard Dudgeon in The Devil's Disciple (1923), the title role in Hamlet (1923), Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part I (1926), and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew (1927).[citation needed] In 1937 he starred in the murder mystery Blondie White in the West End.

Trailer for Ivanhoe (1952)
Trailer for Ivanhoe (1952)

He made over 50 screen appearances, most memorably as Claudius in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film of Hamlet. He also appeared in classic films like Treasure Island (1950), Ivanhoe (1952), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), but the focus of his career was the stage on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1946 he starred with Flora Robson in A Man About the House at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Personal life

Sydney divorced Keane in 1925.[1] In 1929, he married actress Mary Ellis, and the couple moved to England.[2] There he concentrated more on film than on theatre work. In the 1940s, he married English film actress Joyce Howard;[3] they had three children.

A heavy smoker, Sydney died from pleurisy in 1968, aged 73.