David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson
7 May 1917
|Died||24 June 2000 (aged 83)|
Westminster, London, England
Mary Lindsay Hiddingh
(m. 1943; died 1943)
|Service/||Royal Air Force|
|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson (7 May 1917 – 24 June 2000) was an English stage, film, and television actor and comedian. Having been described as both a leading man and a character actor, he is primarily remembered for his roles as authority figure George Banks in Mary Poppins, fraudulent magician Professor Emelius Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and as hapless antagonist Peter Thorndyke in The Love Bug. Tomlinson was posthumously inducted as a Disney Legend in 2002.
David Cecil McAlister Tomlinson was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 7 May 1917, the son of Florence Elizabeth Tomlinson (née Sinclair-Thomson) (1890–1986) and a well-respected London solicitor father, Clarence Samuel Tomlinson (1883–1978). He attended Tonbridge School and left to join the Grenadier Guards for 16 months. His father then secured him a job as a clerk at Shell Mex House.
His stage career grew from amateur stage productions to his 1940 film debut in Quiet Wedding. His career was interrupted when he entered Second World War service as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. During the war, he served as a flight instructor in Canada and appeared in three more films. His flying days continued after the war. On one occasion he crashed a Tiger Moth plane near his back garden after he lost consciousness while flying.
David Tomlinson played the role of George Banks, head of the Banks family, in the Disney film Mary Poppins (1964). Mary Poppins brought Tomlinson continued work with Disney, appearing in The Love Bug (1968) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Throughout the rest of Tomlinson's film career, he never steered far from comedies. His final acting appearance was in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), which was also the final film of Peter Sellers. Tomlinson retired from acting at age 63 to spend more time with his family. However, in 1992, at the age of 75, he appeared on the Wogan talk show along with Tommy Cockles.
Tomlinson was first married to Mary Lindsay Hiddingh, daughter of L. Seton Lindsay, the vice president of the New York Life Insurance Company. She had been widowed in 1941 when her husband, Major A. G. Hiddingh, was killed in action, leaving her to care for their two young sons. Tomlinson married Mary in September 1943, but on 2 December 1943, she killed herself and her two sons in a murder–suicide by jumping from a hotel in New York City.
Tomlinson's second wife was actress Audrey Freeman (born 12 November 1931), whom he married on 17 May 1953, and the couple remained together for 47 years until his death. They had four sons: David Jr., William, Henry, and James.
Tomlinson died peacefully in his sleep at King Edward VII's Hospital, Westminster, at 4 a.m. on 24 June 2000, after suffering a stroke. He was 83 years old. He was interred at his estate grounds in Mursley, Buckinghamshire. Tomlinson had joked that he wanted "actor of genius, irresistible to women" as an epitaph.