Wilfrid Hyde-White
Hyde-White in Ada (1961)
Wilfrid Hyde White

12 May 1903
Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England
Died6 May 1991(1991-05-06) (aged 87)
Resting placeWater Cemetery, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1934–1983
Blanche Glynne
(m. 1927; died 1946)
Ethel Drew
(m. 1957)
Children3; including Alex

Wilfrid Hyde-White (née Hyde White; 12 May 1903 – 6 May 1991) was an English actor. Described by Philip French as a "classic British film archetype", Hyde-White often portrayed droll and urbane upper-class characters.[1] He had an extensive stage and screen career in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and portrayed over 160 film and television roles between 1935 and 1987.[2][3] He was twice nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, in 1957 for The Reluctant Debutante and in 1973 for The Jockey Club Stakes.[4]

Early life

Wilfrid Hyde White was born in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, England in 1903 to the Rev. William Edward White, canon of Gloucester Cathedral, and his wife, Ethel Adelaide (née Drought). He was the nephew of actor J. Fisher White.[5] He attended Marlborough College and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, of which he said, "I learned two things at RADA – I can't act and it doesn't matter."[6]


Hyde-White made his stage debut in the farcical play Tons of Money on the Isle of Wight in 1922 and appeared in the West End for the first time three years later in the play Beggar on Horseback.[3] He then gained steady work on the stage in a series of comedies produced at the Aldwych Theatre in London. He joined a tour of South Africa in 1932 before making his film debut in Josser on the Farm (1934) where he was credited as "Wilfrid Hyde White" (without the hyphen). He also appeared in some earlier films as plain "Hyde White". He later added the hyphen, as well as his first name.

Following a supporting role in The Third Man (1949), he became a fixture in British films of the 1950s. His other films of this period include Carry On Nurse (1959) and the Danny Kaye film On the Double (1961).[3] Two-Way Stretch (1960) displays a more roguish side than some of the characters he played in this period. He continued to act on the stage and played opposite Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in the repertory performance of Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra in 1951. He also appeared on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1956 for his role in The Reluctant Debutante. His first Hollywood appearance came alongside Marilyn Monroe in the film Let's Make Love (1960), followed by other films, including his best-known screen role as Col. Hugh Pickering in My Fair Lady (1964).[3]

Between 1962 and 1965, Hyde-White starred in the BBC radio comedy The Men from the Ministry. In the 1970s and 1980s, he featured on the Battlestar Galactica pilot episode "Saga of a Star World" and The Associates. He was a series regular on the revamped second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Doctor Goodfellow. He continued to appear on Broadway, and earned a second Tony nomination for his performance in The Jockey Club Stakes.[3]

He appeared in two episodes of the mystery series Columbo, starring Peter Falk as the rumpled detective. Although the first, "Dagger of the Mind" (1972), was set in Britain and concerned Columbo paying a visit to Scotland Yard, Hyde-White's UK tax problems meant that he was unable to take part in location filming in the UK. His scenes as a butler were therefore filmed in California.[citation needed] His second appearance on Columbo was in the episode "Last Salute to the Commodore" in 1976.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1976 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Goodwood Racecourse.[citation needed]

Personal life

On 17 December 1927, Hyde-White married Blanche Hope Aitken, a Glamorgan-born British actress known professionally as Blanche Glynne (1893–1946),[7] who was a decade his senior. The couple had one son. Blanche Glynne died in 1946, aged 53,[8] and in 1957 Hyde-White married actress Ethel Drew. He and Drew remained married until his death in 1991. The couple had two children, including actor Alex Hyde-White.[citation needed]

Hyde-White had a long reputation as a bon viveur, gambled heavily and spent money recklessly. In 1979, he was declared bankrupt by the Inland Revenue.[3]


Hyde-White died from heart failure on 6 May 1991 at the age of 87, at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, having lived in the United States for 25 years as a tax exile.[5]


Complete films

Partial television credits


Hyde-White appeared in numerous plays, such as The Jockey Club Stakes, at first in London's West End in 1970, starring alongside Viviane Ventura, then on Broadway in 1973; he received a Tony award for "Best Actor in a Play" for the Broadway run.[9][10]


  1. ^ Blau, Eleanor (7 May 1991). "Wilfrid Hyde-White, 87, Actor Known for His Urbane Drollery". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Wilfrid Hyde White | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Wilfrid Hyde White". The Times. No. 64013. London. 8 May 1991. p. 16.
  4. ^ "Wilfred Hyde-White – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  5. ^ a b Julian Rollins (7 May 1991). "Gentleman of the stage dies at 87". The Times. No. 64012. London. p. 3.
  6. ^ Williams, Simon. "Wasn't he so lovely?". The Oldie. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  7. ^ 1893 year of birth per census records for Blanche Hope Aitken, Hyde-White's first wife
  8. ^ Blanche White (professional name Blanche Glynne) died in England, aged 53, in 1946, not 1948, as per England and Wales death records at findmypast.co.uk website: Registration District: Chard, County: Somerset, Year of Registration: 1946, Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun, Age at death: 53, Volume No: 5C, Page No: 340
  9. ^ "The Jockey Club Stakes (Broadway, Cort Theatre, 1973)". Playbill. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Production of The Jockey Club Stakes". Theatricalia. Retrieved 23 January 2022.