Wilfrid Hyde White
12 May 1903
|Died||6 May 1991 (aged 87)|
Woodland Hills, California, United States
|Resting place||Water Cemetery, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England|
(m. 1927; died 1946)
|Children||3; including Alex Hyde-White|
Wilfrid Hyde-White (12 May 1903 – 6 May 1991) was a British character actor of stage, film and television. He achieved international recognition for his role as Colonel Pickering in the film version of the musical My Fair Lady (1964).
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. 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."
He 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. 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). Two-Way Stretch (1960) displays the more roguish side to 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 My Fair Lady (1964).
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 playing one of the crew of the Starships Searchers primary characters Doctor Goodfellow. He continued to appear on Broadway, and earned a second Tony nomination for his performance in The Jockey Club Stakes.
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 ongoing UK tax problems meant that, unlike American actors Falk and Richard Basehart, and British actors appearing in the episode, Honor Blackman, Bernard Fox, John Fraser and Arthur Malet, he was unable to take part in location filming in the UK. His scenes as a butler were therefore filmed in California. 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.
On 17 December 1927, he married Blanche Hope Aitken, a Glamorganshire-born Welsh actress known professionally as Blanche Glynne (1893–1946), who was a decade his senior. The couple had one son. Blanche Glynne died in 1946, aged 53, 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.
Hyde-White had a reputation as a bon viveur, and in 1979 he was declared bankrupt by the Inland Revenue.
Hyde-White died from heart failure on 6 May 1991, six days before his 88th birthday, 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. His body was returned to the United Kingdom and buried in the family grave at Water Cemetery, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.
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.