Tuesday, July 17, 2007

He was an Extra-Ordinary Man

In this chatty, anecdotal look back at his career, the actor best-known for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady touches on personal aspects of his life only if they had an effect on his work, such as the poor career choices he made in an effort to keep busy after the death of Kay Kendall, his third wife. A devoted fan of Shaw and the naturalistic school of acting, Harrison, who died this past June at the age of 82, derides Method, which he calls "the scratch and grunt school of acting," and notes that his major roles have all been of "self-centered types." Many of his stories make the reader laugh aloud, such as his disastrous attempt at Shakespeare, the filming of Dr. Doolittle ("The animals behaved well in almost all respects. It was the animal trainers who should have been shot") and the joy of working on My Fair Lady ("I began to discover that putting a musical together is riveting"), particularly as he developed the "sing/speak" style of singing that marked the role of Higgins. Harrison's enthusiasm and wry observations make this an endearing commentary on acting in general and his career in particular

Title: A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy
Author: Rex Harrison
Published: January 1, 1991
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages: 288
Genre: Autobiography

In his autobiography A Damned Serious Business; Rex Harrison talks about his life in theater and film as well as his acting technique. It’s really more of a running commentary of Harrison’s life told in his own words. You may notice a few inconsistencies in the book because Rex was still putting the final touches on the book when he died June 2, 1990.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only because Rex Harrison was a wonderful actor but also because I adore most of his movies. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see him perform on stage because he died when I was only 4 but I bet it was a truly remarkable thing to see. Now that I’ve finished his autobiography I plan on watching as many of his movies as I can get my hands on (I only have two) so look for the reviews soon.

Rex Harrison Accepting Award:

Ordinary Man from My Fair Lady:

Source: Interlibrary Loan, hardcover

Related Reviews
Rex Harrison
Night Train to Munich- Gus Bennett/ Dickie Randall (1940)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)- Captain Daniel Gregg
Cleopatra (1963)- Julius Caesar
My Fair Lady (1964)- Professor Henry Higgins
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)- Pope Julius II
Doctor Dolittle (1967)- Dr. John Dolittle
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)- Grand Duke Cyril Romanov
Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan

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