Geoffrey Keen

Geoffrey Keen
Born (1916-08-21)21 August 1916
Wallingford, Berkshire, England, UK
Died 3 November 2005(2005-11-03) (aged 89)
Northwood, London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1943–1991
Spouse(s) Doris Groves (her death) 1 child
Children Mary Keen

Geoffrey Keen (21 August 1916 – 3 November 2005) was an English actor who appeared in supporting roles in many famous films.


Early life

Keen was born in Wallingford, Berkshire, England, the son of stage actor Malcolm Keen.[1] He was educated at Bristol Grammar School. He then joined the Little Repertory Theatre in Bristol for whom he made his stage debut in 1932. After a year in repertory he stayed for a year in Cannes before being accepted for a place at the London School of Economics. In a last minute change of mind, he entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he won the Bancroft Gold Medal after only one year. He had just joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1939 when the war started. Keen enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, though also managed to appear in an Army instructional film for Carol Reed.


Keen made his full film debut in 1946 in Riders of the New Forest but soon appeared in better known films for Reed such as: Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Third Man (1949). He quickly became one of the busiest character actors, typically doing five films a year. He also continued to perform on stage, for instance as Iachimo in Peter Hall's 1957 production of Cymbeline, and a sadistic Turkish General in Terence Rattigan's controversial Ross (1960).

Keen was cast mainly as establishment figures, including ministers, senior police officers and military figures, though he also appeared in working class roles in Chance of a Lifetime (1950) and Millions Like Us (1943). He often portrayed balding, cold-hearted, and sarcastic executives or lawyers. On television, he was one of the leads in BBC TV's long-running drama about the oil industry, The Troubleshooters, between 1965 and 1972.

On the big screen, he played the role of Frederick Gray, the Minister of Defence in six James Bond films between 1977 and 1987:

He also appeared in such notable films as The Spanish Gardener, Doctor Zhivago, Cromwell, and Born Free, as well as in numerous TV programmes. He even appeared in a leading role in the Hammer Horror Film Taste the Blood of Dracula that starred Christopher Lee, playing a rather sarcastic Victorian/Edwardian gentleman who is one of a circle of three seeking wicked pleasures who betray Dracula. In all, Keen had appeared in 100 films before he retired in 1991.



Personal life

Keen was married three times had one daughter, Mary and two grandchildren, Hetty and Flora. He died in 2005 in Northwood, Middlesex and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.


External links

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Law, Jonathan (2013). The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre. A&C Black. ISBN 9781408145913.
  2. "Charles Terry". Ancestry. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  3. Roy, Donald. "Neilson, Julia Emilie (1868–1957)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 7 January 2010
  4. 1 2 3 "Edward William Godwin". The Elmbridge Hundred. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
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