George Coulouris

For his son, the computer scientist, see George Coulouris (computer scientist).
George Coulouris

Coulouris as Thatcher in Citizen Kane (1941)
Born George Alexander Coulouris
(1903-10-01)1 October 1903
Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Died 25 April 1989(1989-04-25) (aged 85)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–1985
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Donaldson (1977–1989) (his death)
Louise Franklin (1930–1976) (her death) 2 children
Children George Coulouris
Mary Louise Coulouris

George Coulouris (1 October 1903 – 25 April 1989) was an English film and stage actor.

Early life

Coulouris was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, the son of Abigail (née Redfern) and Nicholas Coulouris, a merchant[1] of Greek origin. He was brought up both in Manchester and nearby Urmston and was educated at Manchester Grammar School.[2] He attended London's Central School of Speech and Drama, in the company of fellow students Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft.

Early career

Marian Warring-Manley as Margery, Whitford Kane as Simon Eyre, and George Coulouris as the King in the Mercury Theatre production of The Shoemaker's Holiday (1938)
Harry Shannon, George Coulouris and Agnes Moorehead in Citizen Kane (1941)
The National Board of Review recognized both Orson Welles and George Coulouris for their performances in Citizen Kane (1941)

Coulouris made his stage debut in 1926 with Henry V at the Old Vic. By 1929 he made his first Broadway appearance, followed by his first Hollywood film role in 1933.

A major impact on his life was Orson Welles, whom he met in 1936 when they both had roles in the Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley's Ten Million Ghosts. Welles invited Coulouris to become a charter member of his Mercury Theatre, and in 1937 Coulouris performed the role of Mark Antony in the company's debut production, Caesar, an innovative modern-dress production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.[3]

"Even 'Friends, Romans, countrymen' sounds on his tongue as if it were a rabble-rousing harangue he is uttering for the first time," noted John Mason Brown in the New York Post.

In 1938 he appeared in the Mercury stage productions of The Shoemaker's Holiday and Heartbreak House,[4] and became part of the repertory company that presented CBS Radio's The Mercury Theatre on the Air and its sponsored continuation, The Campbell Playhouse (1938–40).

In Citizen Kane (1941), Coulouris played Walter Parks Thatcher, a financier similar to J. P. Morgan. Coulouris and Welles each received a 1941 National Board of Review Award for their performances.[5]

During the 1930s and 1940s Coulouris remained a regular figure on the stage and screen, starring in his own Broadway production of Richard III in 1943. His films in this period included For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Between Two Worlds (1944), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Watch on the Rhine (1943), in which he repeated the role he originated in the Broadway production.[6] He also gave a notable performance as Robert de Baudricourt, in the Technicolor spectacular, Joan of Arc (1948), starring Ingrid Bergman. While most of his performances are strong ones, usually as a heavy or villain, occasionally he could turn his serious characterizations into humorous ones. Thatcher in Citizen Kane is fussy and pompous at times. A better (if briefer) example was in Mr. Skeffington as Dr. Byles, planning to go on a well-deserved, long-delayed holiday only to find it delayed again by a selfish, impossible Fanny Skeffington (Bette Davis).

Coulouris was the first actor to star in the title role of the Bulldog Drummond programme on the Mutual Broadcasting System.[7]

Back in Britain

Coulouris returned to Britain after 1950, and appeared in more films, theatre and television productions. His stage work was the most well regarded and included the title role in King Lear at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre (1952); the lead (Dr. Stockmann) in An Enemy of the People (1959) at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge; Peter Flynn in Seán O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars at the Mermaid Theatre (1962); a part in August Strindberg's The Dance of Death; and Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1970).

Later film roles included parts in the Doctor in the House films, Papillon, Mahler and Murder on the Orient Express. During his life he played in over eighty films.

Radio roles were also numerous, and his television roles included parts in Danger Man and The Prisoner episode "Checkmate". Other notable appearances included the reoccurring role of science writer Harcourt Brown in the ABC serials, Pathfinders to Mars and Pathfinders to Venus, which were sequels to earlier serials; Target Luna and Pathfinders in Space. Doctor Who fans would recognise him as Arbitan in the Doctor Who serial The Keys of Marinus.

Personal life

Coulouris was married to Louise Franklin (1930–1976) and Elizabeth Donaldson (1977–1989) and was the father of computer scientist George Coulouris and artist Mary Louise Coulouris.


Coulouris died in London on 25 April 1989, of heart failure following Parkinson's disease.

Cultural references

In Me and Orson Welles (2008), Richard Linklater's period drama set in the days surrounding the premiere of the Mercury Theatre's production of Caesar, Coulouris is portrayed by Ben Chaplin.[8]

Broadway roles

George Coulouris's Broadway credits are listed at the Internet Broadway Database.[9]



Partial filmography


  1. George Coulouris Biography (1903-1989)
  2. "George Coulouris". 1989. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  3. Collins, Glenn, "George Coulouris, 85, Is Dead; Actor Relished Villainous Roles". The New York Times, 27 April 1989
  4. George Cououris, Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 12013-12-28.
  5. "Ten Best 1941". National Board of Review Magazine. Vol. XVII no. 1. National Board of Review. January 1942. p. 6. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  6. Watch on the Rhine at the Internet Broadway Database
  7. Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 123.
  8. McCarthy, Todd (6 September 2008). "Film Review: Me and Orson Welles". Variety. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  9. George Coulouris at the Internet Broadway Database
  10. 1 2 Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
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