Lionel Jeffries – Veteran Character Actor

Lionel Jeffries

Lionel Jeffries

Jeffries had a dislike of television

Lionel Jeffries was an English character actor. He was known for his bald head and bushy mustache. This allowed him to play much older roles. During his career Lionel Jeffries played a nice line of English eccentrics.

Lionel Jeffries was born in London in 1926. During World War II he was an officer in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Following the war, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. This lead to a two-year stint with a repertory company followed by work in English television.

Lionel Jeffries had a successful career in English films mainly in comic character roles but he also had dramatic roles such as in Bhowani Junction (1956) with Ava Gardner. In the 1960s he began to get lead roles in films such as Two-Way Stretch (1960), The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960), First Men in the Moon (1964) and Camelot (1967). However Jefferies continued his drama roles in films such as Dunkirk (1958), horror such as The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), and adventure such as The Long Ships (1964).

His early baldness lead to some interesting roles like playing the father of Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). In reality, Jeffries was six months younger than Van Dyke.

[Tweet “Jeffries had a dislike of television”] and he avoided it for many years. In the 1980s he moved to television. Jeffries stopped acting in 2001 and died on 19 February 2010 in a nursing home in Poole, Dorset.

Selected Films

The Black Rider (1954) Martin Bremner

The Colditz Story (1955) Harry Tyler

Bhowani Junction (1956) Lt. Graham McDaniel

Lust for Life (1956) Dr. Peyron

1957Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s Joe Mangan

1957Decision Against Time Keith

1957Hour of Decision Elvin Main

1958Behind the Mask Walter Froy

1958Dunkirk Colonel – Medical Officer

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) Fritz

1960Life Is a Circus Genie

1960Tarzan the Magnificent Ames

1960The Trials of Oscar Wilde John Sholto Douglas, Marquis of Queensberry

1963Call Me Bwana Ezra

1963The Crimson Blade Col. Judd

First Men in the Moon (1964) Joseph Cavor

The Long Ships (1964) Aziz

1965The Secret of My Success Insp. Hobart / Baron von Lukenberg / The Earl of Aldershot

1965You Must Be Joking! Sgt. Maj. McGregor

1966The Spy with a Cold Nose Stanley Farquhar

1967Camelot King Pellinore

1967Those Fantastic Flying Fools Sir Charles Dillworthy

1968Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Grandpa Potts

1972Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? Inspector Ralph Willoughby

1979The Prisoner of Zenda General Sapt

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