|Sir Dirk Bogarde|
Bogarde with Jane Birkin at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
|Born||Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde
28 March 1921
West Hampstead, London, England
|Died||8 May 1999
Chelsea, London, England
|dirkbogarde.co.uk (Dirk Bogarde Estate)|
Sir Dirk Bogarde (28 March 1921 – 8 May 1999) was an English actor and writer.
Initially a matinée idol in such films as Doctor in the House (1954) and other Rank Organisation pictures, Bogarde later acted in art-house films such as Death in Venice (1971). In a second career, Bogarde wrote seven best-selling volumes of memoirs, six novels and a volume of collected journalism, mainly from his articles in The Daily Telegraph.
Bogarde was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde in a nursing home at 12 Hemstal Road,West Hampstead, London, of mixed Flemish, Dutch and Scottish ancestry, and baptised on 30 October at St. Mary's Church, Kilburn. His father, Ulric van den Bogaerde (born in Perry Barr, Birmingham; 1892–1972), was the art editor of The Times and his mother, Margaret Niven (1898–1980), was a former actress. He attended University College School, the former Allan Glen's School in Glasgow (a time he described in his autobiography as unhappy, although others have disputed his account) and later studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. He began his acting career on stage in 1939, shortly before the start of World War II.
Bogarde served in World War II, being commissioned into the Queen's Royal Regiment in 1943. He reached the rank of captain and served in both the European and Pacific theatres, principally as an intelligence officer. Taylor Downing's book "Spies in the Sky" tells of his work with a specialist unit interpreting aerial photo-reconnaissance information, before moving to Normandy with Canadian forces. Bogarde claimed to have been one of the first Allied officers in April 1945 to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, an experience that had the most profound effect on him and about which he found it difficult to speak for many years afterward. As John Carey has summed up with regard to John Coldstream's authorised biography however, "it is virtually impossible that he (Bogarde) saw Belsen or any other camp. Things he overheard or read seem to have entered his imagination and been mistaken for lived experience." Coldstream's analysis seems to conclude that this was indeed the case. Nonetheless, the horror and revulsion at the cruelty and inhumanity that he claimed to have witnessed still left him with a deep-seated hostility towards Germany; in the late-1980s he wrote that he would disembark from a lift rather than ride with a German of his generation. Nevertheless, three of his more memorable film roles were as Germans, one of them as a former SS officer in The Night Porter.
He was most vocal, towards the end of his life, on the issue of voluntary euthanasia, of which he became a staunch proponent after witnessing the protracted death of his lifelong partner and manager Anthony Forwood (the former husband of actress Glynis Johns) in 1988. He gave an interview to John Hofsess, London executive director of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society:
My views were formulated as a 24-year-old officer in Normandy ... On one occasion the jeep ahead hit a mine ... Next thing I knew, there was this chap in the long grass beside me. A bloody bundle, shrapnel-ripped, legless, one arm only. The one arm reached out to me, white eyeballs wide, unseeing, in the bloody mask that had been a face. A gurgling voice said, "Help. Kill me." With shaking hands I reached for my small pouch to load my revolver ... I had to look for my bullets—by which time somebody else had already taken care of him. I heard the shot. I still remember that gurgling sound. A voice pleading for death ....
During the war I saw more wounded men being "taken care of" than I saw being rescued. Because sometimes you were too far from a dressing station, sometimes you couldn't get them out. And they were pumping blood or whatever; they were in such a wreck, the only thing to do was to shoot them. And they were, so don't think they weren't. That hardens you: You get used to the fact that it can happen. And that it is the only sensible thing to do.
His London West End theatre-acting debut was in 1939, with the stage name 'Derek Bogaerde', in J. B. Priestley's play Cornelius. After the war his agent renamed him 'Dirk Bogarde' and his good looks helped him begin a career as a film actor, contracted to The Rank Organisation under the wing of the prolific independent film producer Betty Box, who produced most of his early films and was instrumental in creating his matinée idol image.
During the 1950s, Bogarde came to prominence playing a hoodlum who shoots and kills a police constable in The Blue Lamp (1950) co-starring Jack Warner and Bernard Lee; a handsome artist who comes to rescue of Jean Simmons during the World's Fair in Paris in So Long at the Fair, a film noir thriller; an accidental murderer who befriends a young boy played by Jon Whiteley in Hunted (aka The Stranger in Between) (1952); in Appointment in London (1953) as a young wing commander in Bomber Command who, against orders, opts to fly his 90th mission with his men in a major air offensive against the Germans; an unjustly imprisoned man who regains hope in clearing his name when he learns his sweetheart, Mai Zetterling, is still alive in Desperate Moment (1953); Doctor in the House (1954), as a medical student, in a film that made Bogarde one of the most popular British stars of the 1950s, and co-starring Kenneth More, Donald Sinden and James Robertson Justice as their crabby mentor; The Sleeping Tiger (1954), playing a neurotic criminal with co-star Alexis Smith, and Bogarde's first film for American expatriate director Joseph Losey; Doctor at Sea (1955), co-starring Brigitte Bardot in one of her first film roles; as a returning colonial who fights the Mau-Mau with Virginia McKenna and Donald Sinden in Simba (1955); Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), as a man who marries women for money and then murders them; The Spanish Gardener (1956), co-starring Michael Hordern, Jon Whiteley, and Cyril Cusack; Doctor at Large (1957), again with Donald Sinden, another entry in the Doctor film series, co-starring later Bond-girl Shirley Eaton; the Powell and Pressburger production Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) co-starring Marius Goring as the German General Kreipe, kidnapped on Crete by Patrick "Paddy" Leigh Fermor (Bogarde) and a fellow band of adventurers based on W. Stanley Moss' real-life account of the WW2 caper; A Tale of Two Cities (1958), a faithful retelling of Charles Dickens' classic; as a flight lieutenant in the Far East who falls in love with a beautiful Japanese teacher Yoko Tani in The Wind Cannot Read (1958); The Doctor's Dilemma (1959), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw and co-starring Leslie Caron and Robert Morley; and Libel (1959), playing three separate roles and co-starring Olivia de Havilland.
After leaving the Rank Organisation in the early 1960s, Bogarde abandoned his heart-throb image for more challenging parts, such as barrister Melville Farr in Victim (1961), directed by Basil Dearden; decadent valet Hugo Barrett in The Servant (1963), which garnered him a BAFTA Award, directed by Joseph Losey and written by Harold Pinter; The Mind Benders (1963), a film ahead of its times in which Bogarde plays an Oxford professor conducting sensory deprivation experiments at Oxford University (precursor to Altered States (1980)); the anti-war film King & Country (1964), playing an army lawyer reluctantly defending deserter Tom Courtenay, directed by Joseph Losey; a television broadcaster-writer Robert Gold in Darling (1965), for which Bogarde won a second BAFTA Award, directed by John Schlesinger; Stephen, a bored Oxford University professor, in Losey's Accident, (1967) also written by Pinter; Our Mother's House (1967), an off-beat film-noir directed by Jack Clayton in which Bogarde plays an n'er do well father who descends upon "his" seven children on the death of their mother, British entry at the Venice Film Festival; German industrialist Frederick Bruckmann in Luchino Visconti's La Caduta degli dei, The Damned (1969) co-starring Ingrid Thulin; as ex-Nazi, Max Aldorfer, in the chilling and controversial Il Portiere di notte, The Night Porter (1974), co-starring Charlotte Rampling, directed by Liliana Cavani; and most notably, as Gustav von Aschenbach in Morte a Venezia, Death in Venice (1971), also directed by Visconti; as Claude, the lawyer son of a dying, drunken writer (John Gielgud) in the well-received, multi-dimensional French film Providence (1977), directed by Alain Resnais; as industrialist Hermann Hermann who descends into madness in Despair (1978) directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder; and as Daddy in Bertrand Tavernier's Daddy Nostalgie, (aka These Foolish Things) (1991), co-starring Jane Birkin as his daughter, Bogarde's final film role.
In some of his other roles during the 1960s and 1970s, Bogarde played opposite renowned stars, yet several of the films were of uneven quality, down to demands or limitations set by the studio or their scripts: The Angel Wore Red (1960), playing an unfrocked priest who falls in love with cabaret entertainer Ava Gardner during the Spanish Civil War; Song Without End (1960), as Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt, a flawed film made under the initial direction of Charles Vidor (who died during shooting), and completed by Bogarde's friend George Cukor, the actor's only disappointing foray into Hollywood; the campy The Singer Not the Song (1961), as a Mexican bandit co-starring John Mills as a priest; H.M.S. Defiant (aka Damn the Defiant!) (1962), playing sadistic Lieutenant Scott-Padget, co-starring Sir Alec Guinness; I Could Go On Singing (1963), co-starring Judy Garland in her final screen role; Hot Enough for June, (aka "Agent 8¾") (1964), a James Bond-type spy spoof co-starring Robert Morley; Modesty Blaise (1966), a campy spy send-up playing archvillain Gabriel opposite Monica Vitti and Terence Stamp and directed by Joseph Losey; The Fixer (1968), based on Bernard Malamud's novel, co-starring Alan Bates; Sebastian (1968), as Sebastian, a mathematician working on code decryption, who falls in love with Susannah York, a decrypter in the all-female decoding office he heads for British Intelligence, also co-starring Sir John Gielgud, and Lilli Palmer, co-produced by Michael Powell; Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), co-starring Sir John Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier and directed by Richard Attenborough; Justine (1969), directed by George Cukor; Le Serpent (1973), co-starring Henry Fonda and Yul Brynner; A Bridge Too Far (1977), in a controversial performance as Lieutenant General Frederick "Boy" Browning, also starring Sean Connery and an all-star cast and again directed by Richard Attenborough.
While under contract with the Rank Organisation, Bogarde was set to play the role of T.E. Lawrence in a proposed film Lawrence to be directed by Anthony Asquith. On the eve of production, after one year of preparation by Bogarde and Asquith, the film was scrapped without full explanation to the dismay of Bogarde and Asquith. The abrupt scrapping of Lawrence, a role long researched and keenly anticipated by Bogarde, was among his greatest screen disappointments. Bogarde was also reportedly considered for the title role in MGM's Doctor Zhivago (1965). Earlier, he declined Louis Jourdan's role as Gaston in MGM's Gigi (1958).
In addition, in 1961 Bogarde was offered the chance to play Hamlet at the recently founded Chichester Festival Theatre by artistic director Sir Laurence Olivier, however he had to decline due to film commitments. Bogarde later said that he regretted declining Olivier's offer and with it the chance to "really learn my craft".
Honours and awards
Bogarde was nominated six times as Best Actor by BAFTA, winning twice, for The Servant in 1963, and for Darling in 1965. He also received the London Film Critics Circle Lifetime Award in 1991. He made a total of 63 films between 1939 and 1991. In 1983, he received a Special Award for service to the Cinema at the Cannes Festival and in 1984, he served as President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. Awarded the British Film Institute Fellowship in 1987, the following year in 1988, Bogarde was honoured with the first BAFTA Tribute Award for an outstanding contribution to cinema in 1988.
He was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Bachelor in the United Kingdom in 1992, awarded the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1990, an honorary Doctorate of Literature on 4 July 1985 by St. Andrews University in Scotland and an honorary Doctorate of Letters in 1993 by the University of Sussex in England.
Later career and personal life
In 1977, Bogarde embarked on his second career as an author. Starting with a first volume A Postillion Struck by Lightning (an allusion to the phrase My postillion has been struck by lightning), he wrote a series of 15 best-selling memoirs, novels, essays, reviews, poetry, and collected journalism. As a writer Bogarde displayed a witty, elegant, highly literate and thoughtful style.
Bogarde was a lifelong bachelor and, during his life, was assumed to be homosexual. Bogarde's most serious friendship with a woman was with the French actress Capucine. For many years he shared his homes, first in Amersham and then in France, with his manager Anthony Forwood (a former husband of actress Glynis Johns and the father of their only child, actor Gareth Forwood (dec.)), but repeatedly denied that their relationship was anything but platonic. Such denials were understandable, mainly given that homosexual acts were illegal during most of his career, subject to imprisonment and against the conditions for termination specified in Rank Studio contracts with its actors, thus potentially putting his career as a major actor at jeopardy, which few actors of the time would risk.
It was possible that Bogarde's refusal to enter into a marriage of convenience was a major reason for his failure to become a star in Hollywood, together with the critical and commercial failure of Song Without End. His friend Helena Bonham Carter believed Bogarde would not have been able to come out as gay during later life, since this might have too unambiguously demonstrated that he had been forced to camouflage his real sexual orientation during his film career. The actor John Fraser however said that "Dirk's life with Forwood had been so respectable, their love for each other so profound and so enduring, it would have been a glorious day for the pursuit of understanding and the promotion of tolerance if he had screwed up the courage..."
Bogarde starred in the film Victim (1961), playing a homosexual London barrister who fights the blackmailers of a young man with whom he has had an emotional relationship. The young man commits suicide after being arrested for embezzlement, rather than ruin his friend's reputation. In exposing the ring of extortionists, Bogarde's character risks his career and marriage in order to see that justice is done. Victim was the first mainstream British film to treat homosexuality convincingly and it had some effect upon a contemporary Sexual Offences Act 1967, a change in English law which decriminalized consensual homosexual acts.
Bogarde claimed he had known General Browning from his time on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff during the war and took issue with the largely negative portrayal of the General that he played in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far. General "Boy" Browning's widow, the author Daphne du Maurier, ferociously attacked his characterisation and "the resultant establishment fallout, much of it homophobic, wrongly convinced [Bogarde] that the newly ennobled Sir Richard [Attenborough] had deliberately contrived to scupper his own chance of a knighthood." He was however knighted in 1992 for services to acting.
He was also a shareholder in Pressdram Ltd, the company that owned the satirical magazine Private Eye. Upon his death his shares passed to Brock van der Bogaerde.
In 1984, Bogarde served as president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. He was the first Briton to serve in this capacity.
Bogarde suffered a minor stroke in November 1987, at a time when his partner, Anthony Forwood, was dying of liver cancer and Parkinson's disease. In September 1996, he underwent angioplasty to unblock arteries leading to his heart and suffered a massive stroke following the operation. Bogarde was paralyzed on one side of his body, which affected his speech and left him in a wheelchair. He managed, however, to complete a final volume of his autobiography, which covered the stroke and its effects as well as an edition of his collected journalism, mainly for The Daily Telegraph. He spent some time the day before he died with his friend Lauren Bacall. Bogarde died in London from a heart attack on 8 May 1999, age 78. His ashes were scattered at his former estate in Grasse, Southern France.
Titles preceded by an asterisk (*) are films made for television.
British box office ranking
For several years British film exhibitors voted Bogarde one of the most popular local stars at the box office:
- 1953 - 5th
- 1954 - 2nd (9th most popular international star)
- 1955 - 1st (also most popular international star)
- 1956 - 3rd
- 1957 - 1st (also most popular international star)
- 1958 - 2nd (also 2nd most popular international star)
- 1959 - 5th
- 1960 - 9th most popular international star
- 1961 - 8th most popular international star
- 1963 - 9th most popular international star
Autobiographies and memoirs
- A Postillion Struck by Lightning, 1977
- Snakes and Ladders, 1978
- An Orderly Man, 1983
- Backcloth, 1986
- A Particular Friendship, 1989
- Great Meadow, 1992
- A Short Walk from Harrods, 1993
- Cleared for Take-Off, 1995
- For the Time Being: Collected Journalism, 1998
- Dirk Bogarde: The Complete Autobiography (contains the first four autobiographies only)
- A Gentle Occupation, 1980
- Voices in the Garden, 1981
- West of Sunset, 1984
- Jericho, 1991
- A Period of Adjustment, 1994
- Closing Ranks, 1997
- Lyrics for Lovers (London Records, 1960)
Works about Bogarde
- The Films of Dirk Bogarde by Margaret Hinxman & Susan d'Arcy, 1974
- Dirk Bogarde: The Complete Career Illustrated with Robert Tanitch, 1988.
- Dirk Bogarde, Rank Outsider, by Sheridan Morley, 1996.
- Dirk Bogarde, The Authorised Biography, by John Coldstream, 2004.
- Ever, Dirk: The Bogarde Letters, by John Coldstream, 2008.
- Coldstream, John (2004). Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography. Weidenfeld & Nicolson(London). p. 24. ISBN 0-297-60730-8.
- Who's Who 1987
- Boztas, Senay (3 October 2004). "Bogarde's Schooldays 'Make-Believe'". Sunday Herald (via FindArticles). Accessed 18 November 2010.
- Carey, John (10 August 2008). "Ever, Dirk: The Bogarde Letters selected and edited by John Coldstream". The Sunday Times. p. 2.
- Coldstream, John (2005). Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography. Phoenix Books (London). pp. 20–21.
- Bogarde, Dirk (1988). "Out of the Shadows of Hell" in For the Time Being. Penguin (London).
- Morley, Sheridan (1999). Dirk Bogarde: Rank Outsider. Bloomsbury (London) (second edition). ISBN 978-0-7475-4698-6.
- Coldstream, John (2005). Dirk Bogarde. Phoenix Books. pp. 361–362.
- Bogarde, Dirk (1988). Snakes and Ladders. Penguin (Harmondsworth, Middlesex). p. 169. OCLC 441694311.
- Review by Mansel Stimpson of Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography, by John Coldstream
- Coldstream, John (2004). Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography.
- The Guardian "Sexy self-image that revved up Dirk Bogarde", 2 October 2004
- Entirely Up To You, Darling by Diana Hawkins & Richard Attenborough; page 152-3; paperback; Arrow Books; published 2009. isbn 978-0-099-50304-0
- Interview (17 June 2006). The Culture Show. BBC Two.
- David Shipman, The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, 1st ed, Angus & Robertson, 1972 pp. 56-59
- "John Wayne Heads Box-Office Poll.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 31 December 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "The Dam Busters", The Times [London, England] 29 December 1955: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 27 Dec. 1957: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "Mr. Guinness Heads Film Poll", The Times [London, England] 2 January 1959: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "Year Of Profitable British Films", The Times [London, England] 1 January 1960: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "Most Popular Films Of 1963", The Times [London, England] 3 January 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- Dirk Bogarde collection, 1957-1993 (4.5 linear feet) is housed at Boston University Dept. of Special Collections
- Harold Matson Company, Inc. Records, 1937-1980 (68 linear feet) are housed at the Columbia University Libraries. The Matson Co. was the literary agency with which Bogarde worked; the collection contains correspondence and other documents related to his literary career.
- dirkbogarde.co.uk Official website of the Dirk Bogarde Estate
- Dirk Bogarde at the Internet Movie Database
- Dirk Bogarde at the British Film Institute's Screenonline. Biography and credits
- Dirk Bogarde Fyne Times article
- Dirk Bogarde by Neil McNally
- Dirk Bogarde Dirk Bogarde at glbtq.com
- Telegraph.co.uk The letters of Dirk Bogarde Part 1 Part 2
- The Spectator Bryan Forbes reviews The letters of Dirk Bogarde
|Awards and achievements|
for Lawrence of Arabia
|BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
for The Servant
for Guns at Batasi & Séance on a Wet Afternoon
for Guns at Batasi & Seance on a Wet Afternoon
|BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold & Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?