Finlay Currie

William Finlay Currie[1] (20 January 1878 – 9 May 1968) was a Scottish actor of stage, screen, and television.[2][3] He received great acclaim for his roles as Abel Magwitch in the British film Great Expectations (1946) and as Balthazar in the American film Ben-Hur (1959).[4][5]

Finlay Currie
Finlay Currie Ivanhoe trailer (1952).jpg
Trailer for Ivanhoe (1952)
William Finlay Currie

(1878-01-20)20 January 1878
Died9 May 1968(1968-05-09) (aged 90)
Resting placeBreakspear Crematorium, Ruislip, London, England
Years active1898–1968
Maude Courtney
(m. 1905; died 1959)

In his career spanning 70 years, Currie appeared in seven films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, of which Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959) were winners.[6][7]


Currie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.[1] He attended George Watson's College and worked as organist and choir director.[4] In 1898 he got his first job in Benjamin Fuller's theatre group, and appeared with them for almost 10 years.[8]

After emigrating to the United States in the late 1890s, Currie and his wife, Maude Courtney, did a song-and-dance act on the stage.[4] He made his first film , The Old Man, in 1931.[3] He appeared as a priest in the 1943 Ealing Second World War film Undercover (1943).[9] His most famous film role was the convict, Abel Magwitch, in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946).[8] He also earned praise for his portrayal of Queen Victoria's highland attendant John Brown in The Mudlark (1950).[1]

In the following years he appeared in Hollywood film epics, including such roles as Saint Peter in Quo Vadis (1951), as Balthazar, one of the Three Magi, in the multi-Oscar-winning Ben-Hur (1959); the Pope in Francis of Assisi (1961); and an aged, wise senator in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). He appeared in People Will Talk with Cary Grant; and portrayed Robert Taylor's embittered father, Sir Cedric, in MGM's Technicolor version of Ivanhoe (1952).[3] But Ivanhoe also gave Currie one of his most delightful roles, highlighting his comic capabilities, as well as a willingness to still do some action scenes, even in his 70s. In 1962, he starred in an episode of NBC's The DuPont Show of the Week, The Ordeal of Dr. Shannon, an adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel, Shannon's Way.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in February 1963, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre in London.[citation needed]

In 1966, Currie played Mr. Lundie, the minister, in the television adaptation of the musical Brigadoon.[10] His last performance was for the television series The Saint which starred Roger Moore. Currie played a dying mafioso boss in the two-part episode "Vendetta for the Saint", which was shown posthumously in 1969.[11]

Late in life, he became a much respected antiques dealer, specialising in coins and precious metals. He was also a longtime collector of the works of Robert Burns.[1]

Personal life and deathEdit

Currie was married to American actress Maude Courtney.[1][4] They had two children, George and Marion.[1]

Currie died on 9 May 1968 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire at age 90.[3] His ashes were scattered in Breakspear Crematorium, Ruislip, Middlesex.[12]

Complete filmographyEdit

Partial television creditsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Currie, (William) Finlay (1878–1968)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55968. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ McFarlane, Brian (28 February 2014). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. pp. 175-176; ISBN 9781526111968
  3. ^ a b c d "Finlay Currie". BFI. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "BFI Screenonline: Currie, Finlay (1878–1968) Biography".
  5. ^ "Ben-Hur (1959) – William Wyler – Review". AllMovie.
  6. ^ "1957: Around the World in 80 Days | The Oscars, from Wings to Spotlight: the 88 films to win Best Picture - Film". 24 February 2017. Archived from the original on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  7. ^ "1960: Ben-Hur | The Oscars, from Wings to Spotlight: the 88 films to win Best Picture - Film". 24 February 2017. Archived from the original on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Finlay Currie – Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  9. ^ "Undercover (1943) – Sergei Nolbandov – Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  10. ^ "Brigadoon (1966)". BFI.
  11. ^ "Finlay Currie – Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  12. ^ "Finlay Currie (1878-1968) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2 August 2021.

External linksEdit