Jack Gwillim

Jack William Frederick Gwillim (15 December 1909 – 2 July 2001) was an English character actor.

Jack Gwillim
Born(1909-12-15)15 December 1909
Canterbury, Kent, England
Died2 July 2001(2001-07-02) (aged 91) [1][2]
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Burial placeAlbany Rural Cemetery[3]
Years active1953–2001
Spouse(s)Peggy Ballard (1943–1958) (her death) 2 children
Olivia Selby (1969–2001) (his death) 1 child
ChildrenJaxon Duff Gwillim
Sarah-Jane Gwillim
David Gwillim


Born in Canterbury, Kent, England, he served in the Royal Navy for over twenty years, attaining the rank of Commander.[4] During his time in the Navy, he became a champion boxer and rugby player, and when he was discharged he was one of the youngest men ever to obtain the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy.[5] After training at Central School of Speech and Drama, Gwillim began his acting career in earnest in the 1950s, working on both stage and screen.[4] On stage, he appeared both at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford and at the Old Vic.[6] He performed in an extensive amount of theatre, both classics and modern plays, in the West End of London and on Broadway.[5][7]

Some of his most notable roles include: playing in Sir Ralph Richardson's production of The Merchant of Venice; The Right Honourable Gentleman with lifelong friend Anthony Quayle; a revival of My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison, playing Colonel Pickering; John Gielgud's The Constant Wife, with Ingrid Bergman; and The Iceman Cometh, with James Earl Jones.[5][7]

Gwillim also featured in over fifty films and television series, usually war films or historical epics.[4] His military background, commanding presence and deep, booming voice typecast him as soldiers and authority figures.[4] Some of his most notable roles include playing a warship captain in Sink the Bismarck! (1960), the archbishop Hubert Walter in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), the obnoxious club secretary in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), King Aeëtes in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), an RAF officer in the James Bond film Thunderball (1965), the Lord Chief Justice in A Man for All Seasons (1966), General Harold Alexander in Patton (1970), Poseidon in Clash of the Titans (1981), and Van Helsing in The Monster Squad (1987).[8] He also had a recurring role on the TV series Danger Man, The Saint, and The Troubleshooters.[9][10]

He took part in a number of recordings for Caedmon Shakespeare Records.[11][12][13]

Personal lifeEdit

Gwillim was twice married: to Peggy Bollard, until 1958, and Olivia Selby, from 1969 until his death. He had two children from his first marriage, Sarah-Jane Gwillim and David Gwillim, and a third, Jaxon Duff Gwillim, from his second marriage. His children also became actors, and he acted onstage with them in 1995 in a production of On Borrowed Time, which was his last on stage performance.[4]


He died in Los Angeles, California on 2 July 2001 at the age of 91.[1]



  1. ^ a b "Jack Gwillim; Actor, 91". The New York Times. Associated Press. 9 July 2001.
  2. ^ "Jack Gwillim; Actor Performed in Film, on British, U.S. Stages". Los Angeles Times. 7 July 2001.
  3. ^ Sec. 15, lot 136, Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany, NY., Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 19113-19114). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Jack Gwillim". The Daily Telegraph. 28 August 2001.
  5. ^ a b c Shorter, Eric (2 August 2001). "Obituary: Jack Gwillim". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Jack Gwillim | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  7. ^ a b "Jack Gwillim – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". ibdb.com.
  8. ^ "Jack Gwillim". BFI.
  9. ^ "Jack Gwillim". aveleyman.com.
  10. ^ "The Troubleshooters: The Day the Sea Caught Fire". 29 March 1968. p. 56 – via BBC Genome.
  11. ^ "Antony and Cleopatra · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk.
  12. ^ "Macbeth · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk.
  13. ^ "Midsummer Night's Dream, A · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk.

External linksEdit