Maxwell Reed

Maxwell Reed (2 April 1919 – 31 October 1974)[1] was a Northern Irish actor who became a matinee idol in several British films during the 1940s and 1950s.[2][3]

Maxwell Reed
Actor Maxwell Reed.jpg
Autographed publicity still
Born(1919-04-02)2 April 1919
Died31 October 1974(1974-10-31) (aged 55)
London, England
Years active1946–1966
(m. 1952; div. 1956)


Early YearsEdit

Reed was born in Larne. He left school aged fifteen to work on ships, including as a blockade runner. He wanted to act and ended up studying at RADA for a year. During World War II he served in the RAF and then the Merchant Navy. After demobilisation he worked as an extra and in repertory. He did a screen test for Riverside Studios at Rank and joined The Company of Youth at the age of 27.[4][5]

Reed made his film debut in The Years Between (1946) and then appeared in Gaiety George (1946). In both he had unbilled roles.

Leading ManEdit

Producer Sydney Box thought Reed had star potential and promoted him to leading man status for Daybreak, a film noir which Box produced and co-wrote with his wife Muriel; Reed played an employee of Eric Portman who lusts after Portman's wife, played by Ann Todd. The film was made in 1946, but not released until 1948 due to censorship issues.[6]

Box cast Reed in the lead role in a film made immediately after but released before Daybreak: The Brothers (1947).[7]

Reed followed it with Dear Murderer (1947), from a script by Box, starring Portman, and then he made two films opposite Anne Crawford, Night Beat (1947), and Daughter of Darkness (1948). He had the lead in Streets Paved with Water which was abandoned during filming.

Reed had more of a support role in The Lost People (1949), co-diected by Muriel Box, and Madness of the Heart (1949), with Margaret Lockwood. He had the lead in Blackout (1950), opposite Dinah Sheridan.

Reed had a support role in The Clouded Yellow (1950) with Jean Simmons, then had the lead in some B pictures, The Dark Man (1950) and There Is Another Sun (1951). Reed said in June 1950 that "they tried to make me a star too soon."[8]

Reed moved to the U.S. to make Flame of Araby (1952). He returned to Britain for support parts in Sea Devils (1953) and The Square Ring (1953).

After making Captain Phantom (1953) in Italy, Reed starred in some British B movies, Marilyn (1953), Before I Wake (1955) and The Brain Machine (1956). He appeared in episodes of Theatre Royal had a small role in Helen of Troy (1956).


Reed moved to Hollywood permanently in the late 1950s and guest starred on TV shows like Celebrity Playhouse and The Betty Hutton Show. He landed the title role in the 1950s television series Captain David Grief, based on short stories by Jack London. It ran for two seasons in syndication, and was the first television series made on location in Hawaii; the first nine episodes were shot on Maui before production moved to southern California.[9]

Reed had support roles in films like The Notorious Landlady (1962) and appeared as a guest star in television series such as Bonanza, Kraft Mystery Theater, The Beachcomber, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Great Adventure, Perry Mason and Daniel Boone.[10][11]

His last feature film was Picture Mommy Dead (1966).

Personal lifeEdit

Reed was the first husband of actress Joan Collins, whom he married on 24 May 1952. He is reported to have raped Joan Collins when dating, but she married him out of shame. They were separated in 1954 and the marriage ended in divorce in 1956, after which Reed sued her for alimony.[12] Reed claimed in 1956 that he had earned only $1,000 over the previous 12 months.[13] He later withdrew this claim.[14]

He died from cancer in 1974, aged 55, in London.[15]


Year Title Role Notes
1946 The Years Between American UK, uncredited
1946 Gaiety George Prince (on stage) UK, uncredited
1947 Dear Murderer Jimmy Martin UK
1947 The Brothers Fergus Macrae UK
1947 Night Beat Felix Fenton UK
1948 Daughter of Darkness Dan UK
1948 Daybreak Olaf UK
1949 The Lost People Peter UK
1949 Madness of the Heart Joseph Rondolet UK
1950 Blackout Chris Pelley UK
1950 The Clouded Yellow Hick UK
1951 The Dark Man The Dark Man UK
1951 There Is Another Sun Racer UK
1951 Flame of Araby Prince Medina US
1953 Sea Devils Rantaine US / UK
1953 The Square Ring Rick Martell UK
1953 Capitan Fantasma Don Inigo da Costa Italy
1953 Marilyn Tom Price UK
1955 The Brain Machine Frank Smith UK
1955 Before I Wake Michael Elder UK
1956 Helen of Troy Ajax US / Italy
1961 Pirates of Tortuga Fielding US, uncredited
1962 The Notorious Landlady Miles Hardwicke US
1966 Picture Mommy Dead Anthony Flagmore US

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Maxwell Reed". BFI. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  2. ^ Wintle, Angela. "Joan Collins: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  3. ^ Born: 2 April 1919, LarneDied: 31 October 1974. "Maxwell Reed | BFI". Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  4. ^ "The Forgotten Man: The Films of Maxwell Reed". 1 January 1970. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  5. ^ "THE DEVIL'S IN THE STRINGS". The Longreach Leader. 25 (1573). Queensland, Australia. 7 March 1947. p. 27. Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "THE LIFE STORY of Maxwell REED". Picture Show. 51 (1318). London. 28 June 1947. p. 12.
  7. ^ "BRITAIN MAKES A STAR..." The Argus (31, 277). Melbourne. 27 November 1946. p. 6 (Woman's Magazine). Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "The King Has Been Kept Waiting, Too". Truth (3151). Sydney. 18 June 1950. p. 44. Retrieved 30 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ McWhorter, A.J. (9 February 2014). "'Captain Grief' plied the airlong before 'Lost' or 'Five-0'". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Maxwell Reed movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography". AllMovie. 16 August 1974. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Maxwell Reed Guest". Los Angeles Times. 22 September 1965. p. D19.
  12. ^ "He wants alimony from her". The Argus. Melbourne. 3 March 1956. p. 2. Retrieved 18 June 2020 – via Trove.
  13. ^ "Seeks $1250 a Month in Separate Maintenance Suit Which Charges Desertion". Los Angeles Times. 2 March 1956. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Joan Collins Gets Divorce". New York Times. 30 May 1956. p. 13.
  15. ^ "Riddle of the Larne actor who Joan Collins claims drugged and raped her". Belfast Telegraph. 28 November 2014.