Patric Knowles

Reginald Lawrence Knowles (11 November 1911 – 23 December 1995) was an English film actor who renamed himself Patric Knowles. Born in Horsforth, West Riding of Yorkshire, he made his film debut in 1932, and played either first or second film leads throughout his career. He appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Patric Knowles
Patric Knowles.jpg
Reginald Lawrence Knowles

(1911-11-11)11 November 1911
Died23 December 1995(1995-12-23) (aged 84)
Years active1932–1973
Spouse(s)Enid Percival (1935–1995; his death) 2 children: Michael Knowles (born 5/11/1938), Antonia Knowles (12/7/1942)
Parent(s)Lawrence Knowles, Nellie Knowles[1]

Life and careerEdit

Early lifeEdit

On 11 November 1911, Reginald Lawrence Knowles was born in Milton College, Horsforth.[2] His father, Lawrence Knowles, aged 22, was an accountant clerk; his mother, Nellie, aged 19, was a dressmaker. The couple had only been married for under a year at the time of Knowles birth. He also had two brothers, Phillip and William Knowles.[citation needed]

From the age of 14, Knowles left school and was being groomed to take his place alongside other relatives in the family bookbinding business in Leeds.[citation needed] However, Knowles was persistent in following his dreams as an actor and ran away from home at the age of 14, but was brought back. He ran away again in later years, which proved to be more successful.

British Acting CareerEdit

Knowles began his acting career with the British sound films early in 1932, calling himself Patric Knowles. He made his film debut in Men of Tomorrow (1932), produced by Alexander Korda.

He later joined the repertory group of the Playhouse Theater in Oxford and began touring with various companies and was involved in some seasons in regional theater, being featured in 14 British films, including The Poisoned Diamond (1933), directed by W. P. Kellino; Norah O'Neale (1934), directed by Brian Desmond Hurst; Regal Cavalcade (1935); and The Girl in the Crowd (1935), directed by Michael Powell.

He had the male lead in The Student's Romance (1935) with Grete Natzler and Honours Easy (1935) with Greta Nissen and was in Abdul the Damned (1935), Mister Hobo (1935) with George Arliss, Wrath of Jealousy (1936), and Two's Company (1936).[3]

During the same time, Knowles met Gladys Enid Percival, an actress and homemaker, and married the 23 year old on 3 October 1935.[4]

After a few tours Knowles went to London and appeared in "By Appointment" in 1936, where he was spotted by Irving Asher of Warner Bros. and got a Hollywood contract for more than 2 years.[5] He had the lead in his final British films, The Brown Wallet (1936), directed by Powell; Fair Exchange (1936),directed by Ralph Ince; and Crown v. Stevens (1936), directed by Powell.[6]

Warner BrosEdit

In 1936 he arrived in New York alongside his wife and appeared in his first American film, Give Me Your Heart (1936) with Kay Francis, released in Great Britain as Sweet Aloes, Knowles was cast as a titled Englishman of means.

In 1939 and at the age of 27, Knowles moved to his new residence with his wife in Tarzana, Los Angeles, California, USA. During his free time Knowles became a licensed private pilot in the late 1930s.

His second film for Warners was The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), where he played the younger brother of Errol Flynn, who was loved by Olivia de Havilland.[7] Knowles returned to England to make Irish for Luck (1936), and then supported Bette Davis in It's Love I'm After (1937).

Knowles was top billed in some B pictures at Warners, Expensive Husbands (1937) and The Patient in Room 18 (1938). He was reteamed with Flynn and De Havilland in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), playing Will Scarlett, and Four's a Crowd (1938). He supported Flynn and Davis in The Sisters (1938).[8]

Republic borrowed Knowles to play the lead in Storm Over Bengal (1938).[9]

At Warners he had support roles in two B pictures, Heart of the North (1938) and Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939), then he left the studio.


Knowles signed a contract at RKO, for whom he made Beauty for the Asking (1939) with Lucille Ball; Five Came Back (1939) also with Ball, directed by John Farrow; and The Spellbinder (1939).

He went to MGM for Another Thin Man (1939) and Fox for The Honeymoon's Over (1939) then went back to RKO for two more with John Farrow, Married and in Love (1940) and A Bill of Divorcement (1940), then Anne of Windy Poplars (1941), playing Gilbert Blythe.

In 1940 a limerick circulated about Knowles: How pleasant to know Patric Knowles/ Who is the kindest of souls/ But being handsome and a British swell/ Nobody expects him to act very well/ Which is why he never gets good roles.[10]

World War IIEdit

In 1940 Knowles left Hollywood and travelled to Canada to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He had hundreds of hours of flying experience but an eye ailment meant he became an instructor.[11]

At Fox he was in How Green Was My Valley (1941) for John Ford.[12]


Knowles went to Universal for a support part in The Wolf Man (1941). He went to Republic for Women in War (1941) then was top billed in Universal's The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942), and Mystery of Marie Roget (1942) with Maria Montez.

He supported Irene Dunne in Lady in a Jam (1942), Constance Bennett in Sin Town (1942), Abbott and Costello in Who Done It? (1942) and Hit the Ice (1943), Ilona Massey in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Rosemary Lane in All by Myself (1943), The Andrews Sisters in Always a Bridesmaid (1943), Olsen and Johnson in Crazy House (1943), Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan in Chip Off the Old Block (1944) and This Is the Life (1944), and Gloria Jean in Pardon My Rhythm (1944).[13]

During this time he continued to serve as a flying instructor with the US Air Force.[12]


Knowles went to Paramount where he supported Paulette Goddard in Kitty (1945), Dorothy Lamour in Masquerade in Mexico (1945), Barbara Stanwyck in The Bride Wore Boots (1946), and Alan Ladd in O.S.S. (1946).[14]

He went to Warners for Of Human Bondage (1946) and Universal borrowed him to play Joan Fontaine's leading man in the thriller Ivy (1947).[15] He went back to Paramount for Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) with Bob Hope, Variety Girl (1947), Dream Girl (1948), and Isn't It Romantic? (1949).[16]

Knowles went to RKO for The Big Steal (1949), and Fox for Three Came Home (1950), second billed, playing Claudette Colbert's husband.[17]


Knowles began appearing on TV shows such as The Bigelow Theatre, Studio One in Hollywood, Lights Out, Hollywood Opening Night, Robert Montgomery Presents, The Revlon Mirror Theater, The United States Steel Hour, The Whistler, Studio 57, The Ford Television Theatre, and Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre.

He still appeared in features such as Quebec (1951), Mutiny (1952), Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952) (as the villain), Jamaica Run (1953), Flame of Calcutta (1953) for Sam Katzman (second billed to Denise Darcel), World for Ransom (1954), Khyber Patrol (1954) and No Man's Woman (1955).[18]

From the late 1950s Knowles became an almost exclusively television actor appearing in Star Stage, The 20th Century-Fox Hour, Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers , Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, Matinee Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse, The Millionaire, Lux Playhouse, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Wagon Train, General Electric Theater, 77 Sunset Strip, Tightrope, Maverick in episodes "The Wrecker" with Jack Kelly and "Guatemala City" with James Garner, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Klondike, The Jim Backus Show, Death Valley Days, The Islanders, Checkmate, Peter Gunn, Whispering Smith, Hawaiian Eye, Have Gun – Will Travel (as Phileas Fogg in the episode "Foggbound"), Gunsmoke, The Rogues, Mickey, and Jericho.

He had a small role in the feature Band of Angels (1957), From the Earth to the Moon (1958) and Auntie Mame (1958).

He wrote a novel, Even Steven (Vantage Press, 1960, ASIN B0006RMC2G).

Later careerEdit

Knowles' later appearances included The Way West (1967) for director Andrew McLaglen Family Affair, Garrison's Gorillas, The Devil's Brigade (1968) for McLaglen, In Enemy Country (1968), D.A.: Murder One (1969), Chisum (1970) with John Wayne for McLaglen as John Tunstall, Getting Together, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Man (1972), Terror in the Wax Museum (1973) and Arnold (1973).

Knowles was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Knowles died from a brain hemorrhage at West Hills Hospital in West Hills, California on 23 December 1995.[19]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Retrieved 8 May 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Yorkshire Evening Post. 27 January 1984. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "The Life Story of PATRIC KNOWLES". Picture Show. 40 (1, 039). London. 25 March 1939. p. 18.
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "YOUNG MEN WHO WERE "DISCOVERED" IN LONDON". The Sydney Morning Herald (30, 933). 23 February 1937. p. 9 (Women's Supplement). Retrieved 3 October 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin (9 March 1936). "Irvin Cobb, Film Future Secure, to Star in "Gentleman From Mississippi": Writer's Thespianic Adventure Proceeds Claude Rains and Charles Boyer Both Will Have Fling at Napoleon Interpretation; Choir Singer in "Stagestruck"". Los Angeles Times. p. 15.
  8. ^ More than two decades after Flynn's death, biographer Charles Higham accused Flynn of having been a fascist sympathizer and Nazi spy. Knowles, who had served in World War II as a flying instructor in the Royal Canadian Air Force, came to Flynn's defense, writing Rebuttal for a Friend as an epilogue to Tony Thomas' Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was (Citadel Press, 1990) ISBN 0-8065-1180-X.
  9. ^ "FILM FLASHES". The Broadcaster. 17 August 1939. p. 2. Retrieved 3 October 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Bergan, Ronald (2 January 1996). "Obituary: Patric Knowles Secondary panache". The Guardian. p. 013.
  11. ^ "Sergeant-Pilot Pat Knowles Pays Visit to Hollywood: Actor on Leave From Training Post With Canadian Air Force". Los Angeles Times. 19 March 1941. p. 3.
  12. ^ a b "Patric Knowles; British Actor". Los Angeles Times. 27 December 1995. p. VYB5.
  13. ^ "Patric Knowles Has Schedule Of Farm Chores". The Washington Post. 13 December 1942. p. L3.
  14. ^ Shipman, David (30 December 1995). "obituaries: Patric Knowles:". The Independent (FINAL ed.). p. 14.
  15. ^ "MISS DURBIN TO DO 'FOR LOVE OF MARY': Actress Is Named for Comedy by Universal-International-- 'Central Park' Postponed Buchman Buys "Dark Page"". New York Times. 7 December 1946. p. 27.
  16. ^ "Patric Knowles Winds Up Tribute to St. Patrick in Jail". Los Angeles Times. 19 March 1947. p. 2.
  17. ^ Knowles, Patric (2 January 1996). "Secondary panache". The Guardian. p. 13.
  18. ^ Schallert, Edwin (27 May 1950). "Drama: Rooney Would Do Caddy Sleuth; Patric Knowles Plays Rebel in 'Quebec'". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
  19. ^ Associated Press (28 December 1995). "Patric Knowles, of 'Robin Hood' And 'Light Brigade,' Dies at 84". The New York Times.

Further readingEdit

  • Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Patric Knowles". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 137–139. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.

External linksEdit