Renowned British classical stage star Tony Britton was born in Birmingham, England, the son of Edward Leslie and Doris (Jones) Britton in 1924. He took his first professional curtain call at age 18 in "Quiet Weekend" with a company in Weston-Super-Mare just before joining the Army in November of 1942. Serving with the Royal Artillery for 4 1/2 years, he eventually returned to the theater after the war, at first in the capacity of an assistant stage manager at the Manchester Library Theatre. While there he progressed to lead actor, then made his London debut in "The Rising Wind" at the Embassy Theatre.
Tony began elevating his name in repertory at Edinburgh and the Bristol Old Vic during the 1951 season, but major attention came after being cast as Rameses in Christopher Fry's "The Firstborn" at London's Winter Garden Theatre in 1952. This success led to the leading role and excellent critical notices in "The Player King" later that year at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Glen Byam Shaw, director of the Memorial Theatre, witnessed this performance and invited him join his company. He remained there for two seasons playing Bassiano opposite Peggy Ashcroft in "The Merchant of Venice," as well as essaying the roles of Cassio in "Othello", Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" and Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", among others.
Other London stage roles came with "The Night of the Ball" opposite Wendy Hiller andGladys Cooper, and "Gigi" starring Leslie Caron. At the Old Vic he played Trigorin in "The Seagull" and Hotspur in "Henry IV" before settling in for an over two-year run as Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady". He would return to this part more than once over a decade later.
A renaissance man of the theatre, Tony didn't pursue film roles with equal zest, yet his infrequent offerings reliably enhanced any project he was involved in. The highlights of his 20 or so movies include both lead and supporting parts in The Birthday Present(1957) (co-starring Sylvia Syms, Behind the Mask (1958) with Michael Redgrave, The Risk (1960) opposite Virginia Maskell, Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and The Day of the Jackal (1973); his last film to date was released decades ago -- Agatha (1979) starringDustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave.
On TV Tony has portrayed assorted men of distinction -- lords, sirs, captains ,and the like in TV movies. He lightened up considerably in his numerous comedy series, including the popular Robin's Nest (1977) and Don't Wait Up (1983), both which ran for several seasons. He has contributed his mellifluous voice to books on tape as well. Divorced from Ruth Hawkins, who bore him two children, he has since been married to Eve Birkefeldt. His three children -- classical actor Jasper Britton, writer Cherry Britton, and correspondent Fern Britton -- have all been involved one way or another in the entertainment field.