Stewart Granger

Birth Date:
Death date:
Set cemetery

Stewart Granger (6 May 1913 – 16 August 1993) was a British film actor, mainly associated with heroic and romantic leading roles. He was a popular leading man from the 1940s to the early 1960s, rising to fame through his appearances in the Gainsborough melodramas.

Early life

He was born James Lablache Stewart in Old Brompton Road, west London, the only son of Major James Stewart, OBE and his wife Frederica Eliza (née Lablache). Granger was educated at Epsom College and the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He was the great-great-grandson of the opera singer Luigi Lablache and the grandson of the actor Luigi Lablache. When he became an actor, he was advised to change his name in order to avoid being confused with the American actor James Stewart. (Granger was his Scottish grandmother's maiden name.) Offscreen friends and colleagues continued to call him Jimmy for the rest of his life, but to the general public he became Stewart Granger.


He made his film debut as an extra in 1933. It was at this time that he met Michael Wilding and they remained friends until Wilding's death in 1979. Years of theatre work followed, initially at Hull Repertory Theatre and then, after a pay dispute, at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Here he met Elspeth March, a leading actress with the company, who became his first wife.

At the outbreak of World War II Granger enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders, then transferred to the Black Watch with the rank of second lieutenant. However he suffered from stomach ulcers and he was invalided out of the army in 1942.

Early Stardom

His first starring film role was as the acid-tongued Rokeby in the Gainsborough Pictures period melodrama The Man in Grey (1943), a film that helped to make him a huge star in Britain. He followed this with the even more popular Fanny By Gaslight (1944). The New York Times reported that Granger "is a young man worth watching. The customers... like his dark looks and his dash; he puts them in mind, they say of Cary Grant."

He was cast in some prestige films, Caesar and Cleopatra and Waterloo Road, then in Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) which the critic Leslie Halliwell called "novelettish balderdash killed stone dead by stilted production". All these films were successful at the box office (although Caesar and Cleopatra never recouped its large cost) and in 1945 the Times reported that "this six-foot black-visaged ex-soldier from the Black Watch is England's Number One pin up boy. Only Bing Crosby can match him for popularity."

Granger followed this with Caravan and then The Magic Bow in which he played Niccolò Paganini. In 1945 he was voted the second-most popular British film star, and the ninth-most popular overall. The following year he was voted the third-most popular British star, and the sixth-most popular overall.

He went over to Rank for whom he made Captain Boycott, Blanche Fury and then Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948), an Ealing Studios production. The screenplay was by John Dighton and Alexander Mackendrick, who would later direct The Ladykillers (1955) and Sweet Smell of Success. Granger was cast as the outsider, the handsome gambler who is perceived as 'not quite the ticket' by the established order, the Hanoverian court where the action is mostly set. Granger stated that this was one of his few films of which he was proud.

In 1949 Granger was reported as earning around £30,000 a year.

That year Granger made Adam and Evelyne, starring with Jean Simmons. The story, about a much older man and a teenager who he gradually realises is no longer a child but a young woman with mature emotions and sexuality had obvious parallels to Granger's and Simmons' own lives. Granger had first met the very young Jean Simmons when they both worked on Gabriel Pascal's Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). Three years on, Simmons had transformed from a promising newcomer into a star - and a very attractive young woman. They married the following year in a bizarre wedding ceremony organised by Howard Hughes - one of his private aircraft flew the couple to Tucson, Arizona, where they were married, mainly among strangers, with Michael Wilding as Granger's best man.

After Granger's stage production of Leo Tolstoy's The Power of Darkness (a venture he had intended to provide a vehicle for him to star with Jean Simmons) had been very poorly received when it opened in London at the Lyric Theatre on 25 April 1949. (During the run two men attempted to cut some locks from Granger's hair.) The disappointment, added to dissatisfaction with the Rank Organisation, led his thoughts to turn to Hollywood.


In 1949 Granger made his move; MGM was looking for someone to play H. Rider Haggard's hero Allan Quatermain in a film version of King Solomon's Mines. Errol Flynn was offered the role but turned it down; Granger's signing was announced in August 1949.

On the basis of the huge success of this film, released in 1950 and co-starring Deborah Kerr and Richard Carlson, he was offered a seven-year contract by MGM. Following two less successful assignments, Soldiers Three and The Light Touch, in 1952, he starred in Scaramouche in the role of Andre Moreau, the bastard son of a French nobleman, a part Ramón Novarro had played in the 1923 version of Rafael Sabatini's novel. Soon after this came the remake of The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), for which his theatrical voice, stature (6'2") and dignified profile made him a natural.

In 1952 he and Jean Simmons sued Howard Hughes for $250,000 damages arising from an alleged breach of contract. The case was settled out of court.

Granger lost out on A Star Is Born, which went to James Mason. In Moonfleet (1955), Granger was cast as an adventurer, Jeremy Fox, in the Dorset of 1757, a man who rules a gang of cut-throat smugglers with an iron fist until he is softened by a 10-year-old boy who worships him and who believes only the best of him. The film was directed by Fritz Lang and produced by John Houseman, a former associate of Orson Welles. Footsteps in the Fog was the third and final film Granger and Jean Simmons made together - Simmons played a Cockney housemaid who finds that her adventurer employer (Granger) has poisoned his rich wife in order to inherit her wealth. Bhowani Junction (1956), was adapted from a John Masters novel about colonial India on the verge of obtaining independence. Ava Gardner played an Anglo-Indian (mixed race) woman caught between the two worlds of the British and the Indians, and Granger the British officer with whom (in a change from the novel) she ultimately fell in love. His films The Little Hut (1957), a coy sex comedy, and Gun Glory (1957), a Western story of redemption, both bombed. North to Alaska with John Wayne, 'a brawling comedy western', was the last Hollywood film Granger made. Granger had turned down the role of Messala in the 1959 film Ben-Hur, reportedly because he did not want to take second billing to Charlton Heston.

Granger had become a successful cattle rancher but he left Hollywood in the wake of the breakup of his second marriage to Simmons.

International career

In Germany, Granger acted in the role of Old Surehand in three Western films adapted from novels by German author Karl May, with French actor Pierre Brice (playing the fictional Indian chief Winnetou), in Unter Geiern (Frontier Hellcat) (1964), Der Ölprinz (Rampage at Apache Wells) (1965) and Old Surehand (Flaming Frontier) (1965). He was united with Pierre Brice and Lex Barker, also a hero of Karl May films, in Gern hab' ich die Frauen gekillt (Killer's Carnival) (1966). In the German Edgar Wallace film series of the 1960s, he was seen in The Trygon Factor (1966). He later estimated that he made more than $1.5 million in the 1960s but lost all of it.

He subsequently replaced actor Lee J. Cobb, Charles Bickford and John McIntire on NBC's The Virginian as the new owner of the Shiloh ranch on prime-time TV for its ninth year (1971).

He appeared in The Wild Geese (1978) as an unscrupulous banker, who hires a unit of mercenary soldiers (Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris and others) to stage a military coup in an African nation. His character then makes a deal with the existing government, and betrays the mercenaries.


In the 1970s Granger retired from acting and went to live in southern Spain, where he invested in real estate. He returned to acting in 1981 with the publication of his autobiography, claiming he was bored. Granger spent the last decade of his life appearing on television (including portraying Sherlock Holmes in an American TV movie version of The Hound of the Baskervilles with William Shatner also in the cast, and a guest role in the ABC series The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors) and on the stage. He even starred in a German soap-opera called Das Erbe der Guldenburgs (The Guldenburg Heritage) (1987).

One of his last roles was in the 1989–90 Broadway production of The Circle by W. Somerset Maugham, opposite Glynis Johns and Rex Harrison in Harrison's final role. The production actually opened at Duke University for a three-week run, followed by performances in Baltimore and Boston before opening on 14 November 1989 on Broadway.

Personal life

He was married three times:

  • Elspeth March (1938–1948); two children, Jamie and Lindsay
  • Jean Simmons (1950–1960), (with whom he had starred in Adam and Evelyne, Young Bess and Footsteps in the Fog); one daughter, Tracy
  • Caroline LeCerf (1964–1969); one daughter, Samantha

Granger claimed in his autobiography that Deborah Kerr had approached him romantically in the back of his chauffeur-driven car at the time he was making Caesar and Cleopatra. Although at the time he was married to Elspeth March, he states that he and Kerr went on to have an affair. When asked about this revelation, Kerr's response was, "What a gallant man he is."

In 1956 Granger became a naturalised citizen of the United States.

He died in Santa Monica, California from prostate and bone cancer at the age of 80.

His niece is Antiques Roadshow appraiser Bunny Campione, the daughter of his sister, Iris.


In 1970 Granger said "Stewart Granger was quite a successful film star, but I don't think he was an actor's actor."

Among the films that Granger was announced to star in, but that ended up being made with other actors, were Ivanhoe (1952), Mogambo (1953), The King's Thief (1955) and Man of the West (1958).


  • A Southern Maid (1933)
  • Give Her a Ring (1934)
  • Over the Garden Wall (1934)
  • I Spy (1934)
  • Under Secret Orders (1937)
  • So This Is London (1939)
  • Convoy (1940)
  • Secret Mission (1942), with James Mason
  • Thursday's Child (1943)
  • The Man in Grey (1943)
  • The Lamp Still Burns (1943)
  • Love Story (1944)
  • Fanny by Gaslight (1944)
  • Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)
  • Waterloo Road (1945)
  • Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
  • Caravan (1946)
  • The Magic Bow (1946)
  • Captain Boycott (1947)
  • Blanche Fury (1948)
  • Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
  • Woman Hater (1948)
  • Adam and Evelyne (1949)
  • King Solomon's Mines (1950)
  • Soldiers Three (1951)
  • The Wild North (1952)
  • The Light Touch (1952)
  • Scaramouche (1952)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)
  • Salome (1953)
  • Young Bess (1953)
  • All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953)
  • Beau Brummell (1954)
  • Green Fire (1954)
  • Moonfleet (1955)
  • Footsteps in the Fog (1956)
  • The Last Hunt (1956)
  • Bhowani Junction (1956)
  • The Little Hut (1957)
  • Gun Glory (1957)
  • The Whole Truth (1958),
  • Harry Black (1958)
  • North to Alaska (1960)
  • The Secret Partner (1961)
  • Marcia o Crepa (The Legion's Last Patrol/Commando (1964 film)) (1962)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (1962)
  • Swordsman of Siena (1962)
  • The Shortest Day (1963), comedic spoof of The Longest Day
  • The Secret Invasion (1964)
  • Among Vultures (1964)
  • The Crooked Road (1965)
  • Das Geheimnis der drei Dschunken (1965)
  • Der Ölprinz (1965)
  • Flaming Frontier (1965)
  • Killer's Carnival (1966)
  • Target for Killing (1966)
  • The Trygon Factor (1966)
  • Requiem for a Secret Agent (1966)
  • The Last Safari (1967)
  • Any Second Now (1969) (TV)
  • The Virginian (1970–71) (TV series)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972) (TV) as Sherlock Holmes
  • The Wild Geese (1978)
  • Murder, She Wrote TV episode Paint Me a Murder (1985)
  • Hell Hunters (1986)
  • Fine Gold (1989)
  • Gabriel's Fire (1991) - episode
Box office ranking

At the peak of his career, exhibitors voted Granger among the top stars at the box office:

  • 1945 - 9th biggest star in Britain (2nd most popular British star)
  • 1946 - 6th biggest star in Britain (3rd most popular British star)
  • 1947 - 5th most popular British star in Britain
  • 1948 - 5th most popular British star in Britain.
  • 1949 - 7th most popular British star in Britain.
  • 1951 - most popular star in Britain according to Kinematograph Weekly
  • 1952 - 19th most popular star in the US
  • 1953 - 21st most popular star in the US and 8th most popular in Britain

=Unmade Films

  • in 1944 it was reported Granger's ambition was to play Rob Roy - J. Arthur Rank announced he was interested in a Rob Roy project in 1945 but it was never made
  • Digger's Republic for Leslie Arliss as Stafford Parker (1946) - this became Diamond City with David Farrar in the role instead
  • Self-Made Man (1947) from a script by Alan Campbell about a cocky type who comes out of the RAF and makes and loses a million dollars
  • Christopher Columbus in the title role (1947) - film was eventually made with Fredric March
  • Pursuit of Love for producer Davis Lewis at Enterprise Studios (1947)
  • Treacher (1947) produced by Nunally Johnson for Universal
  • The Saxon Charm (1947)
  • reported as testing for John Huston in Quo Vadis? (1949)
  • The House by the Sea based on book by Jon Godden, with Granger as producer (1949)
  • The Donnybrook Fighter (1952)
  • Robinson Crusoe (early 1950s)
  • Highland Fling (1957)
  • Ever the Twain (1958)

Select Theatre Credits

  • The Courageous Sex by Mary D. Sheridan - Birmingham, May 1937
  • The Millionairess by George Bernard Shaw - Malvern Festival, July 1937 - with Elspeth March
  • The Apple Cart - Malvern Festival, August 1937 - with Elspeth March
  • Victoria, Queen and Empress - Birmingham Repertory, September 1937 - as Gladstone
  • The Sun Never Sets - Drury Lane Theatre, London, 1938
  • Serena Blandish - 1938 - with Vivien Leigh
  • Romeo and Juliet - Buxton Festival, September 1939 - with Robert Donat and Constance Cummings, as Tybalt
  • The Good Natured Man by Oliver Goldsmith - Buxton Festival, September 1939 - with Robert Donat and Constance Cummings
  • Autumn - with Flora Robson
  • House in the Square - St Martins Theatre, London, April 1940
  • To Dream Again - Theatre Royal, August 1942
  • Rebecca
  • wartime tour of Gaslight with Deborah Kerr
  • The Power of Darkness adapted from by Peter Glenville from the story by Leo Tolstoy - March-April 1949 - with Jean Simmons
  • The Circle - 1989 - with Rex Harrison and Glynis Johns

Select Radio Performance

  • Continuous Performance - the Film - BBC, December 1946

Source: wikipedia.org

No places


        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        1Jean  SimmonsJean SimmonsWife31.01.192922.01.2010
        2Mae  WestMae WestCoworker17.08.189322.11.1980
        3Thelma LeedsThelma LeedsCoworker18.12.191027.05.2006
        4Kaye BallardKaye BallardCoworker20.11.192521.01.2019
        5Pierre BricePierre BriceCoworker06.02.192906.06.2015
        6Karin DorKarin DorCoworker22.02.193806.11.2017
        7Rick VallinRick VallinCoworker24.09.191931.08.1977
        8Lex BarkerLex BarkerCoworker08.05.191911.05.1973
        9Sam ZimbalistSam ZimbalistCoworker31.03.190404.11.1958
        10Sergio SollimaSergio SollimaCoworker17.04.192101.07.2015
        11Michael RennieMichael RennieCoworker25.08.190910.06.1971
        12Nita BieberNita BieberFamiliar18.07.192604.02.2019
        13Richard DawsonRichard DawsonFamiliar20.11.193202.06.2012
        14Frank SinatraFrank SinatraFamiliar12.12.191514.05.1998

        No events set