Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

People We Like: Michael York

I had been meaning to do a new round on 'People We Like' to cover Peter Finch, Alan Bates, David Warner, Dame Flora Robson and Vera Miles, and I can start now with Michael York.

I have just been watching an absorbing interview with Michael York, part of that dvd set of interviews BRITISH LEGENDS OF STAGE & SCREEN, which our Sky Arts channel are showing as individual programmes. As mentioned earlier they include Glenda Jackson, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Christopher Lee, Diana Rigg, Claire Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen and York. Its a fascinating set of interviews for anyone interested in actors discussing their craft ...

York, like Terence Stamp (post below) was one of those new actors who fascinated us back in the '60s. He came along at just the right time in the mid-'60s at the heyday of international cinema and, like most attractive young actors who get the breaks, had 10 good years appearing in a wide range of films, large and small - the personable young stage actor with the broken nose was soon attracting the attention of movie-makers like Richardson, Losey, Zeffirelli .... Movies did not all have to open big then, but often built up word of mouth and hung around for a while in the revival houses and got written up about in the various film magazines. York too is a fascinating example of an actor getting older and continuing to work in smaller parts and keeping going while keeping his dignity. He also had some good theatre roles including HAMLET in 1970 and Tennessee Williams plays in New York.

I had a pleasant meeting with him 5 or 6 years ago when he was signing a new book of his at a Borders bookshop (now gone) in Oxford Street in London, where I was able to tell him I saw his HAMLET in 1970 at a theatre in Surrey, which I think pleased him. Michael of course worked with a lot of people I like since his first role in Zeffirelli's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW in 1966, with the Burtons and that nice ensemble of players, it was enjoyable seeing this again recently, so stunningly visual like Franco's 1968 ROMEO & JULIET where York was the volatile Mercutio (I had a poster on my then wall..). Before that he was the young aristocrat in Losey's ACCIDENT in 1967 .... which year also saw his mod photographer in the smashing swinging comedy I like a lot, as per other posts here, SMASHING TIME.
Michael and his photographer wife Patricia liked to travel a lot, as per his interesting autobiography...
1969 was a good year: to India for THE GURU for James Ivory, as the Viking chief in ALFRED THE GREAT shot in Ireland that summer for Clive Donner, with David Hemmings, and with Anouk Aimee and Dirk Bogarde in JUSTINE shot in Tunisia and Hollywood for Cukor .... then it was off to Germany for SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE (aka BLACK FLOWERS FOR THE BRIDE, gay interest label) that cult black comedy by Hal Prince, with Angela Lansbury, and later for CABARET, Bob Fosse's still intoxicating musical and ENGLAND MADE ME with Peter Finch - with whom York teamed up again for the disaster film LOST HORIZONS in '73!
That year he shot THE THREE (and then FOUR) MUSKETEERS in Spain for Richard Lester, where he was an amusing D'Artagnan with Oliver Reed, Heston, Christopher Lee and Faye Dunaway's wicked Milady ... and there was the all-star MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS in 1974, followed by LOGAN'S RUN.  Some duds were also in the mix: a royal prince in SEVEN NIGHTS IN JAPAN. I have now got his 1968 THE STRANGE AFFAIR to watch again, and a thriller with Genevieve Bujold: FINAL ASSIGNMENT. - he also of course played "himself" in Billy Wilder's fascinating FEDORA.
Alfred The Great

He continued to work throughout the '80s and '90s, with lots of television work as per his IMDB profile, has an interesting website, and several other projects, and of course those AUSTIN POWERS movies which I liked a lot. This new interview shows a more thoughtful side to him, at 70, and I liked his advice for young actors, not to be afraid to fail. He seemed fine when I met him in 2005 or 2006, but perhaps has been unwell recently. One certainly wishes him well and a full recovery.

PS: York in an interview in today's paper, 7th December, to promote the dvd BRITISH LEGENDS OF STAGE & SCREEN lists his Top 5 movies as: BRIEF ENCOUNTER, HENRY V, DR NO, ANONYMOUS and his own ENGLAND MADE ME!

[Previous 'People We Like' here include, as per labels, David Hemmings, Stewart Granger, Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Belinda Lee, Michael Craig, Stanley Baker, Mary Astor, Anne Baxter, Capucine, Kay Kendall, Joan Greenwood, Jeffrey Hunter and all those posts on Dirk Bogarde, Anouk Aimee, Romy Schneider, Sophia Loren, Monica Vitti, Lee Remick, Susan Hayward, Alida Valli, Ingrid Thulin, Silvana Mangano, Francoise Dorleac, Jean Sorel, Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Belmondo, Jack Hawkins, Glynis Johns, Margaret Leighton, Ann Todd etc.]


  1. That DVD sounds amazing but unfortunately I don't think its available in the states, at least not yet anyway. Most exciting is that it includes Glenda Jackson I didn't think she spoke about her acting career any longer and focused completely on politics.

  2. Yes it has a good interview with Jackson, they must have been recorded this year, and she goes into details of all her main movies. The Claire Bloom one is marvellous too, lots of clips, and she mentions her long relationship with Burton in some detail, good to see Christopher Lee get attentiont too. York is very good on his career but looks and sounds quite frail here, perhaps he has been ill lately.

  3. I had seen a recent interview with Michael York and was shocked at how washed out and ill he seemed. I hadn't heard that he had been sick so it was doubly surprising since up to then he had always seemed very collected and reserved but robust. I'm not always the biggest fan of Claire Bloom but the entire program sounds so great nothing will probably dampen my enjoyment of it if I can scrounge up a copy.
    I also have to say that if that picture of Glenda Jackson on the cover isn't too airbrushed she looks wonderful.

  4. love that cabaret better every time i see it

  5. in the arts i believe you cannot get more out of it than is put into it

  6. Michael York was Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1968)
    John McEnery was Mercutio

    I've always loved Michael York, hope he's not ill.