• 7 January 1903
  •  Birmingham, England, UK

Alan Napier


Alan Napier was born on January 7, 1903 in King Norton, Worcestershire, England. Tall, distinguished-looking English character actor with aristocratic bearing and precisely modulated voice. A cousin of the former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and spent his formative years as an actor with Oxford Repertory and, from 1924, on the London stage. During the 1930s, he found his niche in Shakespearean roles. His characterisation of Menenius in a 1954 Boston revival of "Coriolanus" was described in the Christian Science Monitor (January 23, 1954) as imbued with "benevolent distinction and with some of the comic quality of the part". However, by that time, Napier had largely forsaken the stage for the screen. In 1939, Alan Napier immigrated to America and, in the course of nearly five decades, appeared in film and on television as noblemen, manservants and doctors. His gaunt, suave, sometimes bespectacled characters could be kindly or nefarious. He gave good support in the supernatural thriller The Uninvited (1944) and lent gravitas to his role of Cicero in Julius Caesar (1953). However, he is best remembered as the ever reliable, and very English, butler Alfred Pennyworth on Batman (1966), starring Adam West. Napier's second wife, Aileen Dickens Bouchier Hawksley (nicknamed "Gypsy"), was a great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Alan Napier died at age 85 of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California on August 8, 1988.