- 19 March 1909
- Johannesburg, South Africa
From his birthplace in South Africa, Louis Charles Hayward was brought to England and was educated there and on the Continent. He spent a short time managing a London nightclub, displayed some acting talent and decided on acting, and was quickly tapped by playwright Noël Coward, who became his patron. Matinee-idol-handsome, Hayward developed his acting skills on the London stage in various versions of Broadway plays, such as "Dracula" and "Another Language". He began his film career in the British romance drama Self Made Lady (1932), which was followed by five British films through 1933. Hayward came to New York and Broadway in 1935 to star in "Point Verlaine". It was his only Broadway venture, but it brought him a Hollywood contract. His first American film role was in The Flame Within (1935). After several supporting roles in 1936, he got his real break starring in the extended romantic prologue of Warner Bros.' Anthony Adverse (1936). As dashing officer Denis Moore, he was Anthony's father, rescuing his soon-to-be mother Maria from an arranged marriage to the Marquis Don Luis, brilliantly played by Claude Rains. Shot with gauze focus in part to increase the dreamlike romantic interlude of the lovers, the prologue played to a bitter end with Hayward dispatched in a sword duel with the outraged Don Luis, and Maria, now pregnant, forced to return to her husband. However, Hayward had had his defining moment. He was now a romantic leading man, and a swashbuckler at that. Through the remainder of the 1930s he would have ample opportunities to vary that class of character, starting with some early "B"-tier efforts. His good looks were complemented by an airy manner of speaking, which worked as both hero and rogue or occasional suave villain. The familiar British Simon Templar character was brought to the screen by Hayward in The Saint in New York (1938) to cap his "B"-picture career. He was destined for plenty of sword point adventure. The stylish The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), the third volume in the Alexandre Dumas musketeer trilogy, gave Hayward the opportunity to play the good and evil royal twins, which he did with impressive flair. However, his swashbuckling efforts did not pan out as well as they did for Errol Flynn. The Son of Monte Cristo (1940), with Hayward paired with Joan Bennett again (as they were in "Iron Mask") was a The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) rip-off that fell flat. Another sort of bad break was his 1941 casting in a pivotal role in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), his part was edited out of the final print. World War II brought Hayward a respite from the vagaries of Hollywood luck. He was a United States Marine combat photographer, and his work during the invasion of the Japanese-held island of Tarawa earned him a Bronze Star for courage under fire. Overcoming the psychological stress of his war experiences, Hayward returned to the Hollywood spotlight. He had already notched a few mysteries on his belt when he was cast in the Agatha Christie thriller And Then There Were None (1945), which was a hit. His subsequent list of romantic parts included yet another "Monte Cristo" adventure: the Robin Hood-like Robert Louis Stevenson adventure The Black Arrow (1948) and a succession of pirate parts. He played in two "Captain Blood" sequels, neither of which turned out well for him. There was also yet another "twin" sequel, this time a twist of the Jekyll/Hide story but with the doctor's twin sons, called The Son of Dr. Jekyll (1951). There was also one more outing in an "Iron Mask" vehicle, this time with twin royal sisters and Hayward as a mature D'Artagnan. Amid all this blandness - and seeing double - Hayward had the good sense to develop a business sense in case his career kept on its downward spiral. He was one of the first to incorporate the one percentage-of-profits deal for both the theatrical and television releases of his post-1949 films, ensuring him comfortable lifelong income. Although he continued to make movies, Hayward ventured enthusiastically into television, not only with some ten American playhouse theater productions and episodic television through the 1960s but productions of his own. In 1954, Hayward produced and starred in the 39-week television series The Lone Wolf (1954) (aka "Streets of Danger") after buying exclusive rights to several of Louis Joseph Vance's original "Lone Wolf" stories. He also produced the British series The Pursuers (1961) and the American The Survivors (1969). He bowed out of acting in the mid 1970s, not the screen legend that he had hoped to be, but wiser and certainly comfortable. On February 21, 1985, Louis Hayward died at age 75 of lung cancer in his home in Palm Springs, California.
|Οι δέκα μελλοθάνατοι – And Then There Were None (1945)
|October 31, 1945