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James Mason Biography

James Mason“How do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor,” James Mason

Great English actor of British and American films, James Mason was born on May 15, 1909, Hudersfield, Yorkshire, England. He attended Marlborough and Cambridge, where he discovered acting on a lark and abandoned a planned career as an architect. Following work in stock companies, he joined the Old Vic under the guidance of Sir Tyrone Guthrie and of Alexander Korda, who gave Mason at least one small film role in 1933, but fired him a few days into shooting. Mason remained in the theatre becoming a prominent stage actor, meanwhile getting first small, then rapidly larger roles in “quota quickies”, minor films made to accommodate laws mandating a certain percentage of films shown in Britain to be British-made. Mason’s talent for playing protagonists of a decidedly hard-bitten or melancholy stripe brought him from these minor films to a position as one of Britain’s major film stars of the Forties in such films as Odd Man Out and one of my favorite films, The Seventh Veil, featured here at CMF.

When, late in that decade, he came to America, he played somewhat more glamorous or heroic roles than he had been accustomed to in Britain, but he remained a dynamic and intelligent force on the screen. Some of his best films include Julius Caeser, North by Northwest20,000 Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth.

His tendency to take any job offered led him to have many unworthy credits on his resume, but throughout his career he remained a respected and powerful figure in the industry.

His mellifluous voice and an uncanny ability to suggest rampant emotion beneath a face of absolute calm made him a fascinating performer to watch. He died of a heart attack in 1984 at his home in Switzerland.

most of this bio is written by Jim Beaver



  • He should not be confused with the American actor, Jim Mason (I), aka Jim Mason, who appeared in silent films, particularly Westerns in the Twenties and Thirties.
  • He had been considered for the part of Harry Lime in “The Third Man” TV series (1959-60) but ‘Michael Rennie (I)’ ended up in the role.
  • An avowed pacifist, he refused to perform military service during the Second World War, a stance that caused his family to break with him for many years.
  • Father of Morgan Mason
  • Was responsible for getting an unknown actor from New Zealand his first major film role. That actor was Sam Neill.

Some interviews from YouTube with James Mason:

James Mason Awards

Academy Awards, USA

  • 1983 – Nominated, Oscar – Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Verdict (1982)
  • 1967 – Nominated, Oscar – Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Georgy Girl (1966)
  • 1955 – Nominated, Oscar – Best Actor in a Leading Role for A Star Is Born (1954)

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

  • 1979 – Nominated, Saturn Award – Best Supporting Actor for Heaven Can Wait (1978)

BAFTA Awards

  • 1968 – Nominated, BAFTA Film Award – Best British Actor for The Deadly Affair (1966)
  • 1963 – Nominated, BAFTA Film Award – Best British Actor for Lolita (1962)

Evening Standard British Film Awards

  • 1978 – Won, Special Award

Golden Globes, USA

  • 1983 – Nominated, Golden Globe – Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture for The Verdict (1982)
  • 1963 – Nominated, Golden Globe – Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama for Lolita (1962)
  • 1955 – Won, Golden Globe – Best Motion Picture Actor – Musical/Comedy for A Star Is Born (1954)

London Critics Circle Film Awards

  • 1986 – Won, ALFS Award Actor of the Year for The Shooting Party (1985). – Tied with Richard Farnsworth The Grey Fox.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

1982 – 2nd place, LAFCA Award

  • Best Supporting Actor for The Verdict (1982) – National Board of Review, USA
  • 1953 – Won, NBR Award – Best Actor for Face to Face (1952), The Desert Rats (1953), Julius Caesar (1953) and The Man Between (1953)

National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

  • 1986 – 3rd place, NSFC Award – Best Actor for The Shooting Party (1985). Tied with Sean Penn for The Falcon and the Snowman
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards -1973 – 3rd place, NYFCC Award Best Actor for Child’s Play (1972)
  • 1954 – 2nd place, NYFCC Award – Best Actor for A Star Is Born (1954)

Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • 1960 – Won, Star on the Walk of Fame – on 8 February 1960. At 6821 Hollywood Blvd.

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