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Alan Mowbray

Alan Mowbray
from the trailer for Topper Takes a Trip (1939)
Born Alfred Ernest Allen
(1896-08-18)18 August 1896
London, England
Died 25 March 1969(1969-03-25) (aged 72)
Hollywood, California, USA
Years active 1931–1969
Spouse(s) Lorraine Carpenter (1927-69) (his death)
Children 2

Alan Mowbray MM (born Alfred Ernest Allen, 18 August 1896 – 25 March 1969) was an English stage and film actor who found success in Hollywood.


  • Career 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Raymond Chandler on Mowbray 3
  • Partial filmography 4
  • TV appearances 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Born Alfred Ernest Allen in London, England, he served with distinction the British Army in World War I, being awarded the Military Medal for bravery. He began his stage career in London in 1922, as an actor and stage manager.[1] In 1923 he arrived in the United States[2] and was soon acting with New York stock companies. He debuted on Broadway in The Sport of Kings (1926); in 1929 he wrote, directed and starred in the unsuccessful Dinner is Served.[3]

Mowbray made his film debut in Alexander Hamilton. In 1935 he played one of the male leads in Becky Sharp, the first feature-length movie in full-color Technicolor, as well as playing the lead in the farcical Night Life of the Gods, based on a Thorne Smith novel. It was for another Thorne Smith–derived movie, Topper (1937), that Mowbray may be best remembered; he played Topper's butler, Wilkins, a role he reprised the following year in Topper Takes a Trip. Throughout the 1930s and -40s Mowbray worked steadily, appearing in over 120 films.[4]

In the 1950s Mowbray's film roles decreased and he began to appear on television. He played the title role in the DuMont TV series Colonel Humphrey Flack, which first aired in 1953–1954 and was revived in 1958–1959. In the 1954–1955 television season Mowbray played Mr. Swift, the drama coach of the character Mickey Mulligan, in NBC's short-lived situation comedy The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan. He continued to appear occasionally in movies. In 1956 he appeared in three major films, The King and I, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and was one of the many stars to make a cameo appearance in Around the World in 80 Days.[4] His final film role was as Captain Norcross in A Majority of One in 1961. In 1963 he returned to Broadway in the successful comedy Enter Laughing, playing David Kolowitz's unscrupulous mentor Marlowe.

Mowbray was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933, writing a personal check to fund the group's incorporation and serving as the first vice-president.[5][3]

Personal life

Alan Mowbray was among the founders of the Hollywood Cricket Club.[6] He was a prominent early member of the Masquers Club[7] and donated the group's long-time clubhouse on Sycamore in Hollywood.[8]

Mowbray died of a heart attack in 1969 in Hollywood and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[9]

Raymond Chandler on Mowbray

Novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler alludes to Mowbray's screen persona in his pulp magazine story Mandarin's Jade (1937):

"The Philip Courtney Prendergast's (sic) lived on one of those wide, curving streets where the houses seem to be too close together for their size and the amount of money they represent... the house had an English slate roof and a porte-cochère, some nice imported trees, a trellis with a bougainvillea. It was a nice place and not loud. But Beverly Hills is Beverly Hills, so the butler had wing collar and an accent like Alan Mowbray.”[10]

Partial filmography

TV appearances


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Moreno, Barry (2008). Ellis Island's Famous Immigrants. Arcadia. p. 98.  
  3. ^ a b Mank, Gregory W. (2007). Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the "Bundy Drive" Boys. Feral House. p. 152-153.  
  4. ^ a b Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 531–532.  
  5. ^ Prindle, David F. (2012). The Politics of Glamour: Ideology and Democracy in the Screen Actors Guild. Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 21–22.  
  6. ^ Sentance, P. David (2006). Cricket in America, 1710–2000. McFarland. p. 212.  
  7. ^ "Masquers Club". SAG–AFTRA. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  8. ^ Dean, Paul (April 25, 1985). "Unmasking Masquers: End of a Landmark?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  9. ^ Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous. Globe Pequot. p. 170.  
  10. ^ Chandler, Raymond T. 1937. 'Mandarin's Jade' originally published in Dime Detective Magazine, November, 1937. Republished in Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories. 2002. Everyman's Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, p. 667.

External links

  • Alan Mowbray at the Internet Movie Database
  • Alan Mowbray at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Alan Mowbray at AllMovie
  • The Adventures of Colonel Flack
  • "Alan Mowbray".  
  • "Up From Central Park: Scenes From an Actor's Life", book review of Mowbray's memoirs at Immortal Ephemera, including excerpts
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