James Mason is one of a select group of actors who has topped the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Mason had a long and successful career in the film industry as a dynamic actor and performer. The ease with which he played characters with both good and evil intentions gave him the upper hand. His velvety voice helped him play the role of a great villain, but his refined demeanor and excellent features allowed him play the role of a hero with panache. Mason’s acting career was not purposeful or well-planned, which is interesting. What started off as a casual tryst grew into a full-time job. He began his career as a stage actor in the United Kingdom before moving on to cinema roles. Mason went to Hollywood after achieving stardom in his home country. Hollywood movies, in contrast to British ones, were more flashy and pompous. Mason, on the other hand, did not let the novelty detract from his performance and became accustomed to portraying a variety of roles. The film ‘A Star is Born’ gave him his big break in 1954. It earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Childhood and Adolescence
On May 15, 1909, James Mason was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, to Mabel Hattersley Gaunt and John Mason.
He completed his academic education at Marlborough College and then went on to Peterhouse, Cambridge, to study architecture. Simultaneously, he was interested in stock theatre companies.
Career of James Mason
Mason decided to try acting after finishing his schooling. It was purely for recreational purposes, and he had no plans to pursue it professionally. In 1931, he made his stage debut in Aldershot in the play ‘The Rascal.’
Following his enjoyable tryst, Mason advanced his acting career by enrolling in the Old Vic Theatre in London, where he was mentored by Tyrone Guthrie. He landed a little part in Alexandra Korda’s film “The Private Life of Don Juan” in 1933, but was fired after only three days.
Mason continued to work in the theatre and solidified his status as a performer. He rose to prominence as a theatrical actor, appearing in a number of productions. He progressed from modest roles to major roles in British quota quickies or B-pictures. These were primarily modest films that complied with a legislation requiring a specific percentage of films shown in the United Kingdom to be made in the United Kingdom.
He declared himself a conscientious objector during the Second World War. His tribunal, on the other hand, merely excused him from the necessity to perform non-combatant military duty.
Mason made a name for himself as an actor throughout the 1940s. He had perfected his acting talent and developed his place as one of Britain’s great film stars of the 1940s, despite playing the protagonist in small pictures.
Mason appeared as an anti-hero in a couple of melodramatic films during the first half of the 1940s, including ‘The Man in Grey’ and ‘The Wicked Lady.’ Aside from that, he co-starred in ‘Hatter’s Castle’ with Deborah Kerr and Robert Newton.
Mason landed the major part in the film ‘The Seventh Veil’ in 1945. The film was a big hit, and he gained worldwide reputation and renown as a result of it. He followed it up with the 1947 picture ‘Odd Man Out,’ in which he played an IRA bank robber who was gravely wounded.
Mason’s big year was 1949, when he made his Hollywood debut in the film ‘Caught.’ He continued to act in Hollywood films and on television for the next four decades.
Mason’s best performances came during the decade of 1950. He portrayed Brutus in the 1953 film ‘Julius Caesar,’ Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in the film ‘The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel,’ and a valet turned spy in the film ‘5 Fingers.’
Mason played a fading performer in the first remake of “A Star Is Born” in 1954. He received his first Golden Globe nod for the picture, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. In the same year, he played Captain Nemo in the film ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’
He played a range of roles in films such as ‘Bigger Than Life,’ ‘North by Northest,’ and ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ at the end of the 1950s. Mason, being as artistically gifted as he was, performed them all flawlessly.
He relocated to Switzerland in 1963. Mason’s career took a turn after he changed residences, as he embarked on a transatlantic career. In Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘Lolita,’ he played Humbert. He then starred as a river pirate in ‘Lord Jim,’ Bradley Morahan in ‘Age of Consent,’ Doctor Polidori in ‘Frankenstein: The True Story,’ Richard Staker in ‘Salem’s Lot,’ and Captain Hughes in ‘Yellowbeard.’
Mason featured in the 1975 film ‘Mandingo,’ which was a box office flop. He quickly made up for it, though, with strong performances in ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and ‘Murder by Decree.’
In the 1980s, Mason played Ed Concannon, a corrupt lawyer, in the film ‘The Verdict.’ His outstanding performance earned him his third Academy Award nomination for his interpretation of the character.
Mason’s final film as an actor was ‘The Shooting Party,’ released in 1985. Surprisingly, he was never offered the picture in the first place. It was a set mix-up that led to the replacement of original pick Paul Scofield with Mason. The picture ended up being his final appearance on the big screen.
Mason also narrated two British documentary series, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Unknown Chaplin,’ in addition to films. Sam Neill, an up-and-coming actor, was one of his protégés.
Major Projects of James Mason
Mason’s 1954 adaptation of the 1934 classic ‘A Star Is Born’ was a box office hit. Mason’s career justifiably benefited much as a result of the picture, which lived up to its title. He played Normann Maine, the main character. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, the New York Picture Critics Award for Best Actor, and an Academy Award nomination for the film.
Achievements & Awards
Mason received three Academy Award nominations (two as a supporting actor and one as a lead actor) and three Golden Globe nominations (twice as Lead Actor and once as supporting actor). For his role in the 1954 film “A Star is Born,” he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
He also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for ‘Face to Face,’ the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for ‘A Star is Born,’ the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Leading Role for ‘The Verdict,’ and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year for ‘The Shooting Party.’
For ‘Lolita’ and ‘The Deadly Affair,’ he won two BAFTA nods for Best Actor.
Personal History and Legacy
Mason has had two marriages in his life. Pamela Mason, a British actress, was his first wife. Portland Mason Schuyler, a daughter, and Morgan, a son, were born to the marriage. After 23 years of marriage, the couple divorced.
He married Australian actress Clarissa Kaye in 1971. She stayed with him until he passed away.
Mason was afflicted with illness during the start of the 1960s. In 1959, he survived a heart attack. In 1984, however, he died of it on July 27, 1984. His ashes were interred in Corsier-sur-Vevey after he was cremated.
James Mason Net Worth
James Mason is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors in Hollywood. James Mason’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.