Ronald Colman was a British actor who won an Academy Award for his parts in films such as ‘A Double Life,’ ‘Random Harvest,’ ‘Bulldog Drummond,’ and ‘Condemned.’ He portrayed the typical English gentleman in Hollywood films, standing out from the gruff onscreen images of the time’s American performers, thanks to his polished good looks and sophisticated demeanor. He was born in England and showed an early interest in acting, although he intended to pursue engineering as a career. He had intended to study engineering at Cambridge, but fate had other ideas. Ronald lost his father when he was 16, and owing to financial difficulties, he had to abandon his engineering ambitions. He dabbled in acting and quickly rose to prominence. However, the start of World War I halted his performing career for a few years, preventing him from establishing a solid foothold in the theater. Following the war, he resumed his acting career and eventually relocated to Hollywood, where his elegant Englishness, polished demeanor, and distinctive delightful voice made him one of the most popular performers of the 1930s. His series of hits lasted far into the 1940s and 1950s, with him receiving widespread acclaim for his flawless acting abilities, which earned him the prestigious Academy Award.
Childhood and Adolescence
Charles Colman, a silk merchant, and his wife, Marjory Read Fraser, gave birth to Ronald Charles Colman on February 9, 1891, in Richmond, Surrey, England, United Kingdom. He was one of four siblings.
He went to boarding school in Littlehampton, Sussex, where he developed his passion for acting. However, pursuing acting as a vocation did not occur to him, and he intended to attend Cambridge to study engineering.
He had to adjust his plans due to a family tragedy. Ronald’s father died of illness in 1907, preventing him from pursuing a further education.
Ronald Colman began acting as a hobby and quickly rose to prominence as a well-known amateur actor. In 1914, he became a member of the West Middlesex Dramatic Society and made his professional stage debut.
When World War I broke out, he had to put his fledgling acting career on hold. In September 1914, he joined the London Scottish Regiment and was deployed to France to fight on the Western Front. He was invalided out of the British Army in 1915 after being critically hurt by shrapnel during the Battle of Messines. Despite his eventual recovery, the injury left him with a chronic limp.
In 1916, he returned to acting, portraying Rahmat Sheikh in the drama ‘The Maharani of Arakan’ and Stephen Weatherbee in the play ‘The Misleading Lady.’ A cinema producer took notice of his stage performances, and by 1919, he had acted in three short silent dramas.
In 1920, Ronald Colman traveled to America with Robert Warwick and featured in ‘The Dauntless Three’ and ‘East is West’ with Fay Bainter. He established a following in the United States as a result of his good looks and acting abilities, and he had a lot of success as Alain Sergyll in ‘La Tendresse’ at the Empire Theatre in New York City.
His theater performances led to film offers, and he was cast as the leading male in the 1923 picture “The White Sister” by director Henry King. Colman’s Hollywood career was basically begun thanks to the success of the film. Soon after, he was a silent movie star, and he was put opposite some of the era’s most gorgeous females, including Vilma Banky.
With the introduction of talkies, his career, which had already been a major success in silent pictures, reached new heights. With a seductive, deep voice that enhanced his sex appeal as a cultured and handsome Englishman, he enjoyed enormous success with his first two talkies, ‘Condemned’ and ‘Bulldog Drummond,’ both released in 1929.
In the 1930s, he acted in films such as ‘The Masquerader’ in 1933, ‘Clive of India’ and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in 1935, and ‘Under Two Flags’ and ‘Lost Horizon’ in 1937, continuing his trend of success.
Following World War II, his cinematic career was hampered, and he shifted his concentration to radio and television. During the 1940s, he had numerous guest appearances on radio’s ‘The Jack Benny Program,’ and from 1950 to 1952, he played William Todhunter Hall, president of a small Midwestern Ivy College,’ on the radio comedy ‘The Halls of Ivy.’
Major Projects of Ronald Colman
In the film ‘Bulldog Drummond,’ Ronald Colman played the title character, which was based on a play by Herman C. McNeile. His portrayal of a demobilized British captain who aids a beautiful young woman in danger became one of the actor’s most well-known performances, and he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Colman is best known for his depiction of Anthony John, a fictional actor who becomes a merciless murderer. He established that he could play both good and bad roles with equal élan with his spectacular performance as a mentally ill man.
Achievements & Awards
He was nominated for the Academy Awards three times and won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in ‘A Double Life’ (1947). He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture for the same film.
He received the George Eastman Award from George Eastman House for outstanding contributions to the art of filmmaking.
Personal History and Legacy
Ronald Colman was married twice. His first marriage, which lasted from 1920 to 1934, was to Thelma Raye. In 1938, he married Benita Hume for the second time. He was the father of one daughter.
He died of acute emphysema on May 19, 1958, at the age of 67.
In 1975, his daughter Juliet Benita Colman published his biography, “Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person.”
Ronald Colman Net Worth
Ronald is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors in Hollywood. Ronald Colman’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.