One of the 20th century’s greatest actors, Sir John Gielgud OM CH (1904-2000), is intimately associated with Oxford Playhouse (in its original site on Woodstock Rd where his career was forged during the 1920s and in its present location) and with the New Theatre. At both venues he has been involved with dozens of productions as both actor and director. Gielgud also made notable television appearances in overtly Oxford settings in the original television production of Brideshead Revisted (1981) and in the Inspector Morse episode ‘Twilight of the Gods’ (1993). Oxfordshire Studies holds a remarkable collection of printed ephemera from most of Gielgud’s Oxford productions. He was cremated at Oxford Crematorium.
Gielgud’s place in British LGBTQ history is assured. On 20 October 1953 he was arrested and outed by the press for soliciting sex with another man in a public lavatory in Chelsea. The episode played a significant part in the convening of the Home Office’s Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (the Wolfenden committee) in 1954.
Image: Promotional still from Inspector Morse episode ‘Twilight of the Gods’ with John Thaw as Morse (left), John Gielgud (centre), and Kevin Whateley as Lewis (right). © ITV / Rex Features (reproduced with permission).