Esmond Penington Knight (4 May 1906 – 23 February 1987) was an English actor. He had a successful stage and film career before World War II. For much of his later career Knight was half blind. He had been badly injured in 1941 whilst on active service on board HMS Prince of Wales when she fought the Bismarck at the Battle of the Denmark Strait, and remained totally blind for two years, though he later regained some sight in his right eye.
East Sheen, Surrey, England, U.K.
Place of Death
London, England, U.K.
Rosalind Knight (daughter) (actress)
Full Name at Birth
Esmond Penington Knight
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Actor (150 credits)
Miscellaneous Crew (2 credits)
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Esmond Knight (1906–1987)
Actor | Miscellaneous Crew
Date of Birth 4 May 1906, East Sheen, Surrey, England, UK
Date of Death 23 February 1987, London, England, UK (heart attack)
Birth Name Esmond Penington Knight
Mini Bio (1)
A stage actor from 1925, Esmond made his first film appearance in 77 Park Lane (1931) for Michael Powell for whom he eventually made 11 films.
Esmond served in the Royal Navy during WWII and lost one eye and was almost totally blinded in the other during an engagement against The Bismarck. This didn't stop him later portraying a Royal Naval officer in Sink the Bismarck! (1960).
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Crook
Nora Swinburne (4 October 1946 - 23 February 1987) (his death)
Frances Clare (19 January 1929 - 1946) (divorced) (1 child)
Michael Powell said of his first seeing Esmond, "... a sulky, handsome young man with a mane of black hair and magnetic eyes, almost too romantically handsome to be true. Then one day I saw him giggling with one of the sound engineers and I realised that it was all a pose and he had a sense of humour."
Cousin of Jean Knight.
Nephew of C.W.R. Knight.
Father of Rosalind Knight.
Esmond Knight played the captain of the Prince of Wales in the film Sink the Bismarck! (1960). Ironically, it was while serving aboard the real Prince of Wales during her fight with the Bismarck that he suffered his injuries.
It is often reported that he died in Cairo, Egypt. In fact (as his daughter confirms), he came back from working in Egypt and died the next day in his flat in Chelsea.
Remained close friends with his first wife Frances Clare after their divorce. Frances in fact attended his funeral alongside wife Nora Swinburne.
Suffered from a stuttering problem, which he continually had to overcome with speech exercises, and usually suffered from a huge case of stage fright just before going on.
Father-in-law of Michael Elliott.
Grandfather of Su Elliot and Marianne Elliott.
Cousin of Phillip Glasier.
Along with John Laurie and Russell Thorndike, he is one of only three actors other than Laurence Olivier himself to appear in all three Shakespearean films that Olivier directed: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955).
He appeared in four of the five films that Laurence Olivier directed: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955) and The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). The only film that Oliver directed in which he did not appear was Three Sisters (1970). The only actor to appear in all five of Olivier's films as director was Olivier himself.
He died five months prior to the release of his final film Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
He appeared in four films directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger: A Canterbury Tale (1944), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948) and Gone to Earth (1950). He also appeared in two films that Powell directed on his own: Blackout (1940) and The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972).
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