John Merivale - Rotten Tomatoes

John Merivale

Highest Rated:   100% King Rat (1965)
Birthplace:   Not Available
As a theater actor, John Merivale was one of the last "matinee idols" of the post-World War II era, enjoying nearly three decades of success on-stage in England and America, interspersed with occasional leading roles in movies and guest-starring parts on television. The son of actor Philip Merivale (who had originated the role of Colonel Pickering in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, and is most familiar to filmgoers as Justice Longstreet, the father of the Loretta Young character in Orson Welles' The Stranger [1946]) and actress Gladys Cooper, John Merivale was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1917. He was educated in England, at Rugby and New College, Oxford, although his studies were curtailed when his father lost a fortune investing in a failed theatrical production. Merivale began his film career almost prematurely, playing a newsboy in the James Whale horror-fantasy-thriller The Invisible Man (1933) when he was 15, but his real movie career didn't begin until the 1950s. Merivale's stage career started when he was 21, as an understudy in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, where he first met Vivien Leigh. He later worked in the production of Romeo and Juliet by Leigh and her husband, Laurence Olivier -- an infamous failure that cost the couple most of their savings (and made it necessary for them to do the movie That Hamilton Woman). Merivale later married actress Jan Sterling. His profile, one of the most stunning among his generation of actors, and his good manners, coupled with his talent and range, made him an ideal prospect as a leading man, but realizing that potential had to wait for the end of World War II. Merivale served as a pilot with both the British and Canadian air forces during the war, and resumed his career in 1946. That year, he had a starring role in a successful American production of Lady Windermere's Fan. He remained active in theater over the ensuing 25 years, earning great notices in such productions as Venus Observed, Anne of a Thousand Days, The Reluctant Debutante (later the basis for the movie of the same name and its remake, What a Girl Wants), and The Last of Mrs. Cheyney. Merivale occasionally did films, usually in gentlemanly leading roles -- notably in A Night to Remember (1958), and with key roles in King Rat, Arabesque, and The List of Adrian Messenger. He also became a familiar figure on television, as a guest star on such dramatic series as The Third Man. Merivale had divorced Sterling in 1948, and in 1960, while he was appearing on Broadway in Duel of Angels, he once more crossed paths with Vivien Leigh. The two began a romantic affair that became public after Leigh admitted that her marriage to Olivier was effectively over, and the new couple remained devoted to each other after she and Olivier were divorced. Merivale was able to provide the actress with much of what happiness she had during the final seven years of her life. After Leigh's death, he met actress Dinah Sheridan, who was married to Rank Organization head John Davis. Sheridan later divorced Davis and married Merivale, and was devoted to him for the rest of their lives together. In 1970, Merivale, then 52, was informed that he suffered from a congenital condition that would result in total renal failure in less than ten years (his father, in declining health in the 1940s, had succumbed to heart failure at 59); Sheridan's emotional support, coupled with the existence of dialysis, made it possible for Merivale to live twice as long as his doctors believed possible, to age 72.

Highest Rated Movies



74% Arabesque
  • Sloane
100% King Rat
  • Foster
67% The List of Adrian Messenger
  • Adrian Messenger
No Score Yet House of Mystery
  • Clive
No Score Yet Circus of Horrors (Phantom of the Circus)
  • Edward Finsbury
No Score Yet Caltiki - il mostro immortale (Caltiki the Undying Monster)
  • Dr. John Fielding
100% A Night to Remember
  • Lucas
82% The Battle of the River Plate (Pursuit of the Graf Spee)
  • Pilot
94% The Invisible Man
  • Boy

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