Alastair Sim

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Memorial plaque near Sims birthplace in Edinburgh.

Alastair Sim CBE (born October 9, 1900 in Edinburgh , Scotland , † August 19, 1976 in London , England ) was a British film and theater actor who was one of Britain's most popular character actors for decades.


Alastair Sim was born in Edinburgh as the youngest child of the justice of the peace and tailor Alexander Sim and his wife Isabella. Towards the end of the First World War, he completed a short-term military service, but was not used in the war. After retiring from the Army, he abandoned his original plans to study chemistry at the University of Edinburgh against the will of his family. Sim actually wanted to become a professional actor by then, but it would take another decade: After various smaller jobs in the Highlands , Sim worked as a rhetoric and language teacher during the 1920s, including at the University of Edinburgh. Early on, he received several prizes for his excellent poetry recitations. In addition to this work, Sim led a small children's theater, where the writer John Drinkwater discovered him and got him an appearance in a 1930s theater production of Othello in London. He was later to return to the University of Edinburgh, however, as Rector of the University of Edinburgh between 1948 and 1951.

After his appearance in Othello , Sim stayed at the theater in London and played mainly in plays by William Shakespeare , but also in plays by George Bernhard Shaw and John Drinkwater. Although he had only entered the professional acting business at the age of 30 and with his striking appearance could not appear as a classic leading men , but only as a character actor, he quickly became a popular and respected actor in the West End. For many years he was a member of the Old Vic Theater . From 1939 until his death in 1951, Sim had a close friendship and partnership with the Scottish author James Bridie, in whose plays he appeared regularly. In his roles, Sim covered a wide spectrum, from villains as Captain Hook to weird owls.

In 1935 Alastair Sim made his film debut as a rather simple-minded police agent in a supporting role in the crime film The Riverside Murder (1935). It wasn't until the mid-1940s that Sim could get lead roles in the movie. In 1951 he received excellent reviews for his very haunting portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in the film of the same name of Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol . A year earlier he played in The Happiest Days of Your Life , with Margaret Rutherford at the side, the headmaster of a boys 'school that also has to take on an evacuated girls' school. Also in 1950 he played a commodore under Alfred Hitchcock in Stage Fright . Hitchcock later classified him as the wrong choice for this role. In the same year as Scrooge , Sim played alongside Hugh Griffith in Laughter in Paradise, one of four heirs who first have to be forced to be lucky. A role actually written for him that Sim turned down was the insane crook Professor Marcus in Ladykillers (1955). Alec Guinness took on the role instead and created it as a tribute to Sim.

After Sim was mainly seen in films in the 1950s, he increasingly returned to the theater in the 1960s. He also appeared on television again and again, for example between 1967 and 1971 in the television series Uncommon Law . In the role of Lord Harrogate , he was last seen on the screen in 1976 in the Walt Disney Pictures production The Little Horses Thieves ( Escape From the Dark / The Littlest Horsethieves ). From 1932 until his death he was married to Naomi Plaskit, one of his drama students from Edinburgh times. He also had a close friendship with the actor George Cole , who even lived with him for a time. In 1976, Alastair Sim died of lung cancer at the age of 75.

Filmography (selection)


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