At the age of 16 Rex Harrison joined the Liverpool Repertory Company and subsequently made his London debut at the Everyman Theatre in 1930. His success in the 1935 production of Heroes Don’t Care led to a film contract with Alexander Korda and his first major screen role in Storm in a Teacup.
Lean, tall, charming and blase, he was excellently cast as the social parasite and wastrel hero of The Rake’s Progress and rose to the comedy in Blithe Spirit, winning himself an accolade from Noel Coward who said: “After me you’re the best light comedian in the world”.
In 1964 Harrison was awarded an Oscar for his role as the aloof, idiosyncratic Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, a role he had already made his own on Broadway, but his Hollywood career was been largely disap- pointing: “In Hollywood I played the parts that I feel weren’t right for me … I did the best I could, but I was often unhappy about the results”.
He continued to work on stage and screen though, and was always a favourite of the gossip columnists thanks to his formidable list of illustrious ex- wives includes Lilli Palmer, Kay Kendall and Rachel Roberts.