Why was he such a horrible man?\
He treated the women in his life like dirt, and a couple of them apparently committed suicide because of it.
I thought his last girlfriend/wife died of Leukemia. Kay something? And Lilli Palmer, his ex-wife, spoke highly enough of him in her memoir, considering he ran off on her with Kay the sick girl.
Didn''t he make one of his ex''s get an abortion and that''s why she killed herself? It was another famous actress.\
He was wonderful in "Night Train to Munich".
Not to mention how he destroyed My Fair Lady.
One story about Harrison comes from his longtime friend Alan Jay Lerner's accounts of the MY FAIR LADY rehearsals. For those who know the play, this occurred during the scene in Act II when Higgins is at his mother's house arguing with Eliza. The actress who played his mother, Cathleen Nesbitt (who would play the role for 25 years in fact, reprising it during Harrison's last go at the role in the early 1980s when he was in his 70s and she was in her 90s) was deaf in one ear.
Per Lerner, Rex was complaining of indigestion all day, and during the scene that night he delivered his line to Nesbitt, then, again per Lerner, "Rex let out the loudest fart ever to occur on the Broadway stage, so loud it could be heard in the balcony".
Lerner said the audience was shocked but kept it together until Nesbitt, who had not heard it, spoke her next line: "Henry dear, stop grinding your teeth", at which point the play had to stop for about five minutes. (Rex was not amused and Ms Nesbitt had to be informed later what happened.)
What''s the big deal? He was a straight man who thought the world revolved around him.
(Kay Kendall, R1)\
Interestingly, the song "A Hymn to Him" (aka "Why Can''t a Woman Be More Like a Man?"), from My Fair Lady, was inspired by a personal conversation between the 6 times married Harrison and the 8 times married Alan Jay Lerner. While discussing their many marriages and divorces, Lerner recalled Harrison musing that it might have been easier if they were homosexual and lived in a world of only men. Needing a song to underscore Higgins'' notion of his natural superiority to women, Lerner (and Lowe) morphed Harrison''s own thoughts into one of his Act II numbers.
Art sometimes mirrors life.
I''ve always loved the Kenneth Tynan story. \
He detested him and hoped one day would Harrison would get into a fist fight with a member of the public. This was so he could run the headline in the Times of London, "Shit Hits Fan".
Carole Landis committed suicide. His wife Kay Kendall died of cancer. And Rachel Roberts killed herself so that would be two to suicide.
Seth MacFarland based Family Guy''s baby Stewie Griffin on Mr. Harrison''s speaking voice.
A little off topic, but I saw one of those performances with Cathleen Nesbitt when she was in her 90s, and I still can''t believe I saw someone who fucked Rupert Brooke.
she did, didn''t she?
I remember seeing a video, must have been on Youtube but I can''t find it again, of the first sing-thru of MFL with the orchestra. When he heard the percussive orchestrations in ''Why Can''t a Women...", he starting yelling at the conductor demanding that those noises be removed immediately. Anyone else remember seeing this?
And yes, one of the biggest pricks in theatre history.
He was excellent in Preston Sturges'' "Unfaithfully Yours", playing Linda Darnell''s homicidal egomaniac husband.
[quote]And Lilli Palmer, his ex-wife, spoke highly enough of him in her memoir, considering he ran off on her with Kay the sick girl.\
While she spoke highly of him as an actor, she made no bones about the fact that he was indeed a prick. Rex''s excuse for leaving Lilli was to be with Kay Kendall until she died, but then he would return. Lilli told him if he left she wouldn''t take him back under any circumstances.
Rachel Roberts apparently never got over being divorced by Rex Harrison. She used to tell people about how she felt about it and then killed herself in 1980.\
What was interesting about it is that her suicide was similar to her character''s suicide in the movie "Picnic at Hanging Rock".
For heaven''s sake, R11, the goings-on in the film you describe were obviously staged for the film. It was supposed to be making fun of the fact that Harrison wasn''t known as a singer and was therefore nonplussed by the orchestra.
"I thought his last girlfriend/wife died of Leukemia. Kay something? "%0D\
Kay Kendall, who was one of the most enchanting comic actresses of all time. But she wasn''t his last wife, she was the third out of six. After she died, he married three more times.%0D\
In Lili Palmer''s book (she was wife #2?), I recall that he was having an affair with Kendall while married to Palmer, and that was when Kendall was diagnosed with the leukemia that killed her. Nobody ever told Kendall herself what was wrong with her, there was no treatment in those days and keeping the patient in the dark was thought to be the kindest thing to do. Anyway, various people told Harrison that he had to marry Kendall and stay with her until the end, and I don''t remember if Palmer (wife #2?) was one of them.
I remember reading somewhere that Harrison didn''t want to be told about his pancreatic cancer so the doctors sort of tap danced around what was really going on. Anybody else remember that or am I losing my mind?
If I Remember correctly, Sexy Rexy was widely regarded as a total horse''s ass.
G. B. Shawl
[quote]Anyway, various people told Harrison that he had to marry Kendall and stay with her until the end, and I don''t remember if Palmer (wife #2?) was one of them.\
Kendall was wife #3. After she died, he told wife #2, Lilli Palmer, that he had only left her because he felt sorry for Kendall. At that point, he wanted to re-marry Palmer, who declined the offer.\
R2, the rumor is that he was trying to force girlfriend Carole Landis into getting an abortion, and she killed herself instead when he wouldn''t leave Lilli Palmer for her after she got pregnant. \
I also have heard a persistent rumor that Landis was still alive when Harrison found her after she OD''d on Seconal, but he declined to call a doctor for some reason. Indeed, if you look at photos from the scene, Landis'' body appears to still be in a position of trying to pull herself off the floor. It''s kind of creepy and makes you wonder if she was trying to save herself.\
Harrison was bad news.
And Rachel Roberts was wife #4 and suicide #2.
Here''s an oldish article from the UK Daily Fail. It''s not particularly flattering.\
"He was an abusive, philandering, self-serving, gluttonous egomaniac with a blind indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others.\
Nobody escaped his vile temper or his scathing tongue - not even his fans."
He is still fascinating in films like BLITHE SPIRIT, THE HONEYPOT and his Caesar in CLEOPATRA.%0D
Lilli Palmer (wife 2) seems to have tolerated his many affairs - perhaps she was having affairs of her own?; he did the decent thing by Kendall by marrying her in 1957 knowing she would die in a few years (which she did in 1959), by then Palmer had married Argentine actor Carlos Thompson, Rex went to marry English actress Rachel Roberts - they both drank a lot and created scenes at various hollywood parties - she never got used to not being Mrs Harrison any more and killed herself by swallowing poison in 1980 (Rex had married 2 more times by then). %0D
It seems Carole Landis had tried to commit suicide several times but was always discovered in time, but in 1948 she had forgot the next day was a public holiday so her maid did not arrive in time to save her, it seems Rex found the body and left the scene. %0D
Lilli had a good story in her book about trying to decide what to wear to the funeral of her husband's mistress - black was thought too much so she settled for wearing navy ! %0D
Her book "Change Lobsters And Dance" (its still available) is a great read on them all - she detested Kendall whom everyone else (including me) loved as one of England's greatest glamorous comediennes. Lilli was also great friends with Noel Coward. %0D
One interesting story: Rex had a fling with Austrian star Romy Schneider in hollywood in '63 (he was filming My Fair Lady, and she was making Good Neighbour Sam) - he called to her room one afternoon to find her in slumped in a coma from an accidental overdose of cocaine and he fled the scene again, fearing another scandal like the Landis one, so that was the end of him and Romy. She died 20 years later of a rumoured heart attack so drugs may have been a factor in that - she was much younger than Sexy Rexy but she had made 2 films with Lilli in Germany in the 50s so may have initially met him then and perhaps it amused her to get her chance with him in the 60s. %0D
Lilli's husband Carlos killed himself 4 years after Lilli dying and when Harrison died part of his ashes were scattered on Lilli's grave in L.A. %0D
Today's stars are not quite as interesting !
r22 again. That article is incorrect from the Daily Mail. It was Palmer who declined to re-marry Harrison after Kendall''s death, as she had already met Carlos Thompson.%0D\
Kendall was with him him in New York during the stage run of My Fair Lady and was often backstage and sometimes appeared in the ball scene as a extra. She and Rex are terrific together in Minnelli''s 1958 film The Reluctant Debutante which captures their comedy style. %0D\
She is also fabulous as one of Cukor''s Les Girls in 1957. %0D
He was so deeply unattractive - why kill yourself over him?
Despite the forename he chose, Rex did his detractors, and Yul Brynner, a favour by turning down ''The King And I.'' Fee insufficient. \
Noel Coward (similarly self-invented) once said to Rex, ''If it weren''t for our gift for light comedy, we''d be lucky to be selling expensive cars on Park Lane.''
"Rachel Roberts apparently never got over being divorced by Rex Harrison. She used to tell people about how she felt about it and then killed herself in 1980."\
Rachel Roberts was bi-polar and unmedicated. Her suicide was only a matter of time.
"He was so deeply unattractive - why kill yourself over him?"\
My thoughts exactly. What an ugly piece of shit.
She was mentally ill, dear.
For Heaven''s sake R15, it was not for the movie. He was on an empty theatre stage obviously the first time he heard the orchestrations.
Sounds like Henry Higgens was not much of a stretch for him. I always thought his character was one a pretty horrible one. Emotionally abusive, and so smug at the end when Eliza came back (any lesson he seemed to be learning in I Have Grown Accustomed to Her Face quickly evaporated). Good music aside, I always thought My Fair Lady and Carousel had some disturbing themes if you love the man, you will endure his abuse.
Has anyone read or seen Christopher Durang''s play MISS WITHERSPOON. It''s about a woman who kills herself and keeps getting reborn into different circumstances. One of the themes was that, in an earlier life, she was once married to Rex Harrison and his name pops up over and over in the play;
At the time of the Landis death there seemed to be some question about what really happened the night she died. Fox paid off the police department to destroy another note that was found at the scene.%0D\
Carol Landis'' family is convinced Harrison murdered her.
Hey r11 I remember that clip of Harrison screaming at the MFL conductor as well and would love to find it, too. %0D\
Wasn''t Rex also (unsurprisingly) abusive to Julie Andrews during rehearsals....didn''t he try to have her fired?
Well, R33, Julie Andrews, despite being a child performer, was really in over her head at the beginning of MFL rehearsals. She might have been fired but Moss Hart spent a lot of time with her and worked really hard to get her to improve, which she obviously did.%0D\
That said, did Rex at least have a big dick to make it worth their while?
"That said, did Rex at least have a big dick to make it worth their while?"\
Egocentric men with delusions of grandeur rarely are a good lay.
"Good music aside, I always thought My Fair Lady and Carousel had some disturbing themes if you love the man, you will endure his abuse."%0D\
George Bernard Shaw got it right when he wrote "Pygmalion" - he had Eliza leave Prof. Higgins at the end, because he''s impossible. When the story was made into a musical the writers had her come back, apparently out of sheer conventiality. They couldn''t bear to see a man and a woman go through much together and then go their seperate ways, even if they are totally incompatible.%0D\
Back to bitchery about Harrison, please.
[quote]When the story was made into a musical the writers had her come back, apparently out of sheer conventiality.\
Actually the ending was first changed for the film version of "Pygmalion" starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller in 1936--Liza returns to Higgins at the end ("Where the devil are my slippers?").\
Re: Carole Landis--Wasn''t she bi? I seem to recall reading in a bio of Jacqueline Susann that the two of them had an affair during the run of some Broadway show during the early ''40''s when Susann was still doing bit parts as an actress.
My mother was a singer/actress in NYC in the ''50s and ''60s. When she auditioned for a small role in My Fair Lady, Harrison unsuccessfully propositioned her in his typically nasty way. She didn''t get cast, but Harrison demanded to be escorted in and out of the theater for weeks after he was threatened by my stage carpenter father and a few of his friends. For his entire run, Harrison was plagued by petty thefts, pins "mistakenly" left in his costumes and mysterious malfunctions of his dressing room heat, etc. Apparently Rex didn''t have the common sense to know not to fuck with Local 926 members'' families.
"George Bernard Shaw got it right when he wrote ''Pygmalion'' - he had Eliza leave Prof. Higgins at the end, because he''s impossible. When the story was made into a musical the writers had her come back, apparently out of sheer conventiality. They couldn''t bear to see a man and a woman go through much together and then go their seperate ways, even if they are totally incompatible."\
R37 is correct. Sorta. MY FAIR LADY is based more on the 1938 film (starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller) than the play, which introduced several elements that made it into the musical (i.e. "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain," "Where the devil are my slippers"). Furthermore, the screenplay was written by.... George Bernard Shaw himself (and won an Oscar for it, to boot!) so you should say instead, "He got it right the first time."
He''s one of those people I just never "got." I guess my first exposure to him was Dr. Doolittle when I was just a kid, but even then the budding queen in me was bugged that he was talking, rather than singing, his songs. When I was older and saw MFL on TV, I thought he was horrible in it and hated the ending when Eliza comes back to him. Why would she have done that?\
And his nickname, Sexy Rexy? In what alternate, bizarro universe?
Guys with big dicks can get away with anything. Or at least they think they can.
[quote]And his nickname, Sexy Rexy? In what alternate, bizarro universe?\
I''m not really a fan, but have you ever seen "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir"? Not too shabby.\
Apropos of absolutely nothing, I wonder what it was like on the set of "Anna and the King". Rex Harrison, satyr, meets Irene Dunne, second only to Loretta Young in her Catholicism. Oy.
"I still can''t believe I saw someone who fucked Rupert Brooke."%0D\
Oh no dear, hand jobs only. Cathleen Nesbitt was a LADY.%0D
Rupert Brooke = the most beautiful poet evah.
Didn''t Susie Lee say something to the effect that Landis was very talented, but sort of a pain; she always had to let everyone know she was smarter than they were? (Have I got this wrong?)
''Rupert Brooke = the most beautiful poet evah.'' Bitch, please.
Gosh r22 you know your Harrison and Kendall and Palmer and Roberts ....%0D\
amazing how so many people now have no idea of actor''s lives or careers from about 50 years ago!
r37, I think Carole was bisexual. Kay Francis fucked her. But I''m sure Carole initiated that one because she was a fan of Francis... It''s really unfortunate that she lost her life at such a young age. I also hate how she was treated as though she had no family, and she wasn''t a human being. I mean, destroying notes left to her family? Ugh.
We''ve known for centuries that actors are trashy. That''s why society usually holds them at arms'' length: be amused by them but keep them away.
[quote]Sexy Rexy? In what alternate, bizarro universe?%0D\
The one where Bill "Thunderthighs" Clinton is catnip to the ladies. He projected an air of supreme self-confidence and masterful masculine authority. Many women find that sexier than bulging body parts.
r38 it seems like you might have lots of good stories to share! More please.
[quote]Re: Carole Landis--Wasn''t she bi?\
She did have affairs with women, as has been noted. She was also allegedly kinky in some way, but I don''t know that I ever heard specifics, just speculation that she was a nymphomaniac.
well at least rex harrison had a BIG dick to keep us all happy,and he knew how to use it!
I for one would have loved to suck rex harrison off,and eventually live with him.he was one hell of a sexy man,and loved a good blowjob!
Rex Harrison was cancer to women. Poor Carole Landis!
In early 1947 with Horace in New York, Carole met Rex Harrison on the set of “Out of the Blue”. Within days, they were spending every spare moment together. Carole was in love again but Rex was just looking for another conquest. He was still very much married to actress Lilli Palmer who spent their marriage looking the other way.
One Sunday afternoon, Carole had planned a pool party with an intimate dinner with Rex. He told his friends later that, after dinner, he told Carole the affair was over. It must have been too much for her damaged heart to endure. When Rex left, she took all of her personal files and mementos, sorted them into two bags with a note on one for Rex. One bag was found in the house, the other in the driveway of the house where Rex was staying with friends. The following morning, while Carole’s maid was making breakfast in the kitchen, Harrison burst into the house. He asked the maid to go up and check on Carole. “I think she is dead”.
In the summer of 1948, Carole had planned a pool party for that Sunday afternoon with an intimate dinner with Rex. He told his friends later that, after dinner, he told Carole the affair was over. It must have been too much for her damaged heart to endure. When Rex left, she took all of her personal files and mementos, sorted them into two bags with a note on one for Rex. One bag was found in the house, the other in the driveway of the house where Rex was staying with friends. The following morning, while Carole’s maid was making breakfast in the kitchen, Harrison burst into the house. He asked the maid to go up and check on Carole. “I think she is dead”.
They found Carole sprawled on the bathroom floor. An empty pill bottle lay nearby. Harrison, who claimed he felt a slight pulse, fled the house, ostensibly to call the doctor or police. He did neither until a full hour later when he returned. But they had already been called. The coroner determined Carole had been dead 12 hours. Since notes were found (one to Rex and one to her mother) a brief inquest declared the death a suicide. The note to Rex was never disclosed and was among the articles later burned by Harrison and his wife. Harrison bribed a police officer to destroy it. But Hollywood, the press and Carole’s fans would hold Rex Harrison responsible.
In the suicide note she left for her mother was written: “Dearest Mommie, I’m sorry, really sorry, to put you through this but there is no way to avoid it. I love you darling, you have been the most wonderful mom ever. And that applies to all our family. I love each and every one of them dearly. Everything goes to you—look in the files and there is a will which decrees everything. Good bye, my angel. Pray for me, Your Baby.”
"Rachel Roberts was bi-polar and unmedicated. Her suicide was only a matter of time."
Not to take away from the fact that Harrison was a dick, but I can't imagine any woman willingly starting a relationship with him unless she was already mentally unbalanced.
As a kid in the 70's I only saw Roberts in comedies. I really liked her.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir DVD has the A&E Biography of Rex Harrison. It sums up both his career and his affairs with women pretty well.
There's nothing in there about him trying anything on Gene Tierney. She was still married to Oleg Cassini at that point but they were having troubles and she had recently met and gotten involved with the young Jack Kennedy. I'm assuming being involved with two serial womanizers kept her from getting involved with a third.
He scared the shit out of me!
Here is the clip of Rex yelling, staged for the show "The Fabulous Fifties."
It was a LOT nastier originally. Believe Me.
And Rex passed a LOT more gas.
R65- Harrison's Higgins is one of the great stage and film performances of all time in my opinion. He's brilliant whatever kind of asshole he was- Actually I met him in the late 70's. He dated for a bit a woman I know in NYC. He was perfectly polite and not even pretentious. She was (is) quite a woman, beautiful, salt of earth and classy. She was ultimately not interested in him for reasons unknown to me.
My Fair Lady is genius- in story and music. Of course Higgins is a prig/prick/bore. That's part of the story of course.
While Cary Grant was a brilliant comic actor, he never could have pulled off the performing of the music. Harrison is brilliant.
If Rex Harrison could pull off the music, Cary Grant certainly could have. It would have been a different Higgins, obviously, but Cary could even carry a tune.
Harrison was an egomaniacal asshole. Period.
I can't even imagine Cary Grant in that part. Harrison is to Henry Higgins what Yul Brynner was to the King of Siam. He was an enormous prick to be sure, but he was great in that part.
Can you imagine me in that part, r75?
Seriously now, why some threads don't exist anymore? For example, why this happened with the Steve McQueen thread? It had responses and many beautiful photos until someone decided to delete it. It's so rude when someone just decides to 'kill' a thread. It almost implies malice. I don't get it.
This has been an interesting thread. I'm glad it got bumped.
After reading this thread I finally understand why Rex was so good in Midnight Lace-you know, the movie where he's trying to kill his wife. He was probably really enjoying in that role.
Did Doris Day ever make any comments about filming that movie and about Rex?
David Niven thought Rex Harrison was a dreary shit, and made a point in one of his autobiographies of mentioning that Rex's cock was very thin and red. I think they picked up hookers together once. Now whenever I see RH I think of a penis that looks like a red licorice stick. Ugh!
R79 i have also sent this to a Doris Day thread.
'The filming of 'Midnight Lace' was traumatic for Doris, especially in the scene in which she had to become hysterical. The 'Method' actress in her-her own method-made her relate back to the time Al Jorden(her first husband)had burst into her room, dragged her from bed and hurled her against the wall...It was all too real-acting was transformed into reality and she fainted after the take. Director David Miller and Marty attended her in her dressing room and she was sent home for a few days to recuperate.
After a light dinner in bed Doris listened to Marty singing some of her favourite Christian Science hymns:this was the Marty she had felt such an empathy with at the beginning of their marriage, and the religion that had so much power to soothe and tranquillize. She slept soundly that night and did not awaken once until morning, when she felt refreshed enough to return to the set, but with the proviso that she should never attempt another film with the same kind of theme. Marty agreed with her and she was able to get through the ordeal. She says how real the concern was everyone showed for her-even Rex Harrison solicitously escorted her to her car after her fainting spell, and she was grateful for his light British sense of humour, which helped to steady her during the more upsetting scenes in the movie.'
From the biography 'Doris Day' by Eric Braun
I know this is counter to accepted wisdom but he completely ruined My Fair Lady for me. Too old and having to talk his way through songs. Ugh.
The chapter on MY FAIR LADY in the Moss Hart bio DAZZLER is well-worth reading if you want more on Harrison's horrible behavior.
His fifth wife, Elizabeth, was married to Irish actor Richard Harris
Rex Harrison was definitely not 100% straight. He had a penchant for men of African descent ... he wined and dined an old African-American boyfriend of mine and for years until had a black valet/manservant.