Nationality: British. Born: Larushka Mischa Skikne in Joniskis, Lithuania, 1 October 1928; emigrated to South Africa, 1934; became British citizen, 1947. Education: Meyerton College and Earl of Atherton High School, Johannesburg, South Africa. Military Service: 1943–1946—served in entertainment unit with South African Army in North African and Italian campaigns. Family: Married 1) Margaret Leighton, 1957 (divorced 1961); 2) Joan Perry Cohn, 1968 (divorced 1972); 3) Pauline Stone, 1972. Career: Stage debut with Johannesburg Repertory Theater in Cottage To Let , 1943; 1946—attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London; performed in repertory theater, Manchester; 1948—film debut in Man on the Run ; 1951—West End stage debut in Hassan ; 1955—Broadway stage debut in The Island of Goats ; 1958—stage directorial debut, Simply Heavenly ; 1963—film directorial debut, The Ceremony. Died: 25 November 1973 of cancer.
Man on the Run (Huntington) (as Detective Sergeant Lawson); House of Darkness (Mitchell) (as Francis Merryman); The Dancing Years (uncredited) (bit part)
The Man From Yesterday (Mitchell) (as John Matthews); Landfall (Annakin) (as P/O Hooper)
Othello (Sheldon—for TV) (as Cassio); Cairo Road (MacDonald) (as Lieutenant Mourad); The Black Rose (Hathaway) (as Edmond)
There Is Another Sun (Gilbert) (as Mag Maguire); The Scarlet Thread (Gilbert) (as Freddie)
A Killer Walks (Drake) (as Ned); Innocents in Paris (Parry) (as Francois); I Believe in You (Dearden) (as Jordie)
Women of Twilight (Parry) (as Jerry Nolan); Knights of the Round Table (Thorpe) (bit part); As You Like It (Ebert —for TV) (as Orlando)
The Good Die Young (Gilbert) (as Miles Ravenscourt); King Richard and the Crusaders (Butler) (as Sir Kenneth); Romeo and Juliet (Castellani) (as Romeo)
I Am a Camera (Cornelius) (as Christopher Isherwood); Storm Over the Nile (Young) (as John Durrance)
Three Men in a Boat (Annakin) (as George)
After the Ball (Bennett) (as Walter de Frece)
The Truth About Women (Box) (as Sir Humphrey Tavistock); The Silent Enemy (Fairchild) (as Lt. Lionel Crabbe)
Room at the Top (Clayton) (as Joe Lampton)
Power Among Men (Polidoro, Hammid, and Sarma) (as Narrator); The Long and the Short and the Tall ( Jungle Fighters ) (Norman) (as Private Bamforth); Espresso Bongo (Guest) (as Johnny Jackson); The Alamo (Wayne) (as Colonel William Travis); Bitterfeld 8 (Mann) (as Weston Lagged)
Two Loves ( Spinster ) (Walters) (as Paul Latrobe); Summer and Smoke (Goldenville) (as John Buchanan Jr.)
A Girl Named Tamiko (Sturges) (as Ivan Kalin); Walk on the Wild Side (Dmytryk) (as Dove Linkhorn); The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal) (as Wilhelm Grimm); The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer) (as Raymond Shaw)
The Ceremony (as Sean McKenna, + d); The Running Man (Reed) (as Rex Black)
The Outrage (Ritt) (as The Husband); Or Human Bondage (Hughes) (as Philip Carey)
Life at the Top (Kotcheff) (as Joe Lampton); Darling (Schlesinger) (as Miles Brand); The Love Goddesses (Turell) (as Narrator)
The Spy with a Cold Nose (Petrie) (as Dr. Francis Trevelyan); The Winter's Tale (Dunlop) (as Leontes)
Rebus (Zanchin) (as Jeff Miller); A Dandy in Aspic (Mann) (as Alexander Eberlin, + co-d uncredited); Fight for Rome (Siodmak) (as Cathegus)
Fight for Rome II (Siodmak) (as Cathegus); He and She (Bolognini) (as He, + pr); The Magic Christian (McGrath) (as Hamlet)
WUSA (Rosenberg) (as Farley); The Deep (Welles) (as Hughie Warriner); Tchaikovsky (Talankin) (as Narrator)
Escape to the Sun (Golan) (as Major Kirsanov)
Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match (Abroms—for TV) (as Emmett Clayton); Night Watch (Hutton) (as John Wheeler)
Welcome to Arrow Beach ( Tender Flesh ) (as Jason Henry, + d)
For for Fake (Welles) (cameo as Himself)
"Laurence Harvey: Following My Actor's Instinct," interview in Films and Filming (London), October 1961.
"An Afternoon with Laurence," interview in Interview (New York), September 1973.
Stone, Pauline, with Peter Evans, One Tear Is Enough , London, 1975.
Hickey, Des, and Smith, Gus, The Prince: Being the Public and Private Life of Larushka Mischa Skikne, a Jewish Lithuanian Vagabond Player, Otherwise Known As Laurence Harvey , London, 1975.
Stanbrook, Alan, "Laurence Harvey," in Films and Filming (London), May 1964.
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Effete, unscrupulous, coldly unemotional, hedonistic, and cad are the words most frequently used to describe the screen persona of this Lithuanian-born, South African-raised British actor who achieved international stardom as the ambitious working class "hero" in Room at the Top , the provocative 1959 film that heralded a bold new direction in the British cinema of the 1950s and 1960s.
Harvey's heartless heartthrob in the film, Joe Lampton, who woos and wins an industrialist's daughter he doesn't love in order to get ahead (and by doing so destroys the woman of his own class he realizes too late that he does love), personified the cautionary "be
Room at the Top paved the way for a host of even grittier "kitchen sink dramas" about British class and sexual warfare such as A Kind of Loving , Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , and This Sporting Life. And Harvey's performance as the upstart Lothario from the other side of the tracks in it was the standard bearer for all the working class rebels with a cause played by Alan Bates, Albert Finney, Tom Courtney, and Richard Harris who followed in Harvey's footsteps.
Harvey repeated the role of Joe Lampton in an equally frank sequel, Life at the Top. The film was less successful than its forbear, however, because it covered no new ground; it just confirmed the details of the empty life in store for Harvey's character at the end of the first film.
Life at the Top was released in 1965, by which time Harvey was already a fixture of many high-profile films made on both sides of the Atlantic such as Butterfield 8, Summer and Smoke (from a Tennessee Williams play) , Walk On the Wild Side, The Outrage (Kurosawa's Rashomon remade as a western), and Darling , director John Schlesinger and writer Frederic Raphael's acid portrait of the London scene in the "swinging Sixties." In each, Harvey played variations on his destructive but appealing heel persona—a persona that made him an unsuitable choice, however, for Of Human Bondage. Harvey was clearly miscast in the part of Somerset Maugham's vulnerable hero Philip Carey, just as he had been early on in his career (and for the same reasons) as Romeo in Castellani's Romeo and Juliet (1954). On the flip side, Harvey's upper class air of almost posturing snobbishness made him an ideal Colonel William Travis, the effete defender of American freedom he played in John Wayne's interminable epic The Alamo , a film where most of the fun (aside from the spectacular final battle) derived from watching Harvey and co-star Richard Widmark go head to head chewing the scenery.
Harvey had his two best roles (apart from Room At the Top ) and gave his two best performances in Val Guest's underrated satire Expresso Bongo , where he played a hilariously smarmy music promoter who maneuvers singer Cliff Richards into the big leagues, and John Frankenheimer's classic The Manchurian Candidate. It is the latter film for which Harvey is today best remembered. He is perfectly cast as the cold fish Raymond Shaw, a Korean War POW brainwashed by the communist Chinese into being a remote-controlled assassin. In many ways, Shaw is the definitive Harvey hero—a character we never actually like but whom we do come to feel for. Ironically, Harvey almost didn't get the part. Producer-star Frank Sinatra's first choice for Shaw was Tony Curtis, but director Frankenheimer insisted on Harvey and fortunately got his way.
Shortly before his premature death of cancer, Harvey may have had another good part as a killer, in this case a psychopathic one, in Dead Reckoning ( The Deep ), a thriller based on Charles William's 1965 novel Dead Calm filmed by Orson Welles in the early 1970s as Harvey's star power was waning. Regrettably, we'll probably never know as the film is reportedly locked up in a vault somewhere, its ownership and its rights tied up in litigation like so many other of Welles's works that remained either unfinished or unreleased at the time of Welles's death in 1985.