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Maurice Evans (actor)

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Title: Maurice Evans (actor)  
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Subject: Planet of the Apes (1968 film), The Brotherhood of the Bell, Kind Lady (1951 film), The War Lord, Macbeth (1960 film)
Collection: 1901 Births, 1989 Deaths, 20Th-Century English Male Actors, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, American Military Personnel of World War II, British Military Personnel of World War II, Delia Austrian Medal Recipients, Disease-Related Deaths in England, English Expatriates in the United States, English Male Film Actors, English Male Stage Actors, English Male Television Actors, Male Shakespearean Actors, Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Primetime Emmy Award Winners, People from Dorchester, Dorset, United States Army Officers
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Maurice Evans (actor)

Maurice Evans
Evans in 1956
Born Maurice Herbert Evans
(1901-06-03)3 June 1901
Dorchester, Dorset, England, UK
Died 12 March 1989(1989-03-12) (aged 87)
Rottingdean, East Sussex, England, UK
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1926–1983

Maurice Herbert Evans (3 June 1901 – 12 March 1989) was a British-American[1] actor noted for his interpretations of Shakespearean characters. In terms of his screen roles, he is probably best known as Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes and as Samantha Stephens' father Maurice in Bewitched.


  • Early years 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Publication 4
  • Death 5
  • Selected filmography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early years

Evans was born at 28 Icen Way (where there is now a memorial plaque, unveiled in 2013 by his great-great niece) in Dorchester, Dorset, England, to Laura (Turner) and Alfred Herbert Evans, a dispensing chemist and keen amateur actor who made adaptations of novels by Thomas Hardy for the local amateur company. Hardy lived in Dorchester and thought highly of Evans's adaptations and productions. Young Maurice made his first stage appearance as a small boy in "Far from the Madding Crowd".[2] He first appeared on the stage in 1926 at the Cambridge Festival Theatre and joined the Old Vic Company in 1934, playing Hamlet, Richard II and Iago.

He was selected by Terence Gray to appear in the opening production in November 1926 at the Festival Theatre, taking the part of Orestes in two parts of the sensational production of the The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice, Don Juan in the play of the same title by James Elroy Flecker, two parts in Terence Gray's own play The Red Nights of the Tcheka, the Stage Manager in The Player Queen, also by W. B. Yeats, the Second Engineer in The Insect Play by the Čapek brothers, Prince Kamose in another Gray play called And in the Tomb and finally in June 1927 Don Pelegari in Pirandello's Each In His Own Way. Both Yeats and Shaw attended performances of their own plays.


In 1927, he was one of a group of out-of-work actors including St. Joan.

Evans reprised his Broadway role in Dial M for Murder for a 1958 Hallmark Hall of Fame television presentation. Also pictured are John Williams and Rosemary Harris.

When the U.S. entered the Shaw, notably as John Tanner in Man and Superman and as King Magnus in The Apple Cart. In 1952, he starred as the murderous husband in the original stage-play version of Dial M for Murder. He was also a successful Broadway producer of productions in which he did not appear, notably The Teahouse of the August Moon. In 1956, Evans recorded an LP of stories from Winnie-the-Pooh. American television audiences of the 1960s will remember Evans as Samantha's father, Maurice, on the sitcom Bewitched. His real-life insistence that his first name was pronounced the same as the name "Morris" was ironically at odds with his Bewitched character's contrasting stance that it be pronounced "Maw-REESE". Evans also appeared in the fourth season of Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker playing a French impresario "Beaumarchais." He also played "The Puzzler" on Batman.

Evans had great impact onscreen as well. He played a diabolical villain in 1951's Kind Lady, co-starring Ethel Barrymore and Angela Lansbury. Evans appeared memorably in two 1968 films: as the evolved orangutan, Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes (and the 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes) and as the doomed "Hutch", who attempts to warn his friend, the title character, Rosemary Woodhouse, in the thriller Rosemary's Baby, of the true Satanic nature of her neighbours, Roman and Minnie Castavet (played by Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon).

Evans as Richard II.

Evans appeared in more American television productions of Shakespeare than any other actor. Beginning in 1953, for the famous television anthology, Hallmark Hall of Fame, he starred in the first feature-length (i.e., longer than an hour) dramatisations of the plays to ever be presented on American television. They were:

In bringing so much Shakespeare to American television in such a short span of time (between 1953 and 1960), he was a true pioneer. This had never been tried before – at least, not in the U.S. Evans firmly believed that it was an actor's job to "lead public taste, not to play to public taste".[4] Evans also brought his Shakespeare productions to Broadway many times, playing Hamlet on the Great White Way in four separate productions for a record grand total of 283 performances. He and Judith Anderson also starred on Broadway several times in Macbeth. Their portrayals were once regarded as the definitive portrayals of these characters, although one dissenter was Orson Welles, who in Peter Bogdanovich's book This Is Orson Welles, said that Evans, as an actor was "worse than bad – he was poor".[5] (Welles himself starred in and directed a film version of Macbeth, a version which was a critical and financial disaster in its day, but is now highly regarded.)

Not only did Evans appear on Broadway as Hamlet four times, but the productions of the play that he appeared in were consecutive revivals of it – no other actor played Hamlet on Broadway between 1938, when Evans first played him there, and 1946, which marked Evans's last Broadway Hamlet. He is very likely the only actor to have accomplished this, so far.[6][7][8][9]

Personal life

At the end of the 1960s, Evans returned to Britain. Aside from an infrequent trip to the United States and occasional visits to retired actors in financial need (as a representative of the Actors' Fund, of which he was a longtime trustee), he lived quietly in the Sussex countryside, near Brighton.[10] He never married, and was survived by a brother, Hugh, of London.


  • All This and Evans Too, memoir, University of South Carolina Press 1987, ISBN 978-0872494961


Evans died of heart failure as a result of a bronchial infection, at aged 87 in Rottingdean, East Sussex, England.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Petition for Naturalization as a United States citizen,; accessed 20 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Maurice Evans Biography". Film Reference. 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  3. ^ "Search". Television Academy. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Maurice Evans, Stage Actor, Dies at 87". The New York Times. 14 March 1989. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  5. ^ " This Is Orson Welles (9780306808340): Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum: Books". Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  6. ^ The Broadway League. "Hamlet – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  7. ^ The Broadway League. "Hamlet – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  8. ^ The Broadway League. "Hamlet – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  9. ^ The Broadway League. "Hamlet – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  10. ^ New York TimesObituary in

External links

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