Dennis Price

Last updated on the 6 June 2024 by Maeve

Dennis Price headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 23 June 1915, Ruscombe, Berkshire, England. 

Dennis Price’s life defied expectations. Hailing from a military family with a lineage steeped in tradition, a career in the army or church seemed preordained. Yet, the young Price harboured a different dream – the allure of the stage.

Price’s education was a classic upper-class British upbringing. He attended prestigious institutions like Radley College and Worcester College, Oxford. But amidst his studies, he found his calling in the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Here, in 1937, he made his debut alongside the legendary John Gielgud in a production of “Richard II.” This marked the beginning of a lifelong dedication to the performing arts.

Early film appearances followed, with Dennis Price landing roles in movies like “No Parking” (1938). However, the outbreak of World War II put his acting career on hold. He served in the Royal Artillery, returning to the stage and screen after the war. The Noël Coward play “Present Laughter” (1942) offered him a significant platform, showcasing his talent for witty delivery and sophisticated charm.

Kind Hearts and Coronets Dennis Price
Kind Hearts and Coronets – Dennis Price

The 1940s proved to be a pivotal decade for Price. He secured a contract with Ealing Studios, a British film powerhouse known for its witty comedies. This led to his most iconic role: Louis Mazzini in the darkly comedic masterpiece “Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949). Price’s portrayal of the charming, yet ruthlessly ambitious murderer, cemented his reputation as a performer who could excel in both lighthearted and dramatic fare.

The following years saw Price grace the silver screen in a diverse range of films. He played a tormented composer in “The Naked Truth” (1957), a flamboyant villain in “Theatre of Blood” (1973), and the ever-so-competent valet Jeeves in a 1960s television adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse’s classic stories.

Dennis Price’s personal life, however, was marked by struggle. He married actress Joan Schofield in 1939, with whom he had two children. However, his homosexuality, which remained largely hidden from the public eye in that era, ultimately led to their separation in 1950. Coupled with financial troubles, Price’s personal life cast a long shadow over his later career.

In the 1960s, Price sought refuge on the island of Sark, a move that reflected his desire for privacy. He continued to act sporadically, but his career momentum had slowed. Sadly, in 1973, at the age of 58, Price succumbed to alcoholism, a battle he had fought for years.

Dennis Price’s legacy is one of brilliance and contradiction. He was a captivating performer, a master of both comedic timing and dramatic intensity. Yet, his personal struggles and the societal constraints of the time limited his full potential. Despite these challenges, Price remains a fascinating figure in British film history, a testament to the enduring power of an actor who could captivate audiences with a mere glance or a sardonic turn of phrase.


Suggested viewing


Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Kind Hearts and Coronets poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.0

“Kind Hearts and Coronets” follows the darkly comedic tale of Louis Mazzini, a distant heir to a noble family who seeks revenge on his snobbish relatives by eliminating them one by one. Through clever wit and disguises, Louis navigates the complexities of social class while pursuing his ultimate goal of inheriting the family title.

Top cast: Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness, Audrey Fildes, Miles Malleson, Clive Morton, John Penrose.


A Canterbury Tale (1944)

A Canterbury Tale poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.4

“A Canterbury Tale” is a wartime drama set in Kent, England, following three individuals, British soldier Peter Gibbs, American Sergeant Bob Johnson, and land girl Alison Smith, as they uncover a mysterious figure known as the “Glue Man”, in the pilgrimage city of Canterbury.

Top cast: Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, Dennis Price, Sergeant John Sweet, Sgt. Bob Johnson, Charles Hawtrey, Hay Petrie, George Merritt.


Dennis Price full filmography @ Wikipedia
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