Geoffrey Keen (1916-2005) b. Wallingford, Surrey, England.
Geoffrey Keen was a hardworking character actor specialising in impatient military commanders and other authority figures. The son of Malcolm Keen, a distinguished Shakespearean stage actor, Keen’s parent’s marriage collapsed before his birth and from an early age he grew up with his mother in Bristol, where he made his professional stage debut in School for Scandal at the Little Repertory Theatre. After being accepted as a student at the London School of Economics he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, but his acting career was disrupted by WWII during which Keen was a corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
During the war, he appeared on screen in Carol Reed’s military short The New Lot (1943). When hostilities ended Reed helped Keen get his film career under way with small roles in Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948) and The Third Man (1949). After appearing in The Third Man (1949), he secured his biggest role to date, as the agitator Harry Bolger in Bernard Miles’ Chance of a Lifetime (1951). Keen went on to appear as priest in Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), the motorcycle policeman in Genevieve (1953), the shipping agent The Maggie (1954), Killearn in Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue (1954) and the dean in Doctor in the House (1954), the first of three films he made in the popular comedy series.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) was the first of six Bond films in the 1970s and 1980s in which he played the acerbic Minister of Defence Frederick Gray, who strongly disapproved of Bond’s seemingly cavalier approach to the job. The Living Daylights (1987) signalled his retirement at the age of 71.