George Sanders (1906-1972) b. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Born in St. Petersburg, George Sanders and his affluent family fled to the U.K. during the Russian Revolution. He was educated at Brighton College and after an initial career in the textile industry and a South American tobacco venture, Sanders returned to Britain when it failed. After a number of small theatrical and radio roles he made his film debut as the god ‘Indifference’ in the Alexander Korda production The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936).
Then, after a small number of low budget films in England, he moved to Hollywood during the late 30s. He was cast as Lord Everett Stacy in Lloyds of London (1936) and a number of lead roles in quickie quotas followed. He went on to star in the characterization of Leslie Charteris adventurer the Saint in a pair of back-to-back 1939 features, The Saint Strikes Back and The Saint in London; completing five Saint films in all. Sanders then began work on another adventure series, as suave investigator Gay Lawrence in The Gay Falcon (1941); appearing in three more series entries. After his role as the scheming blackmailer in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), and the same directors Foreign Correspondent (1940), Sanders firmly established him among the Hollywood acting elite with a misogynistic performance in the adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s novel The Moon and Sixpence (1943).
In Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Sanders was lucky enough to steal many a scene whilst spouting Oscar Wilde witticisms when cast as the delightfully cynical Lord Henry Wattonin. After appearing in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), he won his sole Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his venomous role as a cold-blooded theatre critic in another Mankiewicz film, the superb All About Eve (1950). The award earned Sanders roles in such prestigious productions as I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951), Ivanhoe (1952) and Moonfleet (1955).
His career slowly began to wane and after a memorable appearance in cult sci-fi film Village of the Damned (1960), he was often typecast in cameo roles as a stuffy upper-class gent, particularly in Tony Hancock vehicle The Rebel (1960) and Blake Edwards Pink Panther comedy A Shot in the Dark (1964). Despite such visible roles, he will often be remembered for voicing the character of Sher Khan in Disney animated classic The Jungle Book (1967). The film offers dried up and Sanders made his final screen appearance in the horror curio Psychomania (1972). Prior to the films release, Sanders died from an overdose of sleeping pills on August 25, 1972. A suicide note read, "Dear World. I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck." Sanders was married to Susan Larson (divorced), Zsa Zsa Gabor (divorced), Benita Hume (died), and then to Zsa Zsa’s sister Magda Gabor (divorced).