45 Farquhar Rd, Dulwich, London SE19 1SS, UK
Stowe Maries, Balchins Ln, Westcott, Dorking RH4 3LR, UK
Leslie Howard Steiner (3 April 1893 – 1 June 1943) was an English actor and film maker. He also wrote many stories and articles for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair and was one of the biggest box-office draws and movie idols of the 1930s. Active in both Britain and Hollywood, Howard is probably best remembered for playing Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). He had roles in many other notable films, often playing the quintessential Englishman, including Berkeley Square (1933), Of Human Bondage (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936), Pygmalion (1938), Intermezzo (1939), "Pimpernel" Smith (1941), and The First of the Few (1942). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Berkeley Square and Pygmalion. Howard's World War II activities included acting and filmmaking. He was active in anti-German propaganda and shoring up support for the Allies—two years after his death the British Film Yearbook described Howard's work as "one of the most valuable facets of British propaganda". He was rumoured to have been involved with British or Allied Intelligence, sparking conspiracy theories regarding his death in 1943 when the Luftwaffe shot down BOAC Flight 777 over the Atlantic (off the coast of Cedeira, A Coruña), on which he was a passenger.
Howard married Ruth Evelyn Martin (1895–1980) in March, 1916, and their children Ronald "Winkie" and Leslie Ruth "Doodie" who appeared with her father and David Niven in the film The First of the Few, playing the role of nurse to David Niven’s character, and as a major contributor in the filmed biography of her father, "The Man Who Gave A Damn". His son became an actor and played the title role in the television series Sherlock Holmes (1954). His younger brother Arthur was also an actor, primarily in British comedies. His sister Irene was a costume designer and a casting director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His sister Doris Stainer founded the Hurst Lodge School in Sunningdale, Berkshire in 1945 and remained its headmistress until the 1970s. Howard was widely known as a "ladies' man", and he once said that he "didn't chase women but … couldn't always be bothered to run away". He reportedly had affairs with Tallulah Bankhead when they appeared on stage in the UK in Her Cardboard Lover (1927), with Merle Oberon while filming The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), and with Conchita Montenegro, with whom he had appeared in the film Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931). There were also rumours of affairs with Norma Shearer and Myrna Loy during filming of The Animal Kingdom. Howard fell in love with Violette Cunnington in 1938 while working on Pygmalion. She was secretary to Gabriel Pascal who was producing the film; she became Howard's secretary and lover, and they travelled to the United States and lived together while he was filming Gone with the Wind and Intermezzo (both 1939). His wife and daughter joined him in Hollywood before production ended on the two films, making his arrangement with Cunnington somewhat uncomfortable for everyone. He left the United States for the last time with his wife and daughter in August, 1939, and Cunnington soon followed. She appeared in "Pimpernel" Smith (1941) and The First of the Few (1942) in minor roles under the stage name of Suzanne Clair. She died of pneumonia in her early thirties in 1942, just six months before Howard's death. Howard left her his Beverly Hills house in his will. The Howards' family home in Britain was Stowe Maries, a 16th-century, six-bedroom farmhouse on the edge of Westcott, Surrey. His will revealed an estate of £62,761. An English Heritage blue plaque was placed at 45 Farquhar Road, Upper Norwood, London in 2013.
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