Robert Donat was born in Withington, Manchester on March 18th 1905. He started elocution lessons at age 11 and developed a soft but striking voice that helped him become one of England's leading film stars in the 1930s. When he was 19 he joined the theatre company of Sir Frank Benson and later joined the Liverpool Repertory Theatre.
He shot to fame after playing a romantic role in The Private Life of Henry VIII after which he was rushed to Hollywood to star in The Count of Monte Cristo, however he didn't get on with Hollywood or the star system and he returned to England.
His work in the 1930s included The 39 Steps for Alfred Hitchcock; Knight Without Armour for Alexander Korda, in which he played alongside Marlene Dietrich. In the 1940s Perfect Strangers with Deborah Kerr, again for Alexander Korda, told the story of an ordinary English couple coming to terms with the war and rediscovering each other. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Citadel 1938 and was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his part in Goodbye Mr Chips.
His second wife was the actress Renee Asherson.
He died in 1958 from a cerbral thrombosis brought on by chronic bronchial asthma.
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