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Robert Newton

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Cause of death  Heart attack
Role  Film actor
Name  Robert Newton

Years active  1932-1956
Occupation  Actor
Parents  Algernon Newton
Robert Newton THE ROBERT NEWTON KWIZ Anvil in a Lace Bootie

Born  1 June 1905 (1905-06-01) Shaftesbury, Dorset, England
Resting place  Ashes scattered in the waters of Mount's Bay, Cornwall
Died  March 25, 1956, Beverly Hills, California, United States
Spouse  Vera Budnik (m. 1952–1956)
Children  Kim Newton, Sally Newton, Nicholas Newton
Movies  Treasure Island, Long John Silver, Blackbeard the Pirate, Oliver Twist, Odd Man Out
Similar People  Kay Walsh, Byron Haskin, John Howard Davies, David Lean, Leslie Banks


Arr! "Talk Like a Pirate" Lessons Direct from the Cap'n

Robert Newton (1 June 1905 – 25 March 1956) was an English stage and film actor. Along with Errol Flynn, Newton was one of the most popular actors among the male juvenile audience of the 1940s and early 1950s, especially with British boys. Known for his hard drinking lifestyle, he was cited as a role model by the actor Oliver Reed and the Who's drummer Keith Moon.


Robert Newton Similarities and Resemblances in Off Topic Discussions Forum

Newton is best remembered for his portrayal of the feverish-eyed Long John Silver in the 1950 film adaptation of Treasure Island, the film that became the standard for screen portrayals of historical pirates. He would continue to portray Blackbeard in 1952 and Long John Silver again in the 1954 film of the same name, which spawned a miniseries in the mid '50s. Hailing from Dorset in the West Country of Southern England, his exaggeration of his West Country accent is credited with popularising the stereotypical "pirate voice". Newton has become the "patron saint" of the annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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Early life

Robert Newton Robert NewtonAnnex

Robert Guy Newton was born in Shaftesbury, Dorset, a son of the landscape painter Algernon Newton, R.A. He was educated in Lamorna near Penzance, Cornwall, then at Exeter School and St Bartholomew's School in Newbury, Berkshire.

Early stage career

Robert Newton Robert Newton The Official Licensing Website of Robert Newton

His acting career began at the age of 16 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1921. He appeared in many repertory shows until he went to Canada where he worked on a cattle ranch for a year.

Robert Newton Robert Newton The Official Licensing Website of Robert Newton

He returned to England and performed in many plays in the West End of London, including Bitter Sweet by Noël Coward, The Letter with Gladys Cooper, and Cardboard Lover with Tallulah Bankhead.

Robert Newton A Tribute to Actor Robert Newton 19051956

He also appeared in Private Lives on Broadway, taking over the role from his friend Laurence Olivier.

Robert Newton A Tribute to Actor Robert Newton 19051956

From 1932 to 1934, he was the manager of the Shilling Theatre in Fulham, London. He had a small role in the film Reunion (1932).

Alex Korda

Newton was put under contract to Alexander Korda who cast him in small roles in Fire Over England (1937), Dark Journey (1937), Farewell Again (1937) and The Squeaker (1937). He also had a part as Cassius in the abandoned version of I, Claudius and in 21 Days (shot in 1937, released 1940). Newton was borrowed by 20th Century Fox for The Green Cockatoo (1937).

Newton had a good role supporting Charles Laughton in Vessel of Wrath (1938). He had another strong part in Yellow Sands (1939) and had his first film lead in Dead Men are Dangerous (1939). He made another with Laughton, Jamaica Inn (1939), playing the romantic male lead, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

In 1939, he played Horatio to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet at the Old Vic, in a production that also included Alec Guinness and Michael Redgrave.

Newton kept busy as a film actor, appearing in Poison Pen (1939) and Hell's Cargo (1939).

World War II

Newton continued primarily as a supporting actor in films: Gaslight (1940), Busman's Honeymoon (1940), Bulldog Sees It Through (1940), Channel Incident (1940) and Major Barbara (1941), directed by Gabriel Pascal from the play by George Bernard Shaw.


Newton got another chance as a star in Hatter's Castle (1942), opposite Deborah Kerr and James Mason. He consolidated his status by playing opposite Anna Neagle in the Amy Johnson biopic They Flew Alone (1942), playing Jim Mollison.

He enlisted in the Royal Navy on board HMS Britomart, which served as an escort ship on several Russian convoys. He served as an able seaman for two and a half years and was medically discharged in 1943.

He then played the lead in This Happy Breed (1944), a role turned down by Noel Coward and Robert Donat. Directed by David Lean, it was a huge hit. So too was the Laurence Olivier version of Henry V (1944), in which Newton played Ancient Pistol. These appearances helped British exhibitors vote him the 10th most popular British film star of 1944.

During the war, he starred in the West End in No Orchids for Miss Blandish, which was a hit.

Postwar career

Newton had the star role in a thriller Night Boat to Dublin (1946), then had a showy cameo role in Odd Man Out (1947); this performance was later immortalised in Harold Pinter's play Old Times. He stayed in leads for Temptation Harbour (1947) and Snowbound (1948). Lean cast him as Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist (1948), a huge success critically and commercially.

Newton then made a series of films with Hollywood stars and/or financing: Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948), a noir with Joan Fontaine and Burt Lancaster; Obsession (1949), a thriller directed by Edward Dmytryk, playing an acid murderer.

Most notably he played Long John Silver in Walt Disney's version of Treasure Island (1950), with Bobby Driscoll and directed by Byron Haskin. This was a big hit in Britain and widely seen in the US. Less well known is Waterfront (1950).

His final performance on stage was in the 1950 production of Gaslight with Rosamund John at the Vaudeville Theatre.


Treasure Island 's success prompted Newton to relocate to Hollywood. He was one of several British actors in Soldiers Three (1951), an Imperial adventure tale. He returned to Britain for Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951) to play Thomas Arnold, then was cast by 20th Century Fox as Javert in their version of Les Misérables (1952). In 1951 he was voted the sixth most popular British star in Britain.

Gabriel Pascal used him in another Shaw adaptation, Androcles and the Lion (1952). It was made by RKO who cast Newton in the title role of Blackbeard the Pirate (1952).

Fox asked him back for a war film, The Desert Rats (1953), playing a drunken school teacher who discovers bravery during World War Two. He was one of several names in an airplane disaster movie The High and the Mighty (1954).

Final films

Back in Britain, Newton was given the lead in The Beachcomber (1954), a remake of Vessels of Wrath, this time in the part originally played by Charles Laughton.

He again played Long John Silver in a 1954 Australian-made film, Long John Silver. It was shot at Pagewood Studios, Sydney and directed by Byron Haskin, who had directed Treasure Island. The company went on to make a 26-episode 1955 TV series, The Adventures of Long John Silver, in which Newton also starred. While filming in Australia in 1954, Newton was declared bankrupt with debts in the UK of £47,000.

His last screen appearance was as Inspector Fix in Around the World in 80 Days (1956), which turned out to be one of the most popular films of the decade.


Newton suffered from chronic alcoholism and died in 1956, aged 50, following a heart attack in Beverly Hills, California.

He had married four times and had three children: Sally Newton (born 1930), Nicholas Newton (born 1950), and Kim Newton (born 1953). His third marriage ended when he had a nervous breakdown in 1951. He brought his son to Hollywood in 1951 and was accused of kidnapping him. He married his fourth wife, Vera Budrick, in June 1952. They had a son, Kim, born 1953.

After some court battles, Newton's elder son was placed in the custody of his aunt and uncle.

He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Years later, his son Nicholas Newton scattered his father's ashes in the sea in Mount's Bay, Cornwall, near Lamorna in the south western tip of England, where he had spent his childhood.

Box office rankings

For several years, Newton was voted by exhibitors as among the most popular British stars at the local box office:

  • 9th in 1947
  • 5th in 1950 (10th most popular overall)
  • 7th in 1951
  • References

    Robert Newton Wikipedia