HARRISON, Reginald Carey 'Rex'  [1908-1990]

Harrison was born in Huyton on 5th March 1908, being given the forenames Reginald Carey. He adopted ‘Rex’ as a youth as he thought it had a more raffish flavour. His father was a stockbroker and the Harrisons were clearly well-placed. In the 1911 census we find the 3 year-old Reginald living at his grandmother’s home, Belle Vale Hall in Gateacre, with a significant body of servants to attend to their needs.

Harrison spent his early years in the Sefton Park area, living firstly at 5 Lancaster Avenue and then 110 Hartington Road. He was educated at Birkdale Preparatory School and Liverpool College. Gaining his first acting role with the Liverpool Playhouse in 1924 he then moved to London in 1927, spending some six years in touring repertory. He signed a contract with Alexander Korda at London Films in 1936 and pursued his film career in conjunction with continuing work on the stage. After serving in the RAF (1942-44) he established himself a leading British film star with notable performances in Blithe Spirit (1945) and The Rake's Progress (1945). Moving to Hollywood he had a contract with Twentieth Century Fox which brought him roles in Anna and the King of Siam (1946) and The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947). His continuing theatre work brought him Tony awards for his portrayal of Henry VIII in Anne of a Thousand Days and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. Harrison starred in the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady for which he received an Oscar as Best Actor. Married times, his wives included the actresses Kay Kendall, who died of leukaemia aged just 32, and Rachel Roberts. He was knighted in 1989 and died in New York on 2 June 1990. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over the sea near to the villa he had owned at Portofino.

5 Lancaster Avenue L17

110 Hartington Road L8


Harrison wrote two works of autobiography  Rex: An Autobiography (1974 ISBN 978-0688028817) and Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy (1990 ISBN 978-0593021705 ). There are many sources of information on his career available on then internet.