LAURENCE HARVEY (born Zvi Mosheh Skikne/ d: 1973) was a Lithuanian-born British actor and film director. He was born to Lithuanian Jewish parents and emigrated to South Africa at an early age, before later settling in the United Kingdom after World War II. In a career that spanned a quarter of a century, Harvey appeared in stage, film and television productions primarily in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Known for his clipped, refined accent and cool, debonair screen persona; his performance in Room at the Top resulted in an Academy Award nomination. That success was followed by the roles of William Barret Travis in The Alamo and Weston Liggett in Butterfield 8, both films released in the autumn of 1960. He also appeared as the brainwashed Sergeant Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate. He made his directorial debut with The Ceremony. He continued acting into the 1970s, until his sudden death in 1973 of cancer.
Harvey was nominally bisexual. Frank Sinatra‘s assistant, George Jacobs, author of Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra, recounts that Harvey often made passes at him while visiting Sinatra. According to Jacobs, Sinatra, who starred with Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate, was aware of Harvey’s bisexuality and did not care. Sinatra charmingly joked: “He has the three handicaps of being a homo, a Jew, and a Polack, so people should go easy on him.”
Harvey himself was quoted about his personal style, “I’m a flamboyant character, an extrovert who doesn’t want to reveal his feelings”, he said. “To bare your soul to the world, I find unutterably boring. I think part of our profession is to have a quixotic personality.”
He met Hermione Baddeley, an established actress, when they were cast in the film There Is Another Sun in 1950. She became his “live-in” partner and a lucky charm for his career. She introduced him to Basil Dean and his first part on the London stage in Hassan, followed by a season at Stratford in 1952 with Glen Byam Shaw.
In his memoir Close Up: An Actor Telling Tales, British actor John Frasier writes that Harvey was not really bi, but full time gay, and that his longtime lover was his manager James Wolfe who had “discovered” Harvey in the 1950s.
Baddelly introduced him to Woolf, of Romulus Films. He became his mentor, manager and lover, over the next fourteen years. He made Laurence Harvey a star. Harvey left Baddeley in 1952 for actress Margaret Leighton, who was then married to publisher Max Reinhardt. Leighton and Reinhardt divorced in 1955, and she married Harvey in 1957 off the Rock of Gibraltar. The couple divorced in 1961.
In 1968 he married Joan Perry, the widow of film mogul Harry Cohn. Her marriage to Harvey lasted until 1972.
His third marriage was to British fashion model Paulene Stone. She gave birth to their daughter Domino in 1969 while he was still married to Perry. Harvey and Stone married in 1972 and soon after, he adopted her child from her previous marriage, Sophie Norris (now Sophie Harvey). The wedding took place at the home of Harold Robbins.
In his account of being Frank Sinatra’s valet, Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra (2003), George Jacobs writes that Harvey often made passes at him while visiting Sinatra. According to Jacobs, Sinatra was aware of Harvey’s sexuality. In his autobiography Close Up (2004), British actor John Fraser claimed Harvey was gay and that his long-term lover was Harvey’s manager James Woolf, who had cast Harvey in several of the films he produced in the 1950s.
After working in two films with her, Harvey remained friends with Elizabeth Taylor for the rest of his life. Elizabeth Taylor, people. I mean really…do we have to spell it out?