SIR ALEC GUINESS, British actor, died (b: 1914); Guinness married the artist, playwright, and actress, Merula Salaman in 1938, and they had a son in 1940, Matthew Guinness, who later became an actor. In his biography Alec Guinness: The Unknown, Garry O’Connor reveals that Guinness was arrested and fined 10 guineas for a homosexual act in a public lavatory in Liverpool in 1946. Guinness avoided publicity by giving his name as Herbert Pocket to both police and court.
The name Herbert Pocket was taken from the character in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations that Guinness had played on stage in 1939 and was also about to play in the film adaptation. The incident did not become public knowledge until April 2001, eight months after his death. The authenticity of this incident has been doubted, however, including by Piers Paul Read, Guinness’s official biographer, who believes that Guinness was mixed up with John Gielgud, who was infamously arrested for such an act at the same period of time, though Read nonetheless acknowledges Guinness’s essential bisexuality.