RONALD COLMAN: A Very Private Person by Juliet Benita Colman

RONALD COLMAN: A Very Private Person

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This is the kind of portrait of Ronald Charles Colman you might expect from his screen performances -- ""basically diffident"" notwithstanding his gentlemanly charm. The son of a silk merchant, Colman was a British Steamship Co. accountant who dabbled in amateur theatricals before going off to war with the London Scottish Regionals. After being wounded in action in 1914, he ""collided with the theater"" and into a loveless first marriage (as a result of which he became even more aloof toward women). Subsequently launched in films with his appearance opposite Lillian Gish in The White Sister, the actor became one of Sam Goldwyn's romantic leading men, pairing off with Vilma Banky, Blanche Sweet or the Talmadge sisters. Successful with his silent efforts -- The Dark Angel, Stella Dallas, Beau Geste -- Colman made it ""safely across the sound barrier"" as Bulldog Drummond (could one fail with that voice of his?). ""Ronnie"" later left Goldwyn and divorced his wife whereupon he prospered in the company of a compatible second mate and some memorable scripts (A Tale of Two Cities, Lost Horizon, The Light That Failed, Random Harvest, and A Double Life for which he received a Best Actor Oscar). Described by John Ford as ""the greatest actor I have ever known,"" Colman in real life possessed neither the immaturity of a Valentino nor the flamboyance of a Flynn. The subject -- a man ""born for motion pictures"" according to George Cukor -- is convincingly reconstructed here by his only daughter. The right amount of sentiment and research makes this a most fitting gesture.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1975
Publisher: Morrow