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Dirk Bogarde Biography


Dirk Bogarde was born on March 28th 1921 in Hampstead, England. He was of Dutch descent, his original name being Derek Van den Bogaerde. His mother was a former actress and his father was the editor of the newspaper The Times. Dirk had a sister named Elizabeth and later on his mother bore another son named Gareth. Lally, often mentioned by Dirk, was the beloved nurse of the Bogaerde children. Dirk began a career as a scenic designer and commerical artist but wanted to act instead. In the late 1930's Dirk joined the army as an officer in Air Photographic Intelligence. His army carrier took him to places like Germany, India, Malaya and Java. (Dirk's fiction book 'A Gentle Occupation' is a semi-biographical/fictional account of his experinces in Java) When he returned he immediately joined a small theatre group, and he was quickly noticed and given a few small parts in films, signing a contract with Rank.

In the late forties Dirk was in such movies as Ester Waters, Quartet, Boys in Brown. It wasn't until Dirk appeared in Basil Dearden's The Blue Lamp, where he portrayed a small-time crook, that Dirk really began to get noticed by the press. In the early fifties Dirk continued his film work in So Long at the Fair, The Woman in Question and the much lauded Hunted in 1952. More 'trenchcoat' -running roles followed in films like The Gentle Gunman and Desperate Moment. His breakthrough role ironically came in a comedy Doctor in the House, where he played the innocent Simon Sparrow. A range of roles continued to come his ways, from Losey's Sleeping Tiger to Simba to Cast a Dark Shadow. The doctor roles kept coming as well in Doctor at Sea and Doctor at Large. At this time Dirk had become a home-grown matinee idol, with school-girls picketing his house, screaming audiences at his appearances, and fan mail galore. Being an eligible bachelor only lent more fervor to the craze. Dirk dealt with his fame with the utmost grace and aloofness, never letting it get to his head. Being Britain's heartthrob lead him to such romantic roles in movies like A Tale of Two Cities, Libel, Doctor's Dilemma, The Spanish Gardner and Hollywood's Song without End.

By this time, circa 1960, Dirk was getting restless. He felt at his age he was outgrowing his pop-idol status. He began to search for more challenging and interesting roles, beginning with the magnificent Victim, which dealt with the controversial subject of homosexuality. Other roles like Damn the Defiant, The Singer not the Song, the Mind Benders, and I Could go on Singing followed, but Dirk continued his hunt for the appropriate collaborater. In 1963 he was paired with director Joseph Losey and it was a perfect match. Films with Losey in the 1960's included The Servant, King and Country, Modesty Blaise and The Accident . These films and the movie Darling helped Dirk to gain actual critical acclaim, and he began to be known as one of Britains most talented actors. His matinee pop-idol tag was now an addendum to a much lauded acting career. In the later sixties Dirk would work with another well-known director, Luchino Visconti, on The Damned and Death in Venice.

In the seventies Dirk semi-retired in France but continued to choose interesting roles in films like The Night Porter, Providence, Permission to Kill and Despair in 1977. Dirk also began to write books, something he had longed to do throughout his career but had never found the time. Dirk would write several biographies and also many fiction books, even publishing a book of letters. Dirk has shown not only an incredible acting talent but also a vivid and moving talent as a writer. In the late 1980's Dirk moved back to London to live a very private, quiet life. He also became actively involved in the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, a subject which Dirk felt very strongly about ( see the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of the UK Home Page and Dirk's Views on Euthanasia ) In 1990 Dirk would act in his last film appearance in the French film Daddy Nostalgia.

Dirk Bogarde 1921-1999

[So Long at the Fair]

SIR DIRK BOGARDE, the British film legend, died on May 8,1999 at the age of 78 after suffering a heart attack at his home in London. His ashes were scattered in France.

I can't even begin to describe how saddened I am by Dirk's death. I know he has gone to a better place, and that his suffering from the past few years has ended. But what a great loss to the world this is! Dirk has described in so many books to us countless thoughts and emotions he has had throughout his life. Now, in the final journey he has made, I wonder to myself how Dirk would have described it. I'm sure it would have been confronted with undaunted humor and optimism, and maybe a little bit of poetic sadness. I guess we will never know. But he has left behind so many wonderful movies, so many poignant books and stories, that I feel he will never really leave us. May he rest in peace. Please feel free to leave a message in his honor on the Main Page Guestbook.

'Good night sweet prince...'
May 10 1999


Autobiographies (some of these are also available on audio cassette ): Most of these are out of print or very hard to find in the USA, but apparently they are fairly easy to find in England. Dirk has a magical, humorous, detailed way of writing, and once you start one of his books it is very hard to put them down. He is an especially keen observer of people and distinct details, almost as if he has a photographic memory. He is refreshingly honest about his own life and the people he has met along the way.

"A Postilion Struck by Lightening" by Dirk Bogarde
"Snakes and Ladders" by Dirk Bogarde
"An Orderly Man" by Dirk Bogarde
"A Particular Friendship" by Dirk Bogarde
"Great Meadow" by Dirk Bogarde
"Backcloth" by Dirk Bogarde
"A Short walk from Harrods" by Dirk Bogarde
"Cleared for Take Off" by Dirk Bogarde
"For the Time Being" by Dirk Bogarde

"A Gentle Occupation" by Dirk Bogarde
"Jericho" by Dirk Bogarde
"West of Sunset" by Dirk Bogarde
"Voices in the Garden" by Dirk Bogarde
"Closing Ranks" by Dirk Bogarde

Other Sources
"Dirk Bogarde: Rank Outsider" by Sheridan Morley(1996)--amazing biography with great pics and good analysis of Bogarde's influential and unusual career as a film star and British icon.
"Dirk Bogarde: the Complete Career Illustrated"
by Robert Tanitch (1988)--a gorgeous collection of Dirk film stills with some well written film reviews and criticism, although some of the comments seem a little too biting. It is obvious this book is written by a critic, not a fan.
"The Cinema of Dirk Bogarde" by Margaret Hinkman and Susan d'Arcy(1974)--an extensive filmography and a great collection of pictures from each of Dirk's films, plus some nice candids.
"Losey on Losey" by Tom Milne--Losey's own commentary on his films, along with some good photos of Dirk from his various Losey projects.
"The Films of Joseph Losey" by James Palmer and Michael Riley--covers such Dirk films as The Servant, King and Country and the Accident with great in-depth analogies.
"Joseph Losey : A Revenge on Life" by David Caute--more personal information about Dirk in relation to Joseph Losey. Some very scathing Dirk quotes about the Burtons, Losey and other things in this!

Novels adapted to the Screen --some interesting reading for those that want a more in depth look at some of the characters Dirk has played on-screen.

"Death in Venice"
by Thomas Mann
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens
"Justine" by Lawrence Durrell
"Despair" by Vladimir Nabakov
"The Singer not the Song"
by Audrey E Lindop
"The Spanish Gardner" by A J Cronin
"The Accident" by Nicholas Mosley

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