Alastair Sim

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Alastair Sim, CBE (9 October 1900 – 19 August 1976) was a Scottish character actor who appeared in a string of classic British films. He is best remembered in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 film Scrooge, and for his portrayal of Miss Fritton, the headmistress in two St. Trinian's films. He was famously described by comedian Ronnie Corbett as a "sad-faced actor, with the voice of a fastidious ghoul", in Corbett's autobiography High Hopes.


Early life

Alastair Sim was born in Edinburgh in 1900. His mother had been born on the island of Eigg, and when she came to the mainland in her teens she could speak only Gaelic. His father, Alexander Sim, was a prosperous businessman with property in Braemar and Edinburgh. He designed and paid for the construction of the Earl Haig Gardens in Edinburgh for the use of returning servicemen to sit in during the day.

Alastair Sim was educated at the independent George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. He became an elocution and drama lecturer at the University of Edinburgh from 1925 until 1930, where he was later rector from 1948 until 1951. He once remarked to an interviewer, "As I passed imperceptibly from a beautiful child to a strong and handsome lad, I wanted more than anything else in the world to be, of all things, a hypnotist. I practised on gentle dogs."[1]

Acting career

Preferring the stage, Sim made his London debut in Othello in 1930. He also appeared for a season at the Old Vic. He notably portrayed Captain Hook in six different stage productions of Peter Pan between 1941 and 1968.

He made his film debut in 1935 in The Case of Gabriel Perry, and spent the remainder of the decade playing supporting roles in films, often being credited with "stealing the scene" from the star. As a supporting actor, his most notable success was as Detective Sergeant Bingham, a light comedy role played opposite Gordon Harker, in the popular Inspector Hornleigh film series: Inspector Hornleigh (1939), Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday (1939), and Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It (1941). He outshone Harker to the extent that it was frequently unclear who was actually the star.

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