David Tomlinson

David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson (7 May 1917 – 24 June 2000) was an English stage, film and television actor and comedian. Having been described as both a leading man and a character actor, he is primarily remembered for his roles as authority figure George Banks in Mary Poppins, fraudulent magician Professor Emelius Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and as hapless antagonist Peter Thorndyke in The Love Bug. Tomlinson was posthumously inducted as a Disney Legend in 2002.

David Tomlinson
Tomlinson as George Banks in Mary Poppins, 1964
David Cecil MacAlister Tomlinson

(1917-05-07)7 May 1917
Died24 June 2000(2000-06-24) (aged 83)
Years active1940–1980
Mary Lindsay Hiddingh
(m. 1943; her death 1943)

Audrey Freeman
(m. 1953; his death 2000)
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1940–1945
RankFlight Lieutenant
UnitFilm Unit
Battles/warsSecond World War

Early life

Tomlinson was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 7 May 1917,[1] to Florence Elizabeth Tomlinson (née Sinclair-Thomson) (1890–1986) and a well-respected London solicitor father Clarence Samuel Tomlinson (1883–1978).[2] He attended Tonbridge School and left to join the Grenadier Guards for 16 months.[2] His father then secured him a job as a clerk at Shell Mex House.

His stage career grew from amateur stage productions to his 1940 film debut in Quiet Wedding. His career was interrupted when he entered Second World War service as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. During the war, he served as a flight instructor in Canada and appeared in three more films.[2] His flying days continued after the war. On one occasion he crashed a Tiger Moth plane near his back garden after he lost consciousness while flying.

Film career

David Tomlinson was best known for his role as George Banks, head of the Banks family, in the Disney film Mary Poppins (1964). Mary Poppins brought Tomlinson continued work with Disney, appearing in The Love Bug (1968) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Throughout the rest of Tomlinson's film career, he never steered far from comedies. His final acting appearance was in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), which was also the final film of Peter Sellers. Tomlinson retired from acting at age 63 to spend more time with his family.[3] However in 1992 at the age 75 he appeared on the Wogan show along with Tommy Cockles (Simon Day).

Personal life and death

Tomlinson was first married to Mary Lindsay Hiddingh, daughter of L. Seton Lindsay, the vice president of the New York Life Insurance Company. She had been widowed in 1941 when her husband, Major A.G. Hiddingh, was killed in action, leaving her to care for their two young sons. Tomlinson married Mary in September 1943, but on 2 December 1943 she killed herself and her two sons in a murder-suicide by jumping from a hotel in New York City.[4]

Tomlinson's second wife was actress Audrey Freeman (born 12 November 1931), whom he married on 17 May 1953, and the couple remained together for 47 years until his death. They had four sons: David Jr., William, Henry and James.[5]

Tomlinson died peacefully in his sleep at King Edward VII's Hospital, Westminster, at 4 a.m. on 24 June 2000, after suffering a sudden stroke.[6][5] He was 83 years old. He was interred at his estate grounds in Mursley, Buckinghamshire.



  • The Birdcage Room (TV Film) (1954) - Lord Tempest
  • All for Mary (Outside Broadcast of the theatre production, 1954) - Clive Norton
  • Theatre Royal (1955) - episode - The No Man - Tom Pettigo
  • Theatre Night (1957) - episode - Dear Delinquent - David Warren
  • ITV Play of the Week (1960) - episode - The Happy Man - Tom Swinley
  • Comedy Playhouse (1967) - episode - Loitering With Intent - Charles Pinfold
  • Hawaii Five-O (1976) - episode - Nine Dragons - Blake

See also


  1. General Register Office of England and Wales – Birth Register for June Quarter of 1917, Henley Registration District, reference 3a 1531, listed as David C.M. Tomlinson, mother's maiden name as Sinclair-Thomson
  2. "David Tomlinson". The Telegraph. 26 June 2000.
  3. "Whatever happened to the cast of Mary Poppins?". The Telegraph. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  4. "Mother and Two Sons Plunge 15 Stories to Death in New York City" (PDF). Niagara Falls Gazette. Associated Press. 2 December 1943. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  5. "Mary Poppins Star Dies". BBC News. 24 June 2000.
  6. General Register Office of England and Wales – Death Register for June 2000, Westminster Registration District, reference C49C 281, listed as David Cecil Tomlinson with a date of birth of 7 May 1917.

Further reading

  • Luckier Than Most, Tomlinson's autobiography, published in 1990.
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