Howard Marion-Crawford

Howard Marion-Crawford (17 January 1914 24 November 1969),[1] the grandson of writer F. Marion Crawford, was an English character actor, best known for his portrayal of Dr. Watson in the 1954 television adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.[2][3] In 1948, Marion-Crawford had played Holmes in a radio adaptation of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", making him one of the few actors to portray both Holmes and Watson.[4] He is also known for his portrayal of Dr. Petrie in a series of five low budget Dr. Fu Manchu films in the 1960s, and playing Paul Temple in the BBC Radio serialisations.[5]

Howard Marion-Crawford
Howard Francis Marion-Crawford

(1914-01-17)17 January 1914
London, England
Died24 November 1969(1969-11-24) (aged 55)
Chelsea, London, England
Years active1935–69
Spouse(s)Jeanne Scott-Gunn (div.)
Mary Wimbush (1946-1954)


Howard Marion-Crawford was the son of an officer of the Irish Guards killed during the First World War. After attending Clifton College Crawford attended RADA and began a career in radio. His first film appearance was in Brown on Resolution (1935). During the Second World War he enlisted in the Irish Guards, his father's old regiment, but soon suffered a major injury to one of his legs that caused him to be invalided out of the service. After he recovered, he enlisted in the Royal Air Force, where he became a navigator, and rose to the rank of sergeant.[6]

He resumed his acting career in both film in The Rake's Progress (1945) and was a regular broadcaster in BBC Radio Drama including playing the fictional detective Paul Temple in several series by Francis Durbridge.[7] Among his film appearances are the character of Cranford in The Man in the White Suit (1951) and a British medical officer in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).[1] One of his last roles was as another military officer, Sir George Brown, in Tony Richardson's The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).[8]

He often played "blusterers", "old duffers" and upper class military types, appearing as guest performer in television programmes like The Avengers, and three roles with Patrick McGoohan in the television series Danger Man: the 1964 episodes "No Marks for Servility" and "Yesterday's Enemies" and the 1965 episode "English Lady Takes Lodgers".[9]

Personal life

Marion-Crawford was married four times.[10] Early in the Second World War, he was married to Jeanne Scott-Gunn, with whom he had a single son, Harold Francis Marion-Crawford. In 1946, he married the actress Mary Wimbush, with whom he had another son, Charles.[10] His later marriages were to June Elliot and Germaine Tighe-Umbers.

A large man with a very distinctive booming voice, known to his friends and family as "Boney", Howard Marion-Crawford had a lot of talent and acting came easily to him. Unfortunately, this sometimes led to his being unreliable and his later years were a struggle. Plagued by ill health later in life, he died from a mixture of alcohol and sleeping pills in 1969.[11] An inquest recorded accidental death, his doctor stating that "in moments of strife he would go on a drinking bout lasting twenty-four to forty-eight hours".[12]

Selected filmography


  1. "Howard Marion-Crawford". BFI.
  2. "Howard Marion-Crawford (1914 - 1969) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  3. "Television".
  4. "Howard Marion-Crawford".
  5. "The BFI Companion to Crime".
  6. Obituary, The Times November 26, 1969
  7. "Howard Marion-Crawford in 'A CASE FOR PAUL TEMPLE' - Light Programme - 19 March 1946 - BBC Genome".
  8. "The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)".
  9. "Howard Marion-Crawford".
  10. "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008".
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Daily Mirror, 29 November 1969, p.6
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