Leo G. Carroll

Leo Gratten Carroll (25 October 1886 – 16 October 1972) was an English actor.[1] He was best known for his roles in six Hitchcock films including Spellbound, Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest, and in three television series, Topper, Going My Way, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

Leo G. Carroll
Carroll in 1951
Leo Gratten Carroll

(1886-10-25)25 October 1886
Died16 October 1972(1972-10-16) (aged 85)
Resting placeGrand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California
Other namesLeo Carroll
Years active19121970
Edith Nancy de Silva
(m. 1926)

Early life

Carroll was born in Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire, to William and Catherine Carroll. His Roman Catholic parents named him after then-Pope Leo XIII. In 1897, his family lived in York, where his Irish-born father was a foreman in an ordnance store. In the 1901 Census for West Ham, Essex, his occupation is listed as "wine trade clerk". In the 1911 census, he is living at the same address and described as a "dramatic agent".

Stage career

Carroll made his stage debut in 1912. His acting career was on hold during the First World War, when he served in the British Army. He then performed in London and on Broadway in New York. His American stage debut came in The Vortex.[2] In 1933, he was a member of the Manhattan Theatre Repertory Company in the inaugural season of the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine.

During 1933-34 Carroll had the role of "impeccable valet"[2] Trump in the Broadway play The Green Bay Tree[3] (which has no relation to the novel by Louis Bromfield apart from the shared title), and in 1941 starred with Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn in Patrick Hamilton's Angel Street (better known as Gaslight), which ran for three years at the Golden Theatre on West 45th Street in New York City. After the production closed, he starred in the title role in J. P. Marquand's The Late George Apley.[2]

Films and television

Carroll, who had moved to Hollywood, made his film debut in Sadie McKee (1934). He often played doctors or butlers, but he made appearances as Marley's ghost in A Christmas Carol (1938) and as Joseph in Wuthering Heights (1939). In the original version of Father of the Bride (1950), he played an unctuous wedding caterer. In the 1951 film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel he played a sympathetic German Fieldmarshal Gerd von Rundstedt, presenting him as a tragic, resigned figure completely disillusioned with Hitler.

Carroll is perhaps best known for his roles in six Alfred Hitchcock films: Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959). He appeared in more Hitchcock films than anyone other than Clare Greet (1871–1939) (who appeared in seven) and Hitchcock himself, whose cameos were a trademark. As with earlier roles, he was often cast as doctors or other authority figures (such as the spymaster "Professor" in North by Northwest).

In addition to appearing as Rev. Mosby with actress Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap (1961), Carroll is remembered for his role as the frustrated banker haunted by the ghosts of George and Marion Kerby in the television series Topper (19531956), with costars Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling and Lee Patrick.[4]:1097-1098 He appeared as the older Father Fitzgibbon from 1962 to 1963 in ABC's Going My Way, a series about two Roman Catholic priests at St. Dominic's parish in New York City. In 1963-1964, he portrayed John Miller in Channing on ABC.[4] Carroll subsequently starred as spymaster Alexander Waverly on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (19641968).[4]:650 Several U.N.C.L.E. films were derived from the series, and a spin-off television series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. in 1966.[4]:393 He was one of the first actors to appear in two different television series as the same character. Leo G. Carroll is mentioned in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" opening song "Science Fiction, Double Feature".


In 1972, Carroll died in Hollywood of cancer-induced pneumonia. He is interred at the Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[5]

Selected filmography

With Alfred Hitchcock

As Alexander Waverly (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)


  1. Obituary Variety, 25 October 1972, page 71.
  2. "Leo G. Carroll Still Acting Role He Made Famous in 'The Late George Apley'". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. 23 December 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 20 February 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  3. "Leo G. Carroll". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  5. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 103. ISBN 9780786409839; "Mass Slated Today for Actor Leo G. Carroll". Valley News. 19 October 1972. p. 35.
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