Wilfrid Hyde-White

Wilfrid Hyde-White (12 May 1903 – 6 May 1991) was a British character actor of stage, film and television, who achieved international recognition in his later years for his role as Colonel Pickering in the 1964 film version of the musical My Fair Lady.[1]

Wilfrid Hyde-White
Hyde-White in Ada (1961)
Wilfrid Hyde White

12 May 1903
Died6 May 1991(1991-05-06) (aged 87)
Resting placeWater Cemetery, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England
OccupationActor, singer
Years active19341983
Blanche Glynne
(m. 1927; died 1946)

Ethel Drew (m. 1957)
Children3; including Alex Hyde-White

Early life and career

Wilfrid Hyde-White was born in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, England in 1903 to the Rev. William Edward White, canon of Gloucester Cathedral, and his wife, Ethel Adelaide (née Drought). He was the nephew of the actor J. Fisher White.[2] He attended Marlborough College and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He made his stage debut in the farcical play Tons of Money on the Isle of Wight in 1922 and appeared in the West End for the first time three years later in the play Beggar on Horseback.[1] He then gained steady work on the stage in a series of comedies produced at the Aldwych Theatre in London. He joined a tour of South Africa in 1932 before making his film debut in 1934 in Josser on the Farm where he was credited as "Wilfrid Hyde White" (without the hyphen). He also appeared in some earlier films as plain "Hyde White". He later added the hyphen, as well as his first name.

Following a memorable supporting role in The Third Man (1949), he became a fixture in British films of the 1950s. His other films of this period include Carry on Nurse and the Danny Kaye film On the Double.[1] Two-Way Stretch displays the more roguish side to some of the characters he played in this period. He continued to act on the stage and played opposite Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in the repertory performance of Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra in 1951. He also appeared on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1956 for his role in The Reluctant Debutante. His first Hollywood appearance came alongside Marilyn Monroe in the 1960 film Let's Make Love, and this was soon followed by other higher profile films, including My Fair Lady in 1964.[1]

Later career

Between 1962 and 1965, Hyde-White starred in the BBC radio comedy The Men from the Ministry. In the 1970s and 1980s, he featured on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the Battlestar Galactica pilot episode "Saga of a Star World" and The Associates. He continued to appear on Broadway, and earned a second Tony nomination for his performance in The Jockey Club Stakes.[1]

He appeared in two episodes of the mystery series Columbo, starring Peter Falk as the rumpled detective. Although the first, "Dagger of the Mind" (1972), was set in Britain and concerned Columbo paying a visit to Scotland Yard, Hyde-White's ongoing UK tax problems meant that, unlike American actors Falk and Richard Basehart, and British actors appearing in the episode, Honor Blackman, Bernard Fox, John Fraser and Arthur Malet, he was unable to take part in location filming in the UK. His scenes as a butler were therefore filmed in California.[3] His second appearance on Columbo was in the episode "Last Salute to the Commodore" in 1976.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1976 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Goodwood Racecourse.[4]

Personal life

On 17 December 1927, he married Blanche Hope Aitken, a Glamorganshire-born Welsh actress known professionally as Blanche Glynne (1893–1946),[5] who was a decade his senior. The couple had one son. Blanche Glynne died in 1946, aged 53,[6] and Hyde-White remarried, in 1957, to actress Ethel Drew. He and Drew remained married until his death in 1991. The couple had two children, including actor Alex Hyde-White.

Hyde-White had a reputation as a bon viveur, and in 1979 he was declared bankrupt by the Inland Revenue.[1]


Hyde-White died from heart failure on 6 May 1991, six days before his 88th birthday, at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, having lived in the United States for 25 years as a tax exile.[2] His body was returned to England and buried in the family grave at Water Cemetery, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

Complete filmography

Partial television credits


  1. "Wilfrid Hyde White". The Times (64013). London. 8 May 1991. p. 16.
  2. Julian Rollins (7 May 1991). "Gentleman of the stage dies at 87". The Times (64012). London. p. 3.
  3. IMDb profile
  4. Wilfred Hyde-White's appearance on This Is Your Life
  5. 1893 year of birth per census records for Blanche Hope Aitken, Hyde-White's first wife
  6. Blanche White (professional name Blanche Glynne) died in England, aged 53, in 1946, not 1948, as per England and Wales death records at findmypast.co.uk website: Registration District: Chard, County: Somerset, Year of Registration: 1946, Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun, Age at death: 53, Volume No: 5C, Page No: 340
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