Last year, Michael York celebrated his fiftieth year as a professional actor, having accumulated an impressive body of work on screen, stage, television, and with audio recording. He retains the enthusiasm for the actor’s life he first experienced growing up in England where, joining the National Youth Theatre, he played Shakespeare in London and Europe, going on to perform extensively at Oxford University, graduating with an MA in English.
He joined Laurence Olivier’s new National Theatre Company in 1965, shortly afterwards making his film debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. He was also Tybalt in Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet and John the Baptist in his Jesus of Nazareth.
York’s nearly 60 other screen credits include Joseph Losey’s Accident, Bob Fosse’s Cabaret with Liza Minnelli, Something for Everyone with Angela Lansbury, the all-star Murder on the Orient Express, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, as d’Artagnan in The Three(and The Four) Musketeers, the title role in Logan’s Run, and opposite Burt Lancaster in The Island of Dr. Moreau. He even played himself in Billy Wilder’s Fedora. He filmed For Those I Loved in English and French, was in all three Austin Powers movies and both Omega Code films. His most recent film is The Mill and the Cross.
His television work includes The Forsyte Saga, Great Expectations, Space, The Heat of the Day, A Knight in Camelot, The Night of the Fox, The Far Country, The Lot (Emmy nomination), Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. A guest character in The Simpsons, he most recently starred in The Four Seasons and narrated the documentary, Mary Pickford: Muse of the Movies.
Broadway and regional theater credits include Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Bent, The Crucible, Ring Round the Moon, the world premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Out Cry, and the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac. He starred in the musical The Little Prince and toured the US in Camelot, playing King Arthur. He most recently appeared in a concert performance of My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center in 2013.
York’s distinctive voice can be heard in more than 90 audio book and film narrations as varied as The Book of Psalms, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, The Vampire Lestat, and his own children’s book, The Magic Paw Paw. Grammy-nominated for Treasure Island, he won awards for The Fencing Master, Creating True Peace, Goodbye to Berlin, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Recent recordings include Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals.
The narrator of The Word of Promise audio Bible, York’s latest recordings include Cry, The Beloved Country, Alice in Wonderland, and Earth Songs. His collaboration with composer Michael Hoppe on Prayers: a personal selection, a follow up to their How Do I Love Thee, was an Audie Award Finalist for 2012.
In addition to performing with music at the Kennedy Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Aspen, Bard, and Ravinia Festivals, York starred in the first concert performance of William Walton’s Christopher Columbus. He played the title role in a concert version of Peer Gynt and Salieri in a staged version of Amadeus, also at the Bowl.
His recording of the Tennyson/Strauss Enoch Arden was followed by several international concert performances, most recently in Prague. He has also headlined Strauss Meets Frankenstein and Intimate Letters with the Long Beach Opera. In early 2010 he performed the Walton/Shakespeare Henry V with Sir Neville Marriner and the Nashville and Detroit Symphonies. He was the narrator in the 2011 Christmas Concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In 2011, he starred in "Lisztian Loves" with pianist Andre Watts at the Ravinia Festival.
He has recorded many plays for radio, both in the US and UK, his latest credit being "The Browning Version" for BBC4 in 2012.
York also enjoys writing. In 1991 he published an autobiography, Accidentally on Purpose (Simon & Schuster), titled Travelling Player in the UK. The Associated Press enthused, “Michael York inherits the mantle of his fellow countryman, David Niven, as a premiere storyteller.”
He also coauthored with Adrian Brine A Shakespearean Actor Prepares (Smith and Kraus, 2000), a finalist in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. It was hailed by the Spectator as “a triumph... it deserves to become a classic.”
His Dispatches from Armageddon (Smith and Kraus, 2001) was reviewed by Prof. Richard Brown as “one of the most readable, literate, and insightful works ever written on the process of making movies.”
His latest book, Are My Blinkers Showing: filmmaking in the new Russia (Da Capo Press, 2005), received great reviews including, from the Los Angeles Times. “What a delight. Ahh, the actor’s life, well used.”
York’s wife Pat is a celebrated photographer. The couple met in 1967 when she was assigned to photograph him. Married a year later, they have made their home in Los Angeles since 1976.
Pat has exhibited her work all over the world, in Moscow, New York, Paris, London, Washington, Cologne, Basel, Zurich, Belgium, Abu Dhabi and Poland. Her show Imaging and Imagining: the film world of Pat York opened at LA’s Motion Picture Academy, subsequently traveling to Prague, Mannheim and Hong Kong. Her latest book is Fame and Frame.
York also lectures internationally on Shakespeare and the history and art of acting. He has also taught Master Classes, most recently at U.S.C.
His contribution to his profession has been recognized with the award of Britain’s OBE, France’s Arts et Lettres, and, not least, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Last Updated June 2014