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A Year: Day to Day Men: 5th of August, Solar Year 2018

Searching for Socks

August 5, 1887 was the birthdate of John Reginald Owen, the English character actor.

Reginald Owen studied at Sir Herbert Tree’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his professional debut on stage in 1905. When he was still a young actor, he met the author Mrs. Clifford Mills. Upon hearing her idea of a children’s play to be called a Rainbow Story, Owen persuaded her to turn it into a play. This became the play “Where the Rainbow Ends” which opened on December 21st of 1911 starring Owen as Saint George. It received good reviews.

John Reginald traveled to the United States in 1920, originally working on Broadway in New York. He later moved to Hollywood and began a lengthy career in many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions.  Owen is perhaps best known today for his role as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 film version of “A Christmas Carol” , a role he inherited from Lionel Barrymore who suffered a broken hip.

Owen was one of only five actors to play both Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. He first played Watson in the 1932 film “Sherlock Holmes” opposite Clive Brooks. In the 1933 film “A Study in Scarlet”, Owen played Sherlock Holmes opposite Warburton Gamble in the character of Doctor Watson. Owen also has the odd distinction of playing three classical characters of Victorian fiction- Scrooge, Holmes, and Watson- only to have those characters taken over and personified by other actors, namely Alastair Sim as Scrooge, Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as Watson.

Owen appeared, later in his career, on the television series “Maverick” in two episodes and also guest starred in episodes of the series “One Step Beyond” and “Bewitched”. He was featured in the 1964 film “Mary Poppins” and had a small role in the 1962 film production of the Jules Verne novel “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. John Reginald Owen died from a heart attack at age 85 at his home in Boise, Idaho in 1972, after a film career totaling over one hundred films, many of which are today listed as classics- “Of Human Bondage”, “Anna Karenina”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Call of the Wild”.

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