George Henry Sanders was an English film and television actor best known for his roles of Addison DeWitt in the 1950 film All About Eve as well as the villainous tiger Shere Khan in The Jungle Book.
Sanders was born in Saint Petersburg, Imperial Russia at number 6 Petrovski Ostrov. His English parents were Henry Sanders and Margaret Sanders. His elder brother was actor Tom Conway. His younger sister Margaret Sanders was born in 1912. Sanders was 11 when, in 1917 at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, the family went back to England. Like his brother he attended Brighton College, a boys’ independent school in Brighton, Sussex, then went on to Manchester Technical College. After graduation he worked at an advertising agency where the company secretary, aspiring actress Greer Garson, suggested he take up a career in acting.
Sanders made his British film debut in 1929. Seven years later, after a series of British films his first role in an American production was Lloyd’s of London as Lord Everett Stacy. His smooth, upper-crust English accent and sleek British manner along with a suave, snobbish and somewhat threatening air put him in demand for American films throughout the next decade. He played supporting roles in high end productions such as Rebecca. He had leading roles in somewhat lower budget pictures such as Rage in Heaven. He was also the lead in both The Falcon and The Saint film series. In 1942 Sanders handed off the Falcon role to his brother Tom, in The Falcon’s Brother. The only other film in which the two brothers appeared together was Death of a Scoundrel, in which they also played brothers.
Sanders played Lord Henry Wotton in the 1945 film version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. In 1947 he co-starred with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. That same year he gave one of his most critically noted performances starring with Angela Lansbury in director Albert Lewin’s little-known film taken from an 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. He and Lansbury also featured in Cecil B. deMille’s biblical epic Samson and Delilah in 1949.