Born in Hampstead, London into a theatrical family, Glenville was the son of Shaun Glenville (born John Browne, 1884–1968), an Irish-born comedian, and Dorothy Ward, both pantomime performers.
Peter Glenville was educated by Jesuits at Stonyhurst College, one of England's leading Catholic public schools, and from there went up to Christ Church, Oxford where he read Jurisprudence. At university, he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) and in 1934, became its President and also made his professional stage debut. Over the next several years, Glenville was active in the theatre and films as an actor, gradually developing an interest in directing, and leading to his 1944 appointment as director for the Old Vic Company.
Peter and William ‘Bill’ Smith flanking New York society columnist Aileen Mehle
Peter Glenville was an English film and stage actor and director. In 1945, Glenville met Hardy William Smith. They became professional and life partners, Glenville as director and Smith as producer of plays in both London and New York. Smith was the humbler and quieter of the two. One friend said Glenville, a Catholic, was against any kind of flamboyant behavior, and "was as strict as a bishop of Boston." It was also suggested that his live-in relationship with Bill was platonic.
Glenville's directorial debut on Broadway was Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version (1949). Other notable productions which followed included The Innocents (1950), the stage adaptation of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which starred Douglass Watson, Jack Hawkins and marked the Broadway debut of Olivia de Havilland (1951), Rattigan's Separate Tables (1954), The Prisoner (1954), and Georges Feydeau's Hotel Paradiso (1957). Glenville directed the 1955 film version of The Prisoner, his film directorial debut. Both the play and the film starred his friend Alec Guinness.
In the 1960s, Glenville and Smith moved from London to New York and continued to work in the theatre and in films. From that period was the musical Take Me Along (1959–60), based on Eugene O'Neill's play Ah, Wilderness!, with Jackie Gleason, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Morse, Una Merkel and Eileen Herlie. In 1960, Glenville also directed Barbara Bel Geddes and Henry Fonda in Silent Night, Lonely Night by Robert Anderson.
In 1961, he directed Jean Anouilh's play Becket which starred Laurence Olivier as Thomas Becket and Anthony Quinn as Henry II. An erroneous story arose in later years that during the run, Quinn and Olivier switched roles and Quinn played Becket to Olivier's King. Critic Howard Taubman, in his book The Making of the American Theatre, supports this story, as does a biographer of Laurence Olivier. In fact, Quinn left the production for a film, never having played Becket, and director Glenville suggested a road tour with Olivier as Henry. Olivier happily acceded and Arthur Kennedy took on the role of Becket for the tour and brief return to Broadway.
In 1962–63, he directed Quinn and Margaret Leighton in Tchin-Tchin. This was followed by the musical Tovarich (1963) with Vivien Leigh and Jean-Pierre Aumont. For Dylan, based on the life of Dylan Thomas (1964), Glenville worked once again with his frequent collaborator, Sir Alec Guinness. He also directed Edward Albee's adaptation of Giles Cooper's play Everything in the Garden (1967), John Osborne's A Patriot for Me (1969) with Maximilian Schell, Salome Jens and Tommy Lee Jones in his Broadway debut, and Tennessee Williams' Out Cry (1973).
He also directed the films Me and the Colonel (1958) with Danny Kaye, Summer and Smoke (1961) with Geraldine Page and Laurence Harvey, Term of Trial (1962) with Laurence Olivier, Simone Signoret and Sarah Miles, Becket (1964) with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole, Hotel Paradiso (1966) with Guinness and Gina Lollobrigida and The Comedians (1967) with Elizabeth Taylor, Burton, Guinness and Peter Ustinov.
In 1970 Glenville directed another new Terence Rattigan play in the West End, A Bequest to the Nation and in 1971 began work on the film project of Man of La Mancha, but when he failed to agree with United Artists on the production, he bowed out. In 1973 he directed the original production of Tennessee Williams's Out Cry, after which he retired and eventually moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Glenville was nominated for four Tony Awards, two Golden Globe Awards (Becket and Me and the Colonel), one Academy Award (Becket) and one Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Term of Trial.
He died in New York City, aged 82, from a heart attack.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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