Nigel Green, South Africa’s Forgotten Movie Hero

Nigel Green’s role of honour as an actor includes some of the most memorable movies of the Sixties and Seventies, he has fast become one of the forgotten characters of stage and screen.

Born in South Africa in 1924, Green was well-known for playing the archetypal stiff upper lipped officers, while his 6 feet 4 inch height and muscular bearing.

As a young actor, Green won a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. And quickly went on to make his debuts on stage, TV and in the movies during the 1950s.

But his promising career was set back, first when called up to serve in the Korean War, where he had a metal plate put in his skull as part of treatment for a head injury. Friends and family say he suffered regular pain and headaches from the injury, which was known to leave him depressed.

Then, in 1956, he was seriously injured in another accident.

Big break

Fortunately, he fully recovered and soon regained his reputation.

The roles that followed included:

  • Fertog ‘The Bear’ in William Tell  (1958)
  • Little John in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)
  • Hercules in Jason and The Argonauts (1963)

Although Green’s career ticked over in the early 1960s, his big break came in Zulu with Michael Caine and Stanley Baker (1964).

He joined up with Michael Caine again in 1965’s Berlin spy caper The Ipcress File and then crossed to Hollywood for Tobruk (1967), The Wrecking Crew (1968) and The Kremlin Letter (1970). 

Mysterious death

His size and appearance also stood him in good stead for horror movies, leading to roles in  The Skull (1965), The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), and Countess Dracula (1971).

Green’s blossoming Hollywood career came to an abrupt end in May 1972.

He was found dead in Brighton, Sussex, after taking an overdose of sleeping tablets at the age of 47 years old. Green died alone in a hotel.

His intention was never discovered, but his family insist his death was an accident.

Green was divorced from actress Patricia Marmont, who he married in 1952. He was separated from his second wife, Pamela Gordon, also an actress, when he died. They had one child.

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