Maurice Evans born 3 June 1901 (d. 1989)
Maurice Herbert Evans was an English actor who became a US citizen in 1941.
Maurice Evans was born in Dorchester, Dorset. He first appeared on the stage in 1926 and joined the Old Vic Company in 1934, playing Hamlet, Richard II and Iago. His first appearance on Broadway was in Romeo and Juliet opposite Katharine Cornell in 1936, but he made his biggest impact in Shakespeare's Richard II, a production whose unexpected success was the surprise of the 1937 theatre season and allowed Evans to play Hamlet (1938) (the first time that the play was performed uncut on the New York stage), Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I (1939), Macbeth (1941), and Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1942) opposite the Viola of Helen Hayes, all under the direction of Margaret Webster.
When World War 2 arrived, he was in charge of an Army Entertainment Section in the Central Pacific and played his famous 'G.I. version' of Hamlet that cut the text of the play to make Prince Hamlet more decisive and appealing to the troops, an interpretation so popular that he took it to Broadway in 1945. He then shifted his attention to the works of Shaw, notably as John Tanner in Man and Superman and as King Magnus in The Apple Cart. He was also a successful Broadway producer of productions in which he did not appear, notably Teahouse of the August Moon.
American television audiences of the 1960s will remember Evans as Samantha's father, Maurice (the character was originally named Victor when he was introduced), on the sitcom Bewitched. He also played "The Puzzler" on Batman. Many viewers were unaware of Evans' extraordinary Shakespearean pedigree. His real-life insistence that his first name was pronounced the same as the name 'Morris' was ironically at odds with his Bewitched character's contrasting stance that it be pronounced 'Maw-REESE'.
As of 2006, Evans had appeared in more American television productions of Shakespeare than any other actor. In bringing Shakespeare to television, he was a true pioneer. Evans also brought his Shakespeare productions to Broadway many times, playing Hamlet in 4 separate productions for a grand total of 283 performances, a Broadway record that is not likely to be broken.
Evans had great impact onscreen as well, memorably in two 1968 films: as the evolved orang-utan, Dr Zaius in Planet of the Apes and as Rosemary's friend Hutch in the thriller Rosemary's Baby.
In his later years, Evans returned to the English country of his birth and died of cancer in East Sussex, England, aged 87.
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