One of the theatre's greatest legends, Sir John Gielgud spent almost 80 of the 96 years of his life appearing in countless plays that saw him portray every major Shakespearean role. The last surviving member of a generation of classical actors that included Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, and Ralph Richardson, Gielgud worked up to a month before his death, performing in over 50 films and numerous television productions when he wasn't busy with his stage work.
The grandnephew of famed stage actress Ellen Terry, Gielgud was born in London on August 14, 1904. He received his education at Westminster School and would have studied to be an architect had he not rebelled against his parents by announcing his plans to be an actor. Persuading his parents to let him train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Gielgud promised them that if he had failed to make a stage career by the age of 25, he would become an architect.