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York, Michael (1942-)


Main image of York, Michael (1942-)

Michael York first acted with the National Youth Theatre before joining OUDS while at Oxford, graduating in 1964. His blond, blue-eyed boyish looks and plummy accent incarnated a traditionally English public-school manliness, which Joseph Losey exploited in York's first screen role as the doomed aristocrat William in Accident (1967).

Then, as Tybalt in Franco Zeffirelli's innovative Romeo and Juliet (UK/US, 1968), he demonstrated a sinewy athleticism rare amongst English actors. He used this quality to great effect as Viking chieftain Guthrum in Alfred the Great (d. Clive Donner, 1969), and D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (Panama, d. Richard Lester, 1973) and sequel The Four Musketeers (Panama/Spain, d. Lester, 1974)

Although York continued to play derring-do heroes in The Last Remake of Beau Geste (US, d. Marty Feldman, 1977) and as the quintessentially English Charles Carruthers in The Riddle of the Sands (d. Tony Maylam, 1979), he also performed convincing variations on the introspective, bored, dissipated or disillusioned Englishman in Justine (US, d. George Cukor, 1969), Cabaret (US, d. Bob Fosse, 1972), England Made Me (d. Peter Duffell, 1972) and Conduct Unbecoming (d. Michael Anderson, 1975).

In the '80s and '90s, he played supporting or cameo roles and became familiar to younger audiences as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers films (US, d. Jay Roach, 1997, 1999, 2001).

Autobiography: Travelling Player, 1991.

Andrew Spicer, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Accident (1967)Accident (1967)

A fatal car accident triggers an intense psychological drama

Thumbnail image of Great Expectations (1975)Great Expectations (1975)

Michael York stars as Pip in the first colour version of Dickens' classic novel

Thumbnail image of Murder on the Orient Express (1974)Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Star-studded adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery

Thumbnail image of Jesus of Nazareth (1977)Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Robert Powell plays Jesus Christ in Franco Zeffirelli's famous miniseries

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