Nationality: British. Born: Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, 27 March 1942. Family: Married photographer Patricia McCallum in 1968. Education: Bachelor's Degree in English from Oxford University. Career: 1962–64—appeared in stage productions of Oxford University Dramatic Society; 1964—first professional stage experience, with Dundee Repertory Company; 1965—joined National Theatre Company, first major success in production of Much Ado about Nothing; 1966—first film role, as Lucentio in Zefferilli's Taming of the Shrew; 1968—earns fame in role of Tybalt in Zefferilli's film of Romeo and Juliet; 1973—stars as D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, Broadway debut, in Outcry; 1975—title role in Logan's Run; 1977—portrays John the Baptist in TV film Jesus of Nazareth; 1999—"comeback" roles in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Omega Code; Address: 9100 Cardell Drive, Los Angeles, CA, 90069, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
La Bisbetica Domata (The Taming of the Shrew) (Zefferilli) (as Lucentio); Red and Blue (Richardson); Smashing Time (Davis) (as Tom Wabe); Accident (Losey) (as William)
The Strange Affair (Greene) (as Peter Strance); Romeo and Juliet (Zefferilli) (as Tybalt)
Justine (Cukor) (as Darley); Alfred the Great (Donner) (as Guthrum); The Guru (Ivory) (as Tom Pickle)
Something for Everyone (Black Flowers for the Bride; The Rook) (Prince) (as Konrad Ludwig)
Zeppelin (Perier) (as Geoffrey Richter-Douglas); La Poudre D'Escampette (French Leave; Touch and Go) (deBroca) (as Basil)
Cabaret (Fosse) (as Brian Roberts)
The Three Musketeers (Lester) (as D'Artagnan); Lost Horizon (Jarrott) (as George Conway); England Made Me (Duffell) (as Anthony Farrant)
Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet) (as Count Andrenyi); The Four Musketeers (Lester) (as D'Artagnan)
Conduct Unbecoming (Anderson) (as Arthur Drake)
Logan's Run (Anderson) (as Logan); Seven Nights in Japan (Gilbert) (as Prince George)
The Last Remake of Beau Geste (Feldman) (as Beau Geste); The Island of Doctor Moreau (Taylor) (as Andrew Braddock); Jesus of Nazareth (Zefferilli—for TV) (as John the Baptist)
Fedora (Wilder) (as himself); Much Ado about Nothing (McWhinnie—for TV) (as Benedick); Speed Fever (Morra and Orefici)
A Man Called Intrepid (Carter—for TV) (as Evan Michaelian)
Final Assignment (Almond) (as Lyosha Petrov)
Vendredi ou la Vie Sauvage (Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday) (Vergez—for TV) (as Robinson Crusoe); The White Lions (Stuart) (as Chris McBride)
The Phantom of the Opera (Markowitz—for TV) (as Hartnell); Au Nom de Tous les Miens (For Those I Loved) (Fernandez—for TV) (as Martin Gray)
Success Is the Best Revenge (Skolimowski) (as Alex Rodak); Master of Ballantrae (Hickox—for TV) (as James Durrie)
Space (Phillips and Sargent—for TV) (as Dieter Kolff); L'Aube (The Dawn) (Jancso) (as John Dawson)
Dark Mansions (London—for TV) (as Jason Drake); The Far Country (Miller—for TV) (Carl Zlinter); Sword of Gideon (Anderson—for TV) (as Robert)
Der Joker (Lethal Obsession) (Patzak) (as Dr. Proper); Un Delitto Poco Comune (Off Balance; Phantom of Death) (Deodato) (as Robert Dominici)
Killing Blue (Midnight Cop) (Patzak) (as Karstens); The Four Minute Mile (Goddard) (as Franz Stampfl)
Till We Meet Again (Jarrott—for TV) (as Paul de Lancel); The Lady and the Highwayman (Hough—for TV) (as King Charles II); The Secret of the Sahara (Negrin) (as Desmond Jordan); The Heat of the Day (Morahan) (as Robert); The Return of the Musketeers (Lester) (as D'Artagnan)
Night of the Fox (Jarrott) (as Rommel); Come See the Paradise (Parker) (as Band Leader)
Eline Vere (Kumel) (as Lawrence St. Claire); Rochade (Patzak—for TV) (as Paul Grumbach); The Wanderer (Lewis) (as The Wanderer)
Duel of Hearts (Hough—for TV) (as Gervaise Warlingham); The Long Shadow (Zsigmond) (as Gabor/Raphael Romandy)
David Copperfield (Arioli—for TV) (as Murdstone); Wide Sargasso Sea (Duigan) (as Paul Mason); Discretion Assured (Mendes) (as Trevor)
Fall From Grace (Hussein—for TV) (as Stromelburg); Tekwar: Teklab (Bond—for TV) (as Richard Stewart)
Gospa (Sedlar) (as Milan Vukovic); Not of This Earth (Winkless) (as Paul Johnson); L'Ombra Abitata (Mazzucco); A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Thomas) (as Merlin)
September (Bucksey—for TV) (as Edmund); La Nouvelle Tribu (Vadim—for TV) (as Ilya); Dark Planet (Magnoli) (as Winter); The Ring (Mastroianni) (as Walmar von Gotthard)
The Ripper (Meyers—for TV) (as Charles Warren); Goodbye America (Notz) (as Senator Bladon); True Women (Arthur—for TV) (as Lewis Lawshe); Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (Roach) (as Basil Exposition)
A Knight in Camelot (Young—for TV) (as King Arthur); The Treat (Gems) (as Simon); 54 (Christopher) (as The Ambassador); Wrongfully Accused (Proft) (as Hibbing Goodhue); Lovers and Liars (Freed); Merchants of Venus (Richmond); One Hell of a Guy (Pasternak); Perfect Little Angels (Bond) (as Dr. Calvin Lawrence)
The Omega Code (Marcarelli) (as Stone Alexander); Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Roach) (as Basil Exposition); Ghostly Rental (Marcus) (as Professor Ambrose); The Haunting of Hell House; Puss in Boots (Nibbelink) (as Puss)
Borstal Boy (Sheriden)
By YORK: books—
Accidentally on Purpose: An Autobiography, New York, 1991 (British Title: Travelling Player).
By YORK: articles—
"Getting Right Breaks Just Luck, Actor Michael York Admits," in The Toronto Star, 5 July 1992.
On YORK: articles—
Thompson, Bob, "Michael York's Tale of an Actor's Life," in The San Francisco Chronicle, 31 March 1992.
McLellan, Diana, "Michael York: Life Is a Cabaret," in The Washington Post, 26 April 1992.
Langton, James, "Michael York's Career Revived by Devil Role," in The Sunday Telegraph (London), 14 November 1999.
Davis, Ivor, "Michael York Cracks Hollywood's Longevity Code," in The New York Times, 25 November 1999.
* * *
Michael Johnson knew from an early age that he wanted a career as an actor. This led him, as a young man, to adopt the professional surname of "York" (inspired by a brand of cigarettes). Growing up just outside of London, York had the opportunity of joining the newly-formed National Youth Theatre, which had been founded to give talented children a chance to develop their thespian talents. York continued with acting while a student at England's prestigious Oxford University. His contemporaries in the Oxford Dramatic Society included Michael Palin and Terry Jones, who would later form the famous comedy troupe "Month Python." A few months after graduation, York was on tour with the Dundee Repertory when he learned that Lawrence Olivier (perhaps the greatest actor that Britain had ever produced) was forming the British National Theatre Company. York auditioned, and was one of the first actors accepted. Many of his fellow performers—such as Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellan, Albert Finney, and Lynn Redgrave—would go on to become major figures on the stage and screen York's work with the National Theatre brought him into contact with Italian director Franco Zefferilli, who directed several plays for Olivier's new troupe, including Much Ado about Nothing, which featured York in a prominent role. A year after directing York on stage, Zefferilli cast him in the film version of another Shakespeare work, The Taming of the Shrew. York's performance as Lucentio so impressed his director that Zefferilli called again two years later, offering York the role of Tybalt in the new film version of Romeo and Juliet. Zefferrilli's production proved to be one of the biggest hits of 1968, and young Michael York suddenly found himself considered a movie actor.
Although starring roles in several major films followed, York never gained the international superstar status enjoyed by some of his countrymen (such as Sean Connery and Michael Caine). He did achieve fame for several of his roles in the 1970s—bisexual Brian Roberts in Cabaret (1972), D'Artagnan in Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973), the title character in the futuristic sci-fi film Logan's Run (1976), and John the Baptist in Zefferrilli's made-for-TV epic, Jesus of Nazareth (1977).
But prominent roles in A-list films seemed to elude Michael York throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s. He did, however, keep working regularly, playing mostly supporting roles—in films large and small, on stage in England and the U.S., and in episodic TV. He once described his career philosophy to an interviewer in this way: "Stay around, and stay busy."
However, in the late 1990s, York's film career received a distinct boost, from a couple of unlikely sources. He played Basil Exposition, head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, in two Austin Powers films: Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery (1997) and its sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). The two films, which starred Mike Myers, spoof the 1960s secret agent craze and were highly successful at the box office. In addition, York starred in The Omega Code (1999), an apocalyptic thriller made by a small, Christian-oriented production company operating on a shoestring budget. Despite the lack of a major studio to publicize the film, it was extremely popular among fundamentalist Christians, who were often told about it (and urged to see it) by their local preachers.
Whether his recent box-office successes will lead Michael York back into prominence in the twenty-first century remains to be seen, but it seems likely that, either way, he will continue to follow his own advice: "Stay around, and stay busy."