Nigel Green

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Nigel McGown Green
Green in trailer for "The Ipcress File" (1965)
Born (1924-10-15)15 October 1924
Pretoria, South Africa
Died 15 May 1972(1972-05-15) (aged 47)
Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK
Cause of death accidental barbiturate overdose
Years active 1952–1973
Spouse(s) Patricia Marmont
Pamela Gordon (?-1972) (his death) (1 child)

Nigel McGown Green (15 October 1924 – 15 May 1972) was a South African-born English character actor. Because of his strapping build and commanding demeanour he would often be found playing military types and men of action in such classic sixties films as Jason and the Argonauts, Zulu, Tobruk and The Ipcress File.

Early life and career

The son of a professor, Green attended King's College School, Wimbledon and the University of London followed by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During the Second World War, he trained as an Observer in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

He appeared on stage at the Old Vic before making his first forays into British films and television in the mid-1950s.

Film career

Early film roles include Reach for the Sky (1956), The Criminal (1960), The League of Gentlemen (1960), and Beat Girl (1960). His large physique led to his being cast as Little John in the film Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960).

He had one of his most memorable roles as Hercules in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) followed by his co-starring role as Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne in Zulu (1964). He had a leading role as Nayland Smith in The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) and in the supporting role of Major Dalby in The Ipcress File (also 1965) where he played the superior of Michael Caine's secret agent Harry Palmer.

Other roles include Carl Petersen in the Bulldog Drummond movie Deadlier Than the Male (1967), Count Contini in the Matt Helm film The Wrecking Crew (1969) and "Lord Ashley's Whore" in John Huston's The Kremlin Letter (1969).

His strong persona allowed him to play many military roles such as in Khartoum (1966), Tobruk (1967), Fräulein Doktor and Play Dirty (both 1969).

Green also appeared in a number of horror films including Corridors of Blood (1958), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), as the father of Jane Asher's character, The Skull (1965), Let's Kill Uncle (1966) and Countess Dracula (1971).

His last role was as "the Electric Messiah", a mental patient believing himself to be God, in The Ruling Class (1972).

Television career

Television appearances include The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Adventures of William Tell, The Other Man, Danger Man, The Power Game, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, Jason King, The Protectors and The Persuaders!.

Personal life

Green's first wife was the actress Patricia Marmont. His second wife was the actress Pamela Gordon, with whom he had one daughter.

Green died following an overdose of sleeping pills in 1972, aged 47. It is unknown if his death was intentional. Peter O'Toole said on his commentary on The Ruling Class that he believed Green was very depressed, and that his death shortly after filming ended was a suicide, although Green's family believed it to be accidental. He was separated from Gordon at the time.



Year Title Role Notes
1954 The Sea Shall Not Have Them Met Officer Howard
1955 As Long as They're Happy Peter Pember
1956 Reach for the Sky Streatfield
Find the Lady Photographer uncredited
1957 Bitter Victory Private Wilkins
1958 The Gypsy and the Gentleman Game Pup
Corridors of Blood Inspector Donovan
1959 Witness in the Dark The Intruder
Beat Girl Simon
1960 The Criminal Ted
League of Gentlemen Kissing man in truck uncredited
Sword of Sherwood Forest Little John
1961 Gorgo Bulletin Announcer uncredited
Pit of Darkness Jonathan
The Queen's Guards Abu Sibdar
1962 The Spanish Sword Baron Breaute
The Durant Affair Sir Patrick
The Primitives
1963 Mystery Submarine Chief ERA Lovejoy
Jason and the Argonauts Hercules
The Man Who Finally Died Sergeant Hirsch
1964 Zulu Colour Sergeant Bourne
Saturday Night Out Paddy
The Masque of the Red Death Ludovico
1965 The Skull Inspector Wilson
The Ipcress File Dalby
The Face of Fu Manchu Nayland Smith
1966 Khartoum General Wolseley
Let's Kill Uncle The Uncle-Major Kevin Harrison
1967 Tobruk Colonel Harker
Deadlier Than the Male Carl Petersen
The Queen's Traitor John Hawkins
Africa Texas Style Karl Bekker
1968 The Pink Jungle Crowley
Play Dirty Colonel Masters
1969 The Wrecking Crew Count Massimo Contini
Fräulein Doktor Colonel Mathesius
1970 The Kremlin Letter The Whore
1971 Countess Dracula Captain Dobi the Castle Steward
1972 The Ruling Class Mckyle
1973 Gawain and the Green Knight Green Knight


Year Title Role Notes
1952 Suspense Mr Williams
1953 Broadway Television Theatre Prince Sirki of Vitalba Alexa
1956 The Adventure of Robin Hood Prival
1956-57 The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Jailer/2nd thief/farmer
1958 Ivanhoe Timon
1958-59 William Tell Fertog (The Bear)
1959 The Flying Doctor Haggerty
World Theatre Recruiting officer mini series


  • Hall, Sheldon (2014). "Green, Nigel McGown (1924–1972)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94147.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • McGillivray, D. (1988). "Now you know". Films and Filming. London. 34 (April 1988): 47. ISSN 0015-167X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pettigrew, Terence. (1982). British Character Actors. Rowman & Littlefield

External links