Born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England, and educated at Christ’s Hospital, Michael Wilding was a successful commercial artist when he joined the art department of a London film studio in 1933. He soon embarked on an acting career. He appeared in numerous British films, often opposite Anna Neagle, but had a less productive career in Hollywood. His screen performances included Sailors Three (1940), In Which We Serve (1942), Undercover (1943), Piccadilly Incident (1946), Spring in Park Lane (1948), Stage Fright (1950), Torch Song (1953) and The World of Suzie Wong (1960). In 1952, British exhibitors voted him the fourth most popular star at the local box office. His last appearance was in an uncredited, non-speaking cameo in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972), which co-starred his last wife, Margaret Leighton. Michael Wilding also appeared on television, including the title role in the 1957 episode “The Trial of Colonel Blood” of NBC’s anthology series The Joseph Cotten Show.
Michael Wilding was married four times: to Kay Young (married 1937, divorced 1951), actress Elizabeth Taylor (married 1952, divorced 1957), Susan Nell (married 1958, divorced 1962), and actress Margaret Leighton (married 1964 until her death in 1976). He and Taylor, who was 20 years his junior, had two sons, Michael Howard Wilding (born 1953) and Christopher Edward Wilding (born 1955). In 1957, he had a short-lived romance with actress Marie McDonald, who was nicknamed “The Body”. In the 1960s, he was forced to cut back on his film appearances because of illness related to his lifelong epilepsy. Michael Wilding died in Chichester, West Sussex, as a result of head injuries suffered from a fall down a flight of stairs during an epileptic seizure. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered.
- July, 23, 1912
- United Kingdom
- Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England
- July, 08, 1979
- United Kingdom
- Chichester, West Sussex, England
Cause of Death
- head injury sustained in a fall