Glenville, Peter, 1913-1996

Alternative names
Birth 1913-10-28
Death 1996-06-03
English, French, Italian

Biographical notes:

British stage and film director.

From the description of Peter Glenville Papers, 1914-2001 (bulk 1933-1993). (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 84696414

Peter Glenville was born to a noted theatrical family on 28 October 1913 in London. Peter’s parents Shaun Glenville, an Irish-born comedian, and Dorothy Ward were musical theater performers much-loved for their work in that characteristically-British light musical theater genre known as pantomime, panto for short.

After graduation from Stonyhurst College, Peter Glenville attended Christ Church College, Oxford University, where he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society. In 1934, he became the society’s president and also made his professional stage debut. Over the next several years Glenville was active in the theater and motion pictures as an actor, gradually developing an interest in directing, and leading to his 1944 appointment as director for the Old Vic Company.

After World War II, Glenville met Hardy William Smith (1916-2001). Smith had taken his military discharge from the United States Navy in Britain at the war’s end, intending to pursue a career in the theater there. Glenville and Smith became professional and life partners, with Smith producing and Glenville directing plays for the London stage.

Glenville and Smith soon became active in the theater on both sides of the Atlantic, their 1949 production of The Browning Version being Glenville’s first directorial effort in New York. Notable London and New York productions included The Innocents (1950), Summer and Smoke (1951), Separate Tables (1954), The Prisoner (also 1954), and Hotel Paradiso (1957). A 1955 film version of The Prisoner represented Glenville’s first direction of a motion picture; both versions featured Glenville’s close friend and frequent collaborator Alec Guinness.

After more than a decade of living in London Glenville and Smith moved to New York in 1960 and bought a house at 18 East 68th Street in Manhattan. Through the sixties Peter Glenville was very active in film and theatrical productions in the United States, directing on Broadway Take Me Along (1959-60), Becket (1960), and Dylan (1964), as well as film adaptations of Summer and Smoke (1961), Becket (1964), and Hotel Paradiso (1966). Glenville’s film productions Me and the Colonel (1958) and The Comedians (1967) were not based on earlier Glenville theatrical productions.

Peter Glenville worked on a film version of Man of La Mancha in 1971, but, failing to agree with MGM about the project, he bowed out. Following a Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’s Out Cry (1973) Glenville retired from active theatrical and film work, eventually moving to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he developed a notable colonial estate. Peter Glenville died in New York City on 3 June 1996; Hardy Smith survived him by five years.

From the guide to the Peter Glenville Papers TXRC 06-A3., 1914-2001, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center)


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  • Theatrical producers and directors--Biography
  • Motion picture producers and directors--Biography


  • Actors


  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)