Distinguished Theatre and Film Critic Jeffrey Lyons to Speak at Boston University’s Salute to Rex Harrison

in Arts, BU In the Community, News Releases
September 26th, 2007

Contact: Erin Whipple, 617-358-1688 | ewhipple@bu.edu

Boston – The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center will host an evening to celebrate the life and career of renowned theatre and film actor Rex Harrison. Held on Monday, October 1, the event will commemorate the centenary of Harrison’s birth and also mark the opening of a retrospective exhibition of his archive. In addition to a reception, the evening will feature an address by the well known theatre and film critic Jeffrey Lyons, who will discuss Rex Harrison’s importance in the stage and screen worlds.

Event Details
Date: Monday, October 1
Time: 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Location: Richards-Frost Room, First Floor, Mugar Memorial Library (771 Commonwealth Avenue)
Admission: Free to BU Students and Friends of the Library members, $25 per person for the public
Contact: For tickets/more information, call 617-353-1218 or email friends@bu.edu

In his role as a film and theatre critic Jeffrey Lyons has interviewed nearly every major movie and Broadway star over the past four decades. His reviews and interviews can currently be seen on Live at Five and NewsChannel 4’s various weekend newscasts. He is also the co-host of the syndicated program Lyons & Bailes Reel Talk. Prior to joining WNBC in 1996, Lyons was co-host of the PBS series Sneak Previews. Among other related positions, he also previously contributed reviews to NBC4 and Today in New York, served as the film and theater critic for ABC World News Now and was entertainment editor for CNBC. A published author, Lyons has served on the Metropolitan Desk of the New York Times, has lectured on baseball at various locations including Fenway Park in Boston and was a guest play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox Radio Network.

An award-winning actor, Rex Harrison enjoyed a career that spanned more than six decades and he became the personification of the sophisticated, debonair Englishman. He is best remembered for his role as Professor Henry Higgins in both the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady. The musical (an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion), opened on Broadway in 1956 and ran for more than 2,700 performances, earning the actor a Tony award. For his work in the 1964 film adaptation, Harrison received a Golden Globe award, a New York Film Critics award, and that year’s Academy Award for best actor.

Born in 1908 in Huyton, Lancashire, England, Rex Harrison began his acting career with the Liverpool Repertory Theatre and made his London debut in a 1930 production of Richard III. His continued stage presence in the 1930s led to notable film roles. In his first American film, Harrison played the king in Anna and the King of Siam (1948), for which he received significant acclaim. Returning to the stage in the late 1940s, Harrison received his first Tony award for his performance in Anne of the Thousand Days. His numerous other credits include the films Major Barbara (1941), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Cleopatra (1963) and Doctor Dolittle (1967), as well as the plays Enrico IV (Henry IV) by Pirandello (1973) and Heartbreak House (1983).

Harrison was knighted in ceremonies at Buckingham Palace in July 1989. He recounted his life as an actor in his 1974 autobiography, Rex; with a second memoir, A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy, published posthumously in 1991.

The exhibition, From Major Barbara to Doctor Dolittle: The Incomparable Career of Rex Harrison takes an extended look at the long, varied and highly acclaimed career of Rex Harrison. Through photographs, correspondence, annotated scripts, memorabilia from theatre and film productions, as well as notes and manuscript pages from Harrison’s own memoirs, the exhibition tracks the actor from his earliest days outside Liverpool to his notable performances on the stages of London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, as well as on screen. The materials in the exhibition were culled not only from Harrison’s collection, but also from those of Irene Mayer Selznick; Roddy MacDowall and Anthony Newley. Rex Harrison’s papers have been part of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University since 1973.

A smaller companion exhibition George Bernard Shaw: From Stage to Screen explores the fascinating and sometimes troubled collaboration between playwright Shaw and Hungarian film director and producer Gabriel Pascal. The pair worked to turn Shaw’s classic stage plays, including Pygmalion, Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra and Androcles and the Lion, into films, several of which featured Rex Harrison.

Following the tribute event, the exhibitions will be open to the public on October 2 for an extended run on display in the Richards-Frost Room on the first floor of Mugar Memorial Library, 771 Commonwealth Avenue. Viewing hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, following the regular University schedule.

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University seeks to capture and document history by collecting the manuscripts from individuals who play significant roles in the fields of journalism, poetry, literature and criticism, dance, music, theater, film, television, and political and religious movements. The Center strives to preserve the documents and make them readily available to researchers while administering all legal copyrights and restrictions. The Center also presents extensive exhibitions, seminars and tours for students, parents, alumni, various visiting groups and members of the public. For more information, email archives@bu.edu, call 617-353-3696 or visit www.bu.edu/archives.

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