Howard as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939)
Leslie Howard Steiner
3 April 1893
|Died||1 June 1943 (aged 50)|
At sea in the Bay of Biscay
|Cause of death||Killed in action (aircraft shootdown)|
|Known for||Professor Higgins in Pygmalion (1938);|
Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939)
Ruth Evelyn Martin (m. 1916)
|Children||2, including Ronald Howard|
Leslie Howard Steiner (3 April 1893 – 1 June 1943) was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. He also wrote many stories and articles for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair and was one of the biggest box-office draws and movie idols of the 1930s.
Howard is probably best remembered for playing Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). He had roles in many other notable films, including Berkeley Square (1933), Of Human Bondage (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936), Pygmalion (1938), Intermezzo (1939), "Pimpernel" Smith (1941), and The First of the Few (1942). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Berkeley Square and Pygmalion.
Howard's World War II activities included acting and filmmaking. He was active in anti-German propaganda and rumoured to have been involved with British or Allied Intelligence, sparking conspiracy theories regarding his death in 1943 when the Luftwaffe shot down BOAC Flight 777 over the Bay of Biscay (in Cedeira, A Coruña), on which he was a passenger.
Howard was born Leslie Howard Steiner to a British mother, Lilian (née Blumberg), and a Hungarian Jewish father, Ferdinand Steiner, in Upper Norwood, London. Lilian had been brought up as a Christian, but she was of partial Jewish ancestry--her paternal grandfather Ludwig Blumberg, a Jewish merchant originally from East Prussia, had married into the English upper-middle classes.
He received his formal education at Alleyn's School, London. Like many others around the time of the First World War, the family anglicised its name, in this case to "Stainer", although Howard's name remained Steiner in official documents, such as his military records.
He was a 21-year-old bank clerk in Dulwich when the First World War broke out; in September 1914 he voluntarily enlisted (under the name Leslie Howard Steiner) as a Private with the British Army's Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in London. In February 1915 he received a commission as a subaltern with the 3/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry Regiment, with which he trained in England until 19 May 1916, when he resigned his commission and was medically discharged from the British Army with neurasthenia.
Howard began his professional acting career in regional tours of Peg O' My Heart and Charley's Aunt in 1916-17 and on the London stage in 1917, but had his greatest theatrical success in the United States in Broadway theatre, in plays such as Aren't We All? (1923), Outward Bound (1924) and The Green Hat (1925). He became an undisputed Broadway star in Her Cardboard Lover (1927). After his success as time traveller Peter Standish in Berkeley Square (1929), Howard launched his Hollywood career in the film version of Outward Bound, but didn't like the experience and vowed never to return to Hollywood. However, he did return, many times--later repeating the Standish role in the 1933 film version of Berkeley Square.
The stage, however, continued to be an important part of his career. Howard frequently juggled acting, producing and directing duties in the Broadway productions in which he starred. Howard was also a dramatist, and starred in the Broadway production of his own play Murray Hill (1927). He played Matt Denant in John Galsworthy's 1927 Broadway production Escape in which he first made his mark as a dramatic actor. His stage triumphs continued with The Animal Kingdom (1932) and The Petrified Forest (1936). He later repeated both roles in the film versions.
Howard loved to play Shakespeare, but according to producer John Houseman he could be lazy about learning lines. He first sprang to fame playing in Romeo and Juliet (1936) in the role of the leading man. During the same period he had the misfortune to open on Broadway in Hamlet (1936) just a few weeks after John Gielgud launched a rival production of the same play that was far more successful with both critics and audiences. Howard's production, his final stage role, lasted for only 39 performances before closing.
In 1920 Howard suggested forming a film production company, British Comedy Films Ltd., to his friend Adrian Brunel. The two eventually settled on the name Minerva Films Ltd. The company's board of directors consisted of Howard, Brunel, C. Aubrey Smith, Nigel Playfair and A. A. Milne. One of the company's investors was H. G. Wells. Although the films produced by Minerva--which were written by A. A. Milne--were well received by critics, the company was only offered £200 apiece for films it cost them £1,000 to produce and Minerva Films Ltd. was short-lived. Early films include four written by A. A. Milne, including The Bump, starring C. Aubrey Smith; Twice Two; Five Pounds Reward; and Bookworms, the latter two starring Howard. Some of these films survive in the archives of the British Film Institute.
Following his move to Hollywood, Howard often played stiff upper lipped Englishmen. He appeared in the film version of Outward Bound (1930), though in a different role from the one he portrayed on Broadway. He had second billing under Norma Shearer in A Free Soul (1933), which also featured Lionel Barrymore and future Gone With the Wind rival Clark Gable six years prior to their Civil War masterpiece. He starred in the film version of Berkeley Square (1933), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He played the title character in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934).
When Howard co-starred with Bette Davis in The Petrified Forest (1936) - having earlier co-starred with her in the film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's book Of Human Bondage (1934) - he reportedly insisted that Humphrey Bogart play gangster Duke Mantee, repeating his role from the stage production. This re-launched Bogart's screen career, and the two men became lifelong friends; Bogart and Lauren Bacall later named their daughter "Leslie Howard Bogart" after him. In the same year Howard starred with Norma Shearer in a film version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Davis was again Howard's co-star in the romantic comedy It's Love I'm After (1937) (also co-starring Olivia de Havilland). He played Professor Henry Higgins in the film version of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (1938), with Wendy Hiller as Eliza, which earned Howard another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, but went almost ignored in Britain. In 1939, as war approached, he played opposite Ingrid Bergman in Intermezzo; that August, Howard was determined to return to the country of his birth. He was eager to help the war effort, but lost any support for a new film, instead being obliged to relinquish £20,000 of holdings in the USA before he could leave the country.
Howard is perhaps best remembered for his role as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939), his last American film, but he was uncomfortable with Hollywood, and returned to Britain to help with the Second World War effort. He starred in a number of Second World War films including 49th Parallel (1941), "Pimpernel" Smith (1941) and The First of the Few (1942, known in the U.S. as Spitfire), the latter two of which he also directed and co-produced. His friend and The First of the Few co-star David Niven said Howard was "...not what he seemed. He had the kind of distraught air that would make people want to mother him. Actually, he was about as naïve as General Motors. Busy little brain, always going."
During wartime Howard made documentaries with Noël Coward for the BBC, typically in From the Four Corners (1942), in which he eulogised on the principles of defending the British Commonwealth. "To hell", he said of his critics. He took to directing also with "Pimpernel" Smith (1941), after years of experience with technical cameramen. The film was a big success in Britain and USA, but was deemed as deliberate attempt at propaganda. In throwing down the challenge to the Nazis, some critics have said the film spelt a death sentence to his career. He lived with Violette Cunnington at the weekend, now his girlfriend on the set of Pimpernel. In 49th Parallel (1941) he delivered the famous lines, "So that's how you are, Nazis!" The first of his nearly death-defying films came in 1942 with The First of the Few. R. J. Mitchell was the designer of the famous fighter aeroplane that featured in a romantic film that glorified the heroism of Mitchell's role. Mitchell's death was over-played and non-factual, but made more of the circumstances.(Matthew Sweet, film critic.). His son Ronald Howard worked in the Royal Navy during the war. His daughter married a Royal Canadian Army officer, Robert Dale-Harris. Howard's attitude was "marry that dull young man", and so she did in 1943. Howard then directed The Gentle Sex (1943). His biographer Quentin Falk believed the shock of Violette Cunnington's death was total and devastating. Another biographer, American Professor Robert Wheeler, believed that the cultural expedition to Spain through the British Council was an effort to contribute more to the war effort, after his lover had gone. On 1 June 1943, his flight was arranged for Flight 777; some people were asked to depart. Howard was late, and stopped to buy stockings for a lady friend. They flew over the Bay of Biscay, but were shadowed by enemy aircraft, "tapped by enemy aircraft" in the last message. The plane was shot down over the sea. On board were three VIPs: Ivan Sharp, Economic Warfare Ministry man; Mr Shervington, Director of Shell Oil and Chief of Secret Service; Wilfred Israel, Head of getting Jews out of Europe, Spain station. Subsequent biographers have tried to explain the theory that the Nazis targeted the civilian flight.
Howard married Ruth Evelyn Martin (1895-1980) in March, 1916, and they had children Ronald "Winkie" and Leslie Ruth "Doodie" who appeared in with her father and David Niven in the film "The First of the Few, playing the rôle of nurse to David Niven's character, and as a major contributor in the filmed biography of her father, "The Man Who Gave A Damn". His son became an actor and played the title role in the television series Sherlock Holmes (1954). His younger brother Arthur was also an actor, primarily in British comedies. His sister Irene was a costume designer and a casting director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His sister Doris Stainer founded the Hurst Lodge School in Sunningdale, Berkshire in 1945 and remained its headmistress until the 1970s.
Howard was widely known as a "ladies' man", and he once said that he "didn't chase women but ... couldn't always be bothered to run away". He reportedly had affairs with Tallulah Bankhead when they appeared on stage in the UK in Her Cardboard Lover (1927), with Merle Oberon while filming The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), and with Conchita Montenegro, with whom he had appeared in the film Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931). There were also rumours of affairs with Norma Shearer and Myrna Loy during filming of The Animal Kingdom.
Howard fell in love with Violette Cunnington in 1938 while working on Pygmalion. She was secretary to Gabriel Pascal who was producing the film; she became Howard's secretary and lover, and they travelled to the United States and lived together while he was filming Gone with the Wind and Intermezzo (both 1939). His wife and daughter joined him in Hollywood before production ended on the two films, making his arrangement with Cunnington somewhat uncomfortable for everyone. He left the United States for the last time with his wife and daughter in August, 1939, and Cunnington soon followed. She appeared in "Pimpernel" Smith (1941) and The First of the Few (1942) in minor roles under the stage name of Suzanne Clair. She died of pneumonia in her early thirties in 1942, just six months before Howard's death. Howard left her his Beverly Hills house in his will.
The Howards' family home in Britain was Stowe Maries, a 16th-century, six-bedroom farmhouse on the edge of Westcott, Surrey. His will revealed an estate of £62,761, the equivalent of £2.84 million as of 2019. An English Heritage blue plaque was placed at 45 Farquhar Road, Upper Norwood, London in 2013.
Howard died in 1943 when flying to Bristol from Lisbon, on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines/BOAC Flight 777. The aircraft, "G-AGBB" a Douglas DC-3, was shot down by Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88C6 maritime fighter aircraft over the Bay of Biscay (in Cedeira, A Coruña). Howard was among the 17 fatalities, including four KLM flight crew.
The BOAC DC-3 Ibis had been operating on a scheduled Lisbon-Whitchurch route throughout 1942-43 that did not pass over what would commonly be referred to as a war zone. By 1942, however, the Germans considered the region an "extremely sensitive war zone". On two occasions, 15 November 1942 and 19 April 1943, the camouflaged airliner had been attacked by Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters (a single aircraft and six Bf 110s, respectively) whilst en route; each time, the pilots escaped via evasive tactics.
On 1 June 1943, "G-AGBB" again came under attack by a schwarm of eight V/KG40 Ju 88C6 maritime fighters. The DC-3's last radio message indicated it was being fired upon at longitude 09.37 West, latitude 46.54 North.
According to German documents, the DC-3 was shot down at Bordeaux, France, and 200 miles (320 km) northwest of La Coruña, Spain. Luftwaffe records indicate that the Ju 88 maritime fighters were operating beyond their normal patrol area to intercept and shoot down the aircraft. First Oberleutnant Herbert Hintze, Staffelkapitän of 14 Staffel, V./Kampfgeschwader 40, and based in Bordeaux, stated that his Staffel shot down the DC-3 because it was recognized as an enemy aircraft., some 500 miles (800 km) from
Hintze further stated that his pilots were angry that the Luftwaffe leaders had not informed them of a scheduled flight between Lisbon and the UK, and that had they known, they could easily have escorted the DC-3 to Bordeaux and captured it and all aboard. The German pilots photographed the wreckage floating in the Bay of Biscay, and after the war copies of these captured photographs were sent to Howard's family.
The following day, a search of the Bay of Biscay was undertaken by "N/461", a Short Sunderland flying boat from No. 461 Squadron RAAF. Near the same coordinates where the DC-3 was shot down, the Sunderland was attacked by eight Ju 88s and, after a furious battle, it managed to shoot down three of the attackers, with an additional three "possibles", before crash-landing at Praa Sands near Penzance. In the aftermath of these two actions, all BOAC flights from Lisbon were subsequently re-routed and operated only under the cover of darkness.
A long-standing hypothesis states that the Germans believed that the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was on board the flight.Winston Churchill's history of World War II asserts that the Germans targeted the commercial flight because the British Prime Minister's "presence in North Africa [for the 1943 Casablanca conference] had been fully reported," and German agents at the Lisbon airfield mistook a "thickset man smoking a cigar" boarding the plane for Churchill returning to England. The death of the fourteen civilians including Leslie Howard "was a painful shock to me," Churchill wrote; "the brutality of the Germans was only matched by the stupidity of their agents." 
Two books focusing on the final flight, Flight 777 (Ian Colvin, 1957) and In Search of My Father: A Portrait of Leslie Howard (Ronald Howard, 1984) concluded instead that the target was Howard himself: that Germans deliberately shot down Howard's DC-3 to demoralise Britain. Howard had been travelling through Spain and Portugal lecturing on film, but also meeting with local propagandists and shoring up support for the Allies. The British Film Yearbook for 1945 described Leslie Howard's work as "one of the most valuable facets of British propaganda".
The Germans could have suspected even more surreptitious activities, since Portugal, like Switzerland, was a crossroads for internationals and spies from both sides. British historian James Oglethorpe investigated Howard's connection to the secret services. Ronald Howard's book explores the written German orders to the Ju 88 squadron, in great detail, as well as British communiqués that verify intelligence reports indicating a deliberate attack on Howard. These accounts indicate that the Germans were aware of Churchill's real whereabouts at the time and were not so naive as to believe he would be travelling alone on board an unescorted, unarmed civilian aircraft, which Churchill also acknowledged as improbable. Ronald Howard was convinced the order to shoot down Howard's airliner came directly from Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in Nazi Germany, who had been ridiculed in one of Leslie Howard's films, and believed Howard to be the most dangerous British propagandist.
Most of the 13 passengers were either British executives with corporate ties to Portugal, or lower-ranking British government civil servants. There were also two or three children of British military personnel. The bumped passengers were the teenage sons of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt: George and William Cecil, who had been recalled to London from their Swiss boarding school. Being bumped by Howard saved their lives. William Cecil is best associated with his ownership and preservation of his grandfather George Washington Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate in North Carolina. William Cecil described a story in which he met a woman, several months after his return to London, who said she had secret war information, and used his mother's phone to put in a call to the British Air Ministry. She told them that she had a message from Leslie Howard.
A 2008 book by Spanish writer José Rey Ximena claims that Howard was on a top-secret mission for Churchill to dissuade Francisco Franco, Spain's authoritarian dictator and head of state, from joining the Axis powers. Via an old girlfriend, Conchita Montenegro, Howard had contacts with Ricardo Giménez Arnau, a young diplomat in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Further circumstantial background evidence is revealed in Jimmy Burns's 2009 biography of his father, spymaster Tom Burns. According to author William Stevenson in A Man called Intrepid, his biography of Sir William Samuel Stephenson (no relation), the senior representative of British Intelligence for the western hemisphere during the Second World War, Stephenson postulated that the Germans knew about Howard's mission and ordered the aircraft shot down. Stephenson further claimed that Churchill knew in advance of the German intention to shoot down the aircraft, but allowed it to proceed to protect the fact that the British had broken the German Enigma code. Former CIA agent Joseph B. Smith recalled that, in 1957, he was briefed by the National Security Agency on the need for secrecy and that Leslie Howard's death had been brought up. The NSA claimed that Howard knew his aircraft was to be attacked by German fighters and sacrificed himself to protect the British code-breakers.
The 2010 biography by Estel Eforgan, Leslie Howard: The Lost Actor, examines currently available evidence and concludes that Howard was not a specific target, corroborating the claims by German sources that the shootdown was "an error in judgement". There is a monument in San Andrés de Teixido, Spain, dedicated to the victims of the crash. Howard's aircraft was shot down over the sea north of this village.
Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer's "Soldiers: Germans POW's on Fighting Killing, and Dying" includes a recently declassified transcript of a surreptitiously recorded conversation by two German Luftwaffe prisoners of war talking about the shooting down of Howard's flight. The Luftwaffe pilot seems to express pride in his accomplishment, but states clearly he knew nothing of the passenger's identities or importance until hearing an English broadcast later that evening. Asked why he shot down a civil aircraft, he states it was one of four such planes he shot down: "Whatever crossed our path was shot down." 
Howard did not publish an autobiography, although a compilation of his writings, Trivial Fond Records, edited and with occasional comments by his son Ronald, was published in 1982. This book includes insights on his family life, first impressions of America and Americans when he first moved to the United States to act on Broadway, and his views on democracy in the years prior to and during the Second World War.
Howard's son and daughter each published memoirs of their father: In Search of My Father: A Portrait of Leslie Howard (1984) by Ronald Howard, and A Quite Remarkable Father: A Biography of Leslie Howard (1959) by Leslie Ruth Howard.
Estel Eforgan's Leslie Howard: The Lost Actor is a full-length book biography published in 2010.
Leslie Howard: A Quite Remarkable Life, a film documentary biography produced by Thomas Hamilton of Repo Films, was shown privately at the NFB Mediatheque, Toronto, Canada in September 2009 for contributors and supporters of the film. Subsequently, re-edited and retitled Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn, the documentary was officially launched on 2 September 2011 in an event held at Leslie Howard's former home "Stowe Maries" in Dorking, and reported on BBC South News the same day. Lengthy rights negotiations with Warners then delayed further screenings until May 2012, although the situation now appears to have been resolved and Repo Films now intends to enter the film into various International Film Festivals.
|1914||UK||The Heroine of Mons||Yes||Short|
|1917||UK||The Happy Warrior||Yes||Rollo|
|1919||UK||The Lackey and the Lady||Yes||Tony Dunciman|
|1920||UK||Five Pounds Reward||Yes||Yes||Tony Marchmont||Short|
|1921||UK||Two Many Cooks||Yes||Short|
|1921||UK||The Temporary Lady||Yes||Short|
|1930||US||Outward Bound||Yes||Tom Prior|
|1931||US||Never the Twain Shall Meet||Yes||Dan Pritchard|
|1931||US||A Free Soul||Yes||Dwight Winthrop|
|1931||US||Five and Ten||Yes||Bertram "Berry" Rhodes|
|1932||UK||Service for Ladies||Yes||Max Tracey|
|1932||US||Smilin' Through||Yes||Sir John Carteret|
|1932||US||The Animal Kingdom||Yes||Tom Collier|
|1933||US||Captured!||Yes||Captain Fred Allison|
|1933||US||Berkeley Square||Yes||Peter Standish|
|1934||US||Of Human Bondage||Yes||Philip Carey|
|1934||UK||The Lady Is Willing||Yes||Albert Latour|
|1934||US||British Agent||Yes||Stephen "Steve" Locke|
|1934||UK||The Scarlet Pimpernel||Yes||Sir Percy Blakeney|
|1936||US||The Petrified Forest||Yes||Alan Squier|
|1936||US||Romeo and Juliet||Yes||Romeo|
|1937||US||It's Love I'm After||Yes||Basil Underwood|
|1938||UK||Pygmalion||Yes||Yes||Professor Henry Higgins|
|1939||US||Gone with the Wind||Yes||Ashley Wilkes|
|1941||UK||"Pimpernel" Smith||Yes||Yes||Yes||Professor Horatio Smith|
|1941||UK||49th Parallel||Yes||Philip Armstrong Scott|
|1942||UK||The First of the Few||Yes||Yes||Yes||R. J. Mitchell|
|1942||UK||From the Four Corners||Yes||Short|
|1942||UK||In Which We Serve||Yes||Narrator||Uncredited|
|1943||UK||The Gentle Sex||Yes||Yes||Yes||Narrator||(final film role)|
|1943||UK||The Lamp Still Burns||Yes||Final production|
|20 December 1913||Deception||Wilson Smith||Author|
Stanley Hall, Upper Norwood, London
|20 December 1913||The Perplexed Husband||Stanley Hall, Upper Norwood, London|
|Peg O' My Heart||Jerry||England Tour|
|Charley's Aunt||Jack Chesney||England Tour|
|10 June 1917||The Tidings Brought to Mary||the Apprentice||Strand Theatre, London|
|Under Cover||Monty Vaughan||England Tour|
|14 February - 30 March 1918||The Freaks||Ronald Herrick||New Theatre, London|
|19 March 1918||Romanticismo||Marquis Giacomino d'Arfo||Comedy Theatre, London|
|14 April 1918||Romanticismo||Marquis Giacomino d'Arfo||King's Hall, London|
|1 April 1918||The Morals of Vanda||Leonard Mortimer||Grand Theatre, Croydon, London|
|6 May 1918||Box B||Capt. Robert Stroud||London Coliseum, London|
|3 June 1918||Sinners||Robert Ransom||Prince of Wales Theatre, Birmingham, England|
|20 July 1918 - Spring 1919||The Title||John Culver||Royalty Theatre, London|
|3 April 1919||Our Mr. Hepplewhite||Lord Bagley||Criterion Theatre, London|
|24 November 1919||Just A Wife Or Two||Victor Hamilton||West Pier, Brighton, England|
|5 January 1920||Mr. Pim Passes By||Brian Strange||New Theatre, London and The Garrick Theatre, London|
|10 February 1920||The Young Person in Pink||Lord Stevenage||Prince of Wales Theatre, London|
|16 February 1920||Kitty Breaks Loose||Jack Wilson/Sir John Wilde||Duke of York's Theatre, London|
|9 June 1920||East Is West||Billy Benson||Lyric Theatre, London|
|July 1920||Rosalind of the Farmyard||Captain L'Estrange||Shaftesbury Theatre, London|
|1 November 1920 - January 1921||Just Suppose||Hon. Sir Calverton Shipley||Henry Miller's Theatre, New York|
|10 December 1920||P's and Q's||Charley Stark||Morosco Theatre, New York|
|10 October - October 1921||The Wren||Roddy||Gaiety Theatre, New York|
|22 December 1921 - February 1922||Danger||Percy Sturgess||39th Street Theatre, New York|
|14 March - June 1922||The Truth About Blayds||Oliver Blayds||Booth Theatre, New York|
|24 August - September 1922||A Serpent's Tooth||Jerry Middleton||Little Theatre, New York|
|14 November - December 1922||The Romantic Age||Gervase Mallory||Comedy Theatre, New York|
|25 December 1922 - January 1923||The Lady Cristilinda||Martini||Broadhurst Theatre, New York|
|20 February - April 1923||Anything Might Happen||Hal Turner||Comedy Theatre, New York|
|21 May - June 1923||Aren't We All?||The Hon. William Tatham||Gaiety Theatre, New York|
|7 January - May 1924||Outward Bound||Henry||Ritz Theatre, New York|
|25 August - December 1924||The Werewolf||Paolo Moreira||49th Street Theatre, New York|
|13 January - February 1925||Shall We Join the Ladies?||Mr. Preen||Empire Theatre, New York|
|13 January - February 1925||Isabel||Peter Graham||Empire Theatre, New York|
|15 September 1925 - February 1926||The Green Hat||Napier Harpenden||Broadhurst Theatre, New York|
|27 July 1926||The Way You Look At It||Bobby Rendon||Queen's Theatre, London|
|20 December 1926||Mayfair||Broad Street Theatre,|
Newark (Out-of-Town Tryout)
|21 March - August 1927||Her Cardboard Lover||Andre Sallicel||Empire Theatre, New York|
|29 September - October 1927||Murray Hill||Wrigley||Author|
Bijou Theatre, New York
|26 October 1927 - March 1928||Escape||Matt Denant||Booth Theatre, New York|
|June 1928||Tell Me the Truth (A Bit of Tomfoolery)||--||Author|
Ambassadors Theatre, London
|21 August 1928||Her Cardboard Lover||Andre Sallicel||Lyric Theatre, London|
|6 March 1929||Berkeley Square||Peter Standish||Lyric Theatre, London|
|1929||Candle Light||Josef||Southampton, England|
|30 September 1929 - January 1930||Candle Light||Josef||Empire Theatre, New York|
|4 November 1929 - May 1930||Berkeley Square||Peter Standish||Co-producer, Co-director|
Lyceum Theatre, New York
|8 February - February 1930||Out of a Blue Sky||--||Author, Director|
Booth Theatre, New York
|12 January - June 1932||The Animal Kingdom||Tom Collier||Co-producer|
Broadhurst Theatre, New York
|31 March - April 1932||We Are No Longer Children||--||Co-director|
Booth Theatre, New York
|19-28 October 1933||This Side Idolatry||William Shakespeare||Producer|
Lyric Theatre, London
|July 1934||Elizabeth Sleeps Out||--||Author|
Whitehall Theatre, London
|7 January - June 1935||The Petrified Forest||Alan Squier||Co-producer|
Broadhurst Theatre, New York
|20 April - May 1936||Elizabeth Sleeps Out||--||Author|
Comedy Theatre, New York
|10 November - December 1936||Hamlet||Hamlet||Director, Producer|
Imperial Theatre, New York
|27 September 1937||Alias Mrs. Jones||--||Author, Director|
Little Theatre, Bristol, England
|May 1938||Here's to Our Enterprise||Lyceum Theatre, London|
|25 September 1942||Cathedral Steps||Horatio Nelson||St. Paul's Cathedral, London|
Howard was not only an accomplished actor on stage and screen, he appeared many times on radio as well. Howard began his career on radio in the early 1930s when he performed dramatic readings for The Yardley Program. Not much is known about the programme because the recordings have been lost, but references to the show can be found in fan magazines of the time and the show is listed in The New York Times radio programme guide. Howard was also a guest performer on such shows as The Rudy Vallee Show/Fleischmann's Yeast Hour, Lux Radio Theatre, The Silver Theatre, The Magic Key of RCA, Your Hit Parade and Kraft Music Hall with Bing Crosby.
In May, 1935, Leslie Howard and his daughter, Leslie Ruth Howard, aged 10, appeared on The Rudy Vallee Show/Fleischmann's Yeast Hour in "The Enchanted Forest" scene from James M. Barrie's Dear Brutus. The show was so popular with audiences that for the first time in the show's history an encore was performed six weeks later on 27 June 1935. That show survives and can be heard on the Old Time Radio Library's website.
At the end of 1936 Howard began appearing as a guest on Eddie Cantor's Texaco Town. It took six months and three appearances before he and Cantor finally delivered the punch line in the skit "Three Pairs of Rubbers." Howard's appearances were not limited to guest spots. Beginning in October 1935 and into the spring of 1936 Howard had his own show on CBS. It was a serial titled The Amateur Gentleman. The show eventually became Leslie Howard's Matinee with each week bringing a new adapted play popular at the time to radio listeners. Howard also appeared in Columbia Presents Shakespeare as Benedick in the play Much Ado About Nothing with Rosalind Russell in the summer of 1937. Howard produced two shows for Lux Radio Theatre: Lady for A Day, starring May Robson and Guy Kibbee, and The Life of Emile Zola, starring Paul Muni and Josephine Hutchinson.
His last known radio appearance in the United States before returning to Britain to help with the war effort was the Radio Tribute to the King and Queen in which dozens of British stars performed skits while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth listened with President Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt from Hyde Park. Howard's appearances on the BBC's Britain Speaks were broadcast to the United States from 16 July 1940, after the onset of the Second World War urging America to enter the war in support of Britain. By January 1941 Howard had completed 27 broadcasts of Britain Speaks. Howard also appeared on a panel programme for the BBC called The Brains Trust.
Unfortunately, most of Howard's radio broadcasts have been lost but a few have survived for the enjoyment of audiences today.
|Date||Network||Show Title||Episode Title||Episode Number||Appearing||Listen (Shows filed under show title)|
|27 March 1932 to 8 May 1932||NBC Networks||Yardley Program||Yardley Program||Leslie Howard Reading, London String Quartet|
|1933 or 1934||NBC||Rudy Vallee - Fleischmann's Yeast Hour||Leslie Howard,
|23 May 1934||NBC||Sketch: Without the Benefit of Clergy||Without the Benefit of Clergy||Leslie Howard|
|9 December 1934||NBC||Lux Radio Theatre||Berkeley Square||9||Leslie Howard,
|14 February 1935||NBC||Rudy Vallee - Fleischmann's Yeast Hour||A Minuet||278||Leslie Howard,
|Old Time Radio Library|
|31 March 1935||NBC||Lux Radio Theatre||The Romantic Age||25||Leslie Howard,
|16 May 1935||NBC||Rudy Vallee - Fleischmann's Yeast Hour||Dear Brutus||291||Leslie Howard,
Leslie Ruth Howard
|27 June 1935||NBC||Rudy Vallee - Fleischmann's Yeast Hour||Dear Brutus||297||Leslie Howard,
Leslie Ruth Howard
|Old Time Radio Library|
|6 October 1935 to 1 December 1935||CBS||The Amateur Gentleman||The Amateur Gentleman||Leslie Howard,
|8 December 1935||CBS||Play: Dear Brutus||Dear Brutus||Leslie Howard,
Leslie Ruth Howard
|22 December 1935||CBS||Play: Purple and Fine Linen||Purple and Fine Linen||Leslie Howard|
|29 December 1935||CBS||Play: An Unfinished Story||An Unfinished Story||Leslie Howard,
|5 January 1936||CBS||Play: Her Cardboard Lover||Her Cardboard Lover||Leslie Howard|
|12 January 1936||CBS||Play: The Admirable Crichton||The Admirable Crichton||Leslie Howard|
|26 January 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||There's Always Juliet||Leslie Howard|
|2 February 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||The Guardsman||Leslie Howard|
|9 February 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||Murray Hill||Leslie Howard|
|16 February 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||Journey's End||Leslie Howard|
|23 February 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||Springtime for Henry||Leslie Howard|
|8 March 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||The Scarlet Pimpernel||Leslie Howard|
|15 March 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||Raffles||Leslie Howard|
|22 March 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||Just Suppose||Leslie Howard|
|29 March 1936||CBS||Leslie Howard's Matinee||The Second Man||Leslie Howard|
|5 April 1936||CBS||Magic Key of RCA, The||Galsworthy's Justice||026||Leslie Howard||Old Time Radio Library|
|17 September 1936||NBC||Rudy Vallee - Fleischmann's Yeast Hour||The Miraculous Visitor||7||Leslie Howard,
|6 December 1936||CBS||Eddie Cantor's Texaco Town||Three Pairs of Rubbers||12||Leslie Howard||Old Time Radio Library|
|14 February 1937||CBS||Eddie Cantor's Texaco Town||Hamlet||22||Leslie Howard||Old Time Radio Library|
|19 May 1937||CBS||Your Hit Parade||Interview and Lucky Strike Ad||Leslie Howard||Transcript Variety Radio Directory|
|30 May 1937||CBS||Eddie Cantor's Texaco Town||Aired In England||37||Leslie Howard||Old Time Radio Library|
|21 June 1937||CBS||Lux Radio Theatre||Monsieur Beaucaire||138||Leslie Howard,
|Old Time Radio Library - Lux|
|19 July 1937||CBS||Columbia Presents Shakespeare||Much Ado About Nothing||2nd show in series||Leslie Howard,
|Old Time Radio Library|
|2 January 1938||BBC||Hamlet||Leslie Howard|
|28 November 1938||CBS||Lux Radio Theatre||Interference||195||Leslie Howard,
|12 December 1938||CBS||Lux Radio Theatre||The Scarlet Pimpernel||197||Leslie Howard,
Olivia de Havilland
|Old Time Radio Library - Lux|
|15 December 1938||NBC||The Kraft Music Hall||Leslie Howard,
|8 January 1939||CBS||Silver Theatre, The||A Study in Triangles||028||Leslie Howard,
|Old Time Radio Library|
|26 March 1939||CBS||The Gulf Screen Guild Theater||Never In This World||012||Leslie Howard,
|Screen Guild Theater|
|1 May 1939||CBS||Lux Radio Theatre||Lady For A Day||217||May Robson,
|Old Time Radio Library - Lux|
|8 May 1939||CBS||Lux Radio Theatre||The Life of Emile Zola||218||Paul Muni,
|Old Time Radio Library - Lux|
|11 June 1939||NBC||Radio Tribute to the King and Queen||Goodbye, Mr. Chips Segment||Leslie Howard,
|Tribute To Their Majesties|