85 (passed away Aug. 8th, 1988)
Jan. 7th, 1903
Birmingham, England, UK
Guest TV Roles
Col. Sir Hubert Crater
Napier was a cousin of Neville Chamberlain, Britain's prime minister from 1937 to 1940. He was stage-struck from childhood and after graduating from Clifton College, the tall 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), booming-voiced Napier studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and then later was engaged by the Oxford Players, where he worked with such raw young talent as Sir John Gielgud and Robert Morley. He continued working with the cream of Britain's acting crop during his ten years (1929–1939) on the West End stage. He came to New York City in 1940 to co-star with Gladys George in Lady in Waiting. Though his film career had begun in England in the 1930s, he had very little success before the cameras until he arrived and joined the British community in Hollywood in 1941. There he spent time with such people as James Whale. He usually played dignified, sometimes WASPish roles of all sizes in such films as Cat People (1942), The Uninvited (1943), and House of Horror (1946).
In The Song of Bernadette, he played the ethically questionable psychiatrist who is hired to declare Bernadette mentally ill. He appeared in two Shakespeare films: the Orson Welles Macbeth, in which he played a priest that Welles added to the story, who spoke lines originally uttered by other characters, and MGM's Julius Caesar, in which he played Cicero. He also played the vicious Earl of Warwick in Joan of Arc. In 1949, he made an appearance on the short-lived television anthology series Your Show Time as Sherlock Holmes, in an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". In the 1950s he appeared on TV in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Napier's career extended into the 1980s; with TV roles in such miniseries as QB VII and such weeklies as The Paper Chase.
In early 1988, Napier appeared on FOX Late Show talk show in a Batman reunion show, with the entire cast of the iconic camp TV series. Though in a wheelchair and visibly tired, Napier was lucid with fond memories of his work on the show. Napier suffered a stroke in 1987, hospitalized since June 1988, and had been gravely ill for several days, before his death of pneumonia on August 8, 1988, in the Berkeley East Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He was 85 years old. Napier was a resident of Pacific Palisades, California, and was survived by his daughters, Jennifer Raine Bissell of Los Angeles, and Jennifer Nichols of East Haddam, Conn. His final resting place is at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory.
- Immigrated to the United States on 28 April 1939.
- Cousin of 'Neville Chamberlain' (qv) (British Prime Minister, 1937-1940).
- He was initially reluctant to sign on to play Batman's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, on _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv) until a friend pointed out to him that the show would make him the most famous butler in the world.
- In 'Tim Burton (I)' (qv)'s _Batman (1989)_ (qv) the Joker's alter ego is named Jack Napier, in Alan's honor.
- Maternal grandfather of actor 'Brian Forster (I)' (qv).
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