Sir Alec Guinness was a British actor, notable for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars franchise and for his Academy Award winning role in The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Alec was born April 2, 1914 at 155 Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Road, Maida Vale, as Alec Guinness de Cuffe. His mother's maiden name was Agnes Cuff. Alec's birth certificate shows his mother's name as Agnes de Cuffe. The space for the infant's name (where first names only are given) says Alec Guinness. The column for name and surname of father is blank. He spoke harshly of his childhood, remembering times when he and his mother would move from boarding house to boarding house, running out on the bill before paying it. He recalled his mother as "dishonest and trashy". She married an army officer by the name of Stiven who was abusive to young Alec.
The identity of Alec's father has never been officially confirmed. From 1875, under English law, when the birth of an illegitimate child was registered, the father's name could be entered on the certificate only if he were present and gave his consent. Guinness himself believed that his father was a Scottish banker, Andrew Geddes, who paid for Guinness's public school education at Fettes College. Geddes occasionally visited Guinness and his mother, posing as an uncle. 
Alec tried to act in school productions growing up but was dubbed as talentless by the headmaster. Alec finished his schooling in 1932 and started work as an apprentice copywriter at a London advertising agency. He later applied to the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, and was accepted on a modest scholarship, though he found himself on a single meal a day of baked beans on toast after a time so he could afford theater tickets. He left the studio after seven months, but took one of the annual recital judge's names with him to use later, one John Gieglud, as well as an award for his skill.
Alec was known for his ease in moving from role to role and bringing his quiet intensity to any of them, from comedies to drama to space opera. He started his acting career under the tutelage and direction of John Gielgud, but soon joined the Royal Navy during World War II. Following the war he took up the stage again in classic renditions of Shakespeare and Dickens. Not long after he tried his hand in comedy. His 1957 role in "Bridge On The River Kwai" earned him an Oscar. He was well-respected with his following work in "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago", but the role that would make him rich and remembered worldwide was that of Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi knight in the space opera franchice, Star Wars. Despite the success he reaped from the role, he hated the movies and was ready for them to be done nearly as soon as they began. He continued to act after his Star Wars success, both on the movie screen and on television. He received another lifetime achievement Oscar in 1979.
Off screen, Alec lived a quiet life with his family in England. He was not as recognizable as some stage stars and found he could live in anonymity easily, much to his preference. He kept a well-stocked wine cellar and was a gourmet in the kitchen. He was a convert to Roman Catholicism. Alec was knighted in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Alec died August 5, 2000 at King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, England after battling liver cancer. Alec is buried in Petersfield Cemetery, Petersfield, East Hampshire District, Hampshire, England.
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