: I adored it from the first moment. The excitement, the thrill, the smell of the theatre went right down to one's toes.
John Edward Hawkins, CBE was an English actor who worked on stage and in film from the 1930s until the 1970s. One of the most popular British film stars of the 1950s, he was best known for his portrayal of military men in films like Angels One Five (1951), The Cruel Sea (1953), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Ben Hur (1959) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
In the 1930s Hawkins's focus was on the stage. He worked in the companies of Sybil Thorndike, John Gielgud and Basil Dean.
During the Second World War Hawkins served as an officer with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He became a colonel in ENSA for India and Southeast Asia. During his military service he made The Next of Kin (1942) for Ealing Studios.
In May 1973, Hawkins undertook an experimental operation on his throat to insert an artificial voicebox. He started haemorrhaging and was admitted to St Stephen's Hospital, Fulham Road, London in June, forcing him to drop out of The Tamarind Seed (1974), in which Hawkins was to have played a Russian general. He died on 18 July 1973, of a secondary haemorrhage. He was 62.