Guest Actor Biography
Page 84 of 127


Ferdy Mayne

Baron Von Orlak, Legacy of Death
Arcarty, Trap

by Pete Stampede and Linda Gillies

It was a sad irony that German-born Ferdy Mayne was often cast as a Nazi (notably in Where Eagles Dare), when in real life he was partly Jewish and had understandably fled to Britain from his homeland. He had an early role for Powell and Pressberger (as did Patrick Macnee) in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, then appeared in endless British B movies of the 40s and 50s, inevitably as silky villains and foreigners. He also moved into TV in the early days, including Epitaph for a Spy (1953), a BBC serial starring Peter Cushing. Later guest roles included Danger Man/Secret Agent, "The Paper Chase" (1966) and The Persuaders, "Five Miles To Midnight" (1971). On stage, he incongruously sang leads in several West End musicals including The Sound of Music, and was in the Royal Court's revolutionary staging of John Osborne's A Patriot for Me.

In the mid-80's, Mayne moved to Hollywood where, now billed as Ferdinand, Englishmen were added to his repertoire of sinister foreigners. I recall him turning up in Cagney and Lacey a couple of times as an engaging old jewel thief called Albert Grand. He could be spotted in Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Howling 2 (1985)—hard to say who looked more embarrassed in that, him or Christopher Lee. During the 90's he developed Parkinson's Disease and eventually returned to Britain to be cared for by his family until he died. Maybe he only ever gave one kind of performance, but he always gave it with style and professionalism.

While Ferdy Mayne may have been frequently cast as a Nazi, there are many other roles worthy of mention. For instance, he appeared in Hammer horror films as well as Roman Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers, in which he was cast as the head vampire, Count Von Krolock. A very early work is Paris Express with Claude Rains, and A Man Called Intrepid in which he was cast with his daughter, Melinda. And he was a sheik in the soft-core embarrassment Au Pair Girls (1972, along with Gabrielle Drake, Norman Chappell and John Le Mesurier). He died 30 January 1998 of the same disease that claimed Vincent Price, another wonderful, distinguished actor. He had an incredible elegance and always gave 100% to every performance.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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