Sir David Lean Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Sir David Lean

Birthday :

March 25, 1908

Died On :

April 16, 1991

Also Known For :

Producer, Screenwriter

Birth Place :

Croydon, London, United Kingdom

Zodiac Sign :


Sir David Lean valiantly came to prominence as a cinematographer and fervent director. As a camera operator, David saw himself filming epic multiplex that defined his love in the field. He was a one of a kind film director who hated to part with any errs. Maximum results were his order of the day. He is vividly recalled for his center-staged scenes that created a welcoming impression even to the unknown.

Hailing from a decent family, David Lean once served as a tea-boy. But proper planning and hard work made him find ways in the ranks of directive roles. Throughout his career, he managed to make 16 different films. One of his latest movies that he made with the American Finance is said to have been his pathway to success. His popularity escorted him with over thirty-one recognitions and awards including BAFTA Award and Academy Awards

Childhood and Early Life

On 25th March 1908, a couple called Francis William le Blount Lean, and Helena Tangye were blessed with a son in Croydon, Surrey, England. He was none other than David Lean who loved to spend time with his younger sibling called Edward Tangye. In 1926 David dropped out of school where he went to help his father at his firm as an accountant.



In 1930s David Lean started his filming career where he served as a teaboy at Gaumont British Studio. He was then hired as a clapboard boy and later as the most respected editor in the same studio. It is a wonder how he managed to climb up the ladder so fast, but his zest for greatness said it all.

Early in 1938, David Lean started to work on a play by George Bernard Shaw called the Pygmalion. He followed it up with One of Our Aircraft is Missing. In 1941 he worked on a play titled Major Barbara. The following year, Lean partnered with other film directors where they directed a major film called In Which We Serve. Together with Noel Coward, they co-founded a filming company called Cineguild.

From 1944 to 1945 Sir David Lean saw himself as a solo director. It was here that he showcased his directive role in a film like This Happy Breed, Brief Encounter, and Blithe Spirit. His other film includes Great Expectations and Oliver Twist in 1948.The following year, he made a romcom named as The Passionate Friends. In the mid of 1950, David’s film company Cineguild collapsed when he started to work under a British film producer Alexander Korda at Shepperton Studios.

From 1950 to 1965 David Lean made several films including The Mabeline, Summertime, The Bridge on River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. Before the closure of his work, he produced several movies and series. Some of the notable ones include Dr. Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter, A Passage to India and Nostromo.


Awards and Achievements

With a never give up soul, David Lean earned himself profound awards and nominations. Some of the notable ones include the AGFA Silver Condor in 1942, the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1945, Best Adapted Screenplay in 1946, Academy Award in 1947, Golden Lion Award in 1948, and New York Film Critics Award in 1955 among others. In 1984 Lean received an honor of the Knight as well as the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.In the mid of 1973, Sir David received a DGA Honorary Life Member Award.


David’s Personal Life and Legacy

It was on 28th, June 1930 that David Lean got married to his first cousin called Isabel Jean, but they later parted ways in 1936. He fathered a son named Peter. On 23rd, November 1940 he tied a nuptial knot with Kay Walsh, an actress but the union ended up in divorce in 1949. The same year he married Ann Tod, but they called it quit in 1957. In the mid of 1960, he was blessed with another union where he married Leila Matkar, but the couple parted in 1978.

On 28th, October 1981 David Lean married Sandra Holtz where he divorced her in 1984. His sixth wife was called Sandra Cooke with whom he married in 1990, December. It was also the same year that David Lean's health started to deteriorate. He was diagnosed with cancer where he breathed his last on 16th, April 1919 in London, United Kingdom.

Several of his notable film such as The Bridge of River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia were placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. In his honor a renowned theater in Croydon, London was named after him: David Lean Cinema. Although he called it quit the world at his middle age, Lean still lives amongst our midst. All thanks to his incredible work and out of world personality that he left behind.

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