Alec McCowen was born May 26, 1925 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. His mother was a dancer, and he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. McCowen began his career in repertory theatre in 1942, touring India and Burma for several years in Love in a Mist. After debuting on the London stage, he performed many Shakespearian roles, establishing a reputation in historical and classical works. He made his film debut in The Cruel Sea in 1953, and earned favorable reviews that same year for his role as Inspector Oxford in Hitchcock's Frenzy. Although he has given notable performances in many movie and television roles, most of his reputation remains centered on his stage work. Between 1967 and 1992 McCowen appeared on Broadway nine times, earning several Tony Award nominations. He has done several one-man stage performances, including Kipling in 1984, and a solo performance of the complete text of St. Mark's Gospel in 1978, which earned him worldwide acclaim. In 1985 he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). He has also written several books about acting. In 1987 his partner of 20 years, actor Geoffrey Burridge, died from AIDS-related complications.