Leonard Whiting (Actor) - Romeo and Juliet
 
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Updated: 8/29/22

Name: Leonard Whiting

Birth Name: Leonard John Whiting

Born: June 30, 1950 in London, England, UK

Claim To Fame: Leonard Whiting is a retired British actor and singer best known for his role as Romeo in the 1968 Zeffirelli film version of Romeo and Juliet; a role which earned him the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor.

Family Life: In 1971, Whiting married model Cathee Dahmen. The following year they had a daughter, Sarah Beth Whiting, who died in 2014 from cervical cancer. The couple divorced in 1977. Later, Whiting had a relationship with Valerie Tobin, who gave birth to their daughter Charlotte; she said publicly that she did not meet her father until she was 12. In 1995, Whiting married his assistant, Lynn Presser.

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Info: The only son of Peggy Joyce (O'Sullivan) and Arthur Leonard Whiting.

Has English, Irish and some Romani ancestry.

Moved with his two sisters to Holloway, another area of North London, England.

Whiting's love of performing was encouraged at his local Church and Primary School, St. Joseph's R.C Highgate, where he and sister Linda acted in the school's nativity plays.

Leonard went on to attend St. Richard of Chichester School, Camden Town, leaving just a week or two before beginning work on Romeo and Juliet (1968).

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Trivia: Whiting had some success as a child singer, almost winning a Butlin's Talent Contest (he came second) hosted in the holiday camp's packed out Gaiety Theatre.

He was later spotted by a theatrical agent at the Connaught Rooms Holborn, where he was performing at a Jewish wedding at the age of 12. He only sang one song ("Summertime") which he had rehearsed as a one-off song with the group Teal Lewis and the Fourtunes, who provided the evening entertainment. After hearing him sing, the agent suggested he try out for Lionel Bart's Oliver! which constantly needed replacements for its child performers. Whiting played the Artful Dodger in the long-running London musical for 15 months, and for 13 months in 1965-1966 appeared at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre in the production of William Congreve's Love for Love opposite Olivier, which toured Moscow and Berlin.

Director Franco Zeffirelli described his discovery of Whiting for Romeo and Juliet (1968), from 300 youngsters who auditioned over a period of more than three months: "He has a magnificent face, gentle melancholy, sweet, the kind of idealistic young man Romeo ought to be."

In 1969, the role earned him the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor and at the David di Donatello Awards he won the Golden Plate Award which he shares with co-star Olivia Hussey.

In the mid-1970s, his voice caught the attention of Abbey Road and The Dark Side of the Moon engineer Alan Parsons, who was in the process of recording what was to be the first album by the Alan Parsons Project, Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Whiting performed lead vocals on the song "The Raven" and he also narrated the introduction of the five part musical rendition of The Fall of the House of Usher on the original 1976 album, which was then replaced by Orson Welles on the 1987 remixed version.

Whiting was cast as the Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London's Westminster Theatre between 27 November 1978 and 17 January 1979.

In 2014, he reunited with Olivia Hussey for the film Social Suicide (2015), their first work together in the 46 years since Romeo and Juliet.

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Where Are They Now: Whiting ended his film career, for the most part, in the mid 1970s and subsequently focused on his theatrical career as an actor and writer. Now, he and his wife live in Steele's Village, London.

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