Watch Michael Wilding Movies Online
An urbane leading man of the British screen who burned at a lower magnitude of star-power than did his contemporary James Mason, Michael Wilding achieved cinematic immortality of sorts by becoming the second of the 20-years-younger Elizabeth Taylor's seven or eight husbands. Like Grover Cleveland in the annals of the US Presidency, the nearest equivalent to the sheer power of celebrity that accrues to top movie and pop stars, some count Richard Burton once while others deem him husbands #5 and #6.Born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England on July 23, 1912, Wilding became a commercial artist after leaving school. He gained employment in the art department of a film studio in London in 1933, and he was soon approached by producers to become a movie star-in-training due to his dashing good looks. After debuting at age 21 in Bitter Sweet (1933), Wilding worked steadily in British pictures for nearly three decades. Though never a star of the first rank, he had leading roles in numerous films, including a part in the classic In Which We Serve (1942). Wilding often co-starred with Anna Neagle.Wilder moved to Hollywood and was featured in two of Alfred Hitchcock's lesser efforts, Under Capricorn (1949) and Stage Fright (1950). Overall, Wilding's Hollywood career was less successful than his British career had been; yet, if he had not made the move, he wouldn't have been in the right place at the right time to catch a gorgeous 18-year-old Taylor, rebounding from the hard fists and mental cruelty of hotel-chain scion Conrad Hilton Jr. (better known as "Nicky" and great-uncle of the notoriously untalented tabloid star and amateur sex-tape queen Paris Hilton). Wilding divorced Kay Young (his wife since 1937) after 15 years of marriage, and two months later, at age 40, married the 19-year-old Liz in 1952. However, he lost her to studied wiseguy Michael Todd--a force of nature crafted from chutzpah if not pure, unadulterated high-test testosterone--in 1956. Wilding and his beautiful movie star wife were divorced in 1957, but the product of their love was two sons.Some celebrity psycho-historians have claimed that Liz loved Wilding (more than twice her age when they married) like a father. The fact is that they remained good friends after the divorce. Since Wilding eventually consoled himself with marriage to legendary beauty Margaret Leighton, it's hard to feel sorry for him, other than the fact that Leighton's untimely death in 1975 left him a widower for the last four years of his life.After uber-hustler Todd's death in a plane crash in 1958, Taylor stole crooner Eddie Fisher from her best friend Debbie Reynolds and (contrary to subsequent pronouncements) spent the first two to three years of their marriage making fabulous whoopee. While she boasted that he could make it three times per boudoir session, he complained that a $50,000 piece of jewelry would only keep her happy for three days.Wilding came back into the picture after Liz, screendom's most spectacular (and most expensive) Cleopatra, imitated history by playing house with her on-screen Marc Antony, Welsh he-man and legendary inebriate Richard Burton, for the first time. After Liz suffered through the slings and arrows of yet another divorce and the Olympian battle of trying to keep up, glass for glass, with her "Taffy" (a pejorative name for Welshmen; on his part, Burton called her "Tubby"--and worse), Wilding went to work for the Burtons.His career in pictures had begun dropping off in the 1950s due to poor health, and the Burtons were glad to have him around as part of their entourage, which went through the inflation-adjusted equivalent of about $350 million at the height of their fame circa 1963-73. Wilding was a companionable sort and was there to agree with Richie when, deep in his cups, he confessed to a journalist on the Puerto Vallarta set of The Night of the Iguana (1964) that if Liz's derrière got any bigger, she'd have to truss it up in a sling.Wilding's last movie role was a non-speaking cameo in Robert Bolt's disastrous Lady Caroline Lamb (1973), which co-starred Leighton. It was an ignominious end to an honorable career in motion pictures. Ultimately, though, Wilding's immortality lies in his being the answer to a trivia question, consumed by the much larger personality of his 20-years younger ex-wife, the legendary Elizabeth Taylor.