Robert Donat Friedrich Robert Donath (March 18, 1905 - June 9, 1958) was a distinguished English film and stage actor of English, Polish and German descent. He was born in Withington, Manchester and died in London, England.
Donat made his first stage appearance in 1921 and his film debut in 1932 in The Private Life of Henry VIII (as Thomas Culpepper), under the renowned film director and producer Alexander Korda. He had a successful screen image as the quintessential English gentleman. His most successful films included The Ghost Goes West (1935), Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), which won him the Academy Award for best actor.
However, he suffered from ill-health (chronic asthma) which blighted his career and limited him to nineteen films. His final role, as the mandarin of "Yang Cheng" in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) is memorable because it is apparent that he knew that he was close to death. He died of a stroke on June 9 of that year at age 53.
Donat was twice married, first to Ella Annesley Voysey (1929-1946), by whom he had 3 children, and subsequently to British actress Renee Asherson (1953-1958).