Rarely the leading man, often the second lead.
When we think of Knowles, born in 1911 in Yorkshire, we think of other bland British semi-principals, notably Michael Wilding (the second of Elizabeth Taylor’s seven husbands) and, perhaps, Peter Lawford.
We could throw George Brent into the mix, but he was Irish. (He also pictured below right with our man of the day in this odd publicity photo.)
Tall, dark, deep-voiced and conventionally handsome, Patric Knowles seemed to be grooming himself as the go-to, all purpose romantic lead who takes an occasional fling at action-adventure. He portrayed, for example, Errol Flynn’s younger brother in 1936’s The Charge of the Light Brigade. (That’s Olivia De Havilland in the middle.)
Knowles spent the Thirties mostly in comedies and dramas strictly as the second lead. He reteamed with Flynn in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, playing Will Scarlett.
He enjoyed himself immensely portraying the shallow playboy on the plane ride in 1939’s Five Came Back. (There he is below with Wendy Barrie.)
He appeared in horror outings at Universal and an occasional Bud Abbott and Lou Costello comedy. At 20th Century Fox, he stood out as one of the Morgan brothers in John Ford’s 1941 drama How Green Was My Valley.
A melange of forgettable titles followed through much of the Forties and Fifties after which a disillusioned Knowles productively turned to the then burgeoning live playhouse format of classic tv. Western, private eye shows and other tube genres kept the actor going until the early Sixties.
A novel (Even Steven), the lecture circuit and tv commercials came later. To his immense credit Knowles also occupied himself volunteering in various capacities at California’s Motion Picture Country Home for elderly show business practitioners, most nowhere near as productive as he was. Knowles rolled up some 125 credits over four decades.
He died of a brain hemorrhage in 1995, at the age of 84.