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Michael York, OBE (born Michael Hugh Johnson; 27 March 1942) is an Englishmarker actor. He is more recently known among mainstream audiences for his role as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers series of comedy films.


Early life

York was born in Fulmermarker, Gerrards Crossmarker, Buckinghamshire, the son of Florence Edith May (née Chown), a musician; and Joseph Gwynne Johnson, a Llandoverymarker born Welshmarker ex-Royal Artillery British Army officer and executive with Marks and Spencer department stores. York has an older sister, Penepole Anne (born 1940) and younger twin sisters, Caroline and Bridget (born 1947) but Bridget died a few hours after birth, according to his autobiography. He was raised in the town of Burgess Hillmarker in Sussex. During his teenage years, York was educated at Bromley Grammar School for Boys, Bromleymarker, Kent and at Oxford University. He began his career in a 1956 production of The Yellow Jacket. In 1959 he made his West End debut with a brief part in a production of Hamlet.


Prior to graduating with a degree in English from the University of Oxfordmarker in 1964, York had toured with the National Youth Theatre, also performing with the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the University College Players. After some time with the Dundeemarker Repertory Theatre, York joined the National Theatremarker where he worked with Franco Zeffirelli during the 1965 staging of Much Ado About Nothing.

York made his film debut as Lucentio in Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew (1967), then was cast as Tybalt in Zeffirelli's 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. He also starred in an early Merchant Ivory Productions film, The Guru (1969). He played an amoral bisexual drifter in Harold Prince's film Something for Everyone (1970) opposite Angela Lansbury as the countess who hires York as her footman. He then went on to portray the bisexual Brian Roberts in Bob Fosse's film version of Cabaret (1972), opposite Liza Minnelli. In 1977 reunited with Zeffirelli as a fiery John the Baptist in Jesus of Nazareth.

York starred as D'Artagnan in the 1973 adaptation of The Three Musketeers and he made his Broadwaymarker debut in the original production of Tennessee Williams's Out Cry. One year later the sequel to The Three Musketeers was released (roughly covering events in the second half of the book) titled The Four Musketeers. These two films are still popular and generally accepted as the best film version of the famous Dumas adventure story. Fifteen years later, most of the cast (and crew) joined together in a third film titled The Return of the Musketeers based on the Dumas novel Twenty Years After. York had already been on British TV as Jolyon (Jolly) in The Forsyte Saga (1967). He also played the title character in the film adaptation of Logan's Run (1976).

Since his auspicious early work, York has enjoyed a busy and varied career in film, television, and on the stage. He appeared in two episodes in the second season of the Road to Avonlea series as Ezekiel Crane, the lighthouse keeper of Avonlea and father of Gus Pike. His Broadway theatremarker credits include Bent (1980), The Crucible (1992), Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (1993), and the ill-fated musical The Little Prince and the Aviator (1982), which closed during previews. He also has made many sound recordings as a reader, including Harper Audio's production of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

He appeared in the Babylon 5 episode "A Late Delivery From Avalon" as a delusion-ridden Earthforce gunner. He also appeared as Professor Asher Fleming, a 60 year-old Yale professor and boyfriend of Yale student Paris Geller (Liza Weil) in the fourth season of Gilmore Girls. He performed the voice of the character Ares in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Hawk & Dove", as well as a character named Dr. Montague Kane in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Zatanna". York starred in both The Omega Code and its sequel, Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, as Stone Alexander, portraying the Antichrist of Christian eschatology.

York also played President Alexander Bourne of Macronesia (formerly New Australia) on seaQuest 2032, a role that was quickly fleshed out and would have remained a major player in the series had it lasted past the thirteen episodes it was ordered for in its third season before ultimately being canceled. He has played Basil Exposition in all three of the Austin Powers movies. He has made an appearance on The Simpsons as Mason Fairbanks, Homer's possible father in "Homer's Paternity Coot." He was also in the third season finale of Sliders as a character reminiscent of Dr. Moreau. In 2006, York played the Charles Sobhraj-like character, Bernard Fremont, on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He also appeared as himself in several episodes of the third season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and featured in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

York also voiced Petrie's uncle Pterano in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire. York has also featured as the narrator in the audio New Testament project, the Word of Promise, which is being produced by Jim Caviezel. York played King Arthur in a revival of Lerner and Loewe's Camelot, which began its run at the La Mirada Theatre in Southern California, and toured nationally in 2006 and 2007. Recently, has voiced Forever King Patrick in Ben 10: Alien Force.

Personal life

York resides in California. He married Patricia McCallum on 27 March 1968.His stepson is Star Wars producer Rick McCallum.



  • Accidentally on Purpose (US), Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-79591-0.
  • Travelling Player (UK), Headline. ISBN 0-7472-3306-3.
Also available in other editions

Other Works

York is also the co-author, with director Adrian Brine, of A Shakespearean Actor Prepares, Smith & Kraus, ISBN 1-575-25189-2.


  1. At-A-Glance Film Reviews: The Three Musketeers (1973)

External links

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