Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (//; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet, which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. He was known for his beautiful speaking of verse and particularly for his warm and expressive voice, which his colleague Sir Alec Guinness likened to "a silver trumpet muffled in silk". Referring to the mellifluousness of his speech, John Steinbeck described Gielgud as "a great musician" while Laurence Olivier, his rival as the greatest Shakespearean actor of their generation, said he possessed a voice that "wooed the world."
John Gielgud was born in South Kensington in London to Kate Terry-Lewis and Frank Gielgud. He had a theatrical lineage: on his father's side his great grandmother Aniela Aszpergerowa, had been a well known Polish actress (called by British press incorrectly Lithuanian); on his mother's side, he was the grandson of actress Kate Terry, whose actor-siblings included Ellen Terry, Marion Terry and Fred Terry.