BiographyMichael was born January 19, 1942 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. He was christened Michael Patrick Dumbell-Smith. In 1945, his widowed mother remarried to a grocer and he became Michael Ingram.At the age of 12, he made his acting debut in a school production of The Little Sweep. It was a memorable performance, as he was so excited he forgot to wear his underpants and according to the script, had to have his clothes stripped off, so he ended up bringing the house down with his unintended display of a bare backside. At 15, he left school to launch his career in show business. He had to change his name because there already was a Michael Ingram who was a radio announcer, so one day he happened to see a truck advertising Crawford's Biscuits and decided that he would from then on be known as Michael Crawford.
After leaving school, Michael earned his living by doing numerous radio programs and children's movies. Some notable works from his youth are Let's Make an Opera,Soap Box Derby,Come Blow Your Horn.At the age of 19, he starred in the movie The War Lover with American actor Steve McQueen. He perfected an American accent in a day in order to get a part in the movie.
1964 saw Michael take on the role of the character Byron in Not So Much A Programme, Not So Much a Way Of Life which played for several episodes on Sunday night TV. Michael as Byron even had his own magazine column. In the same year, Michael filmed The Knack and How To Get It, which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival the following year.
Other movies from the mid-60's starring Michael are A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, How I Won The War with John Lennon, and The Jokers.
In late 1966, Michael went to New York to start rehearsals for Black Comedy. His then-wife and infant daughter joined them a few months later.Black Comedy ran through 1967.
Gene Kelly had seen Michael in a performance of Black Comedy and was so impressed that he invited Michael to come to San Francisco to audition with him for a part in the upcoming movie Hello Dolly which he was directing.Upon meeting Michael, Gene Kelly decided that Michael would get the part of Cornelius Hackl because his wife thought he was "attractive" and he himself though Michael was an "idiot".
Hello Dolly was part of a three picture deal that Michael signed with 20th Century Fox. Following Dolly, Michael filmed The Games and Hello-Goodbye. The last movie was a bomb, and Michael returned to England thereafter. He did not do any acting work for 1 1/2 years and made cushions in order to survive.
In 1973, Michael starred in 13 episodes of the TV series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em as the accident-prone Frank Spencer. It was a big hit. Frank Spencer returned the TV screen the following two years with Christmas specials, and another run of Some Mothers was shown in 1978. To the present day, the TV viewers worldwide can enjoy reruns of the series episodes.
Michael's stage work in the 70's included the musical Billy, No Sex Please, We're British, Same Time, Next Year.He also starred in Flowers for Algernon in 1979, but the play closed after a short run.
In 1980, Michael went to the Big Apple Circus School in New York to prepare for the title role in Barnum, where he did stunts like a tightrope walk at every performance.Barnum opened in 1981 and played off and on at various theatres until 1986.
In the mid 80's, Andrew Lloyd Webber had written a musical based on Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. His then-wife Sarah Brightman was taking singing lessons from the same teacher as Michael. One day he came to pick Sarah up after her lesson and he happened to hear Michael singing Care Selve as part of his lesson. He was so impressed with what he heard that he cast Michael as the Phantom, a role which he has become most famous for.
Michael opened in Phantom in London in October 1986 and played through the following year. From January 1988 to October 1988 he played the Phantom on Broadway and gained many American fans. From 1989-90 and the first few months of 1991, he played the Phantom in Los Angeles. Michael's performance as the Phantom earned him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for 1988.
After Phantom, Michael toured with The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber throughout 1991-92 in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK.In 1993, he was heard as the voice of Cornelius the badger in the movie Once Upon A Forest. In 1995, he opened as the star of the $70 million Las Vegas show EFX, which he had to leave after 18 months due to injury. He underwent hip replacement surgery and was back on the scene in 1998 taping the PBS special Michael Crawford In Concert at the Cerritos Center For The Performing Arts and performing in his concert tour An Evening With Michael Crawford in the US and Australia.
As the 2000's approached, Michael did more concerts in the UK, Australia, New Zealand. In 2002, Michael went to New York, USA to star as Count von Krolock in Dance of the Vampires. The show did not do well, and closed in January 2003. The following year, Michael was back on stage, unrecognizable in heavy makeup and a fat suit, to play Count Fosco in Woman in White. He left that show in April 2005 due to illness.
Michael did more concerts in 2006-07, including a return engagement at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. In his concert performance in March 2007 in Long Beach, California, USA, he debuted a new show in which a slide show of his personal family photos was shown, accompanied by him singing "It only takes a moment" from Hello Dolly. At present, Michael is working on a concert show which may be aired on PBS television.