Canadian actor became Florida professor

Paul Massie, whose performance in 1958′s “Orders to Kill” brought him a BAFTA Award for most promising newcomer to film, died June 8 in Nova Scotia, where he had resided since retiring from the U. of South Florida’s Theater Department as professor emeritus in 1996. He was 78 and had been fighting lymphoma.

The Canadian-born Massie had a run of strong roles in the late 1950s.

In “Orders to Kill,” directed by Anthony Asquith, Massie played an American bomber pilot who parachutes into Nazi-occupied France with the mission of killing a traitor in the French Resistance. Eddie Albert and Lillian Gish also starred.

Massie also appeared on the bigscreen in Asquith’s “Libel,” with Dirk Bogarde and Olivia de Havilland, in which Massie played Bogarde’s accuser; “Sapphire,” directed by Basil Dearden; and Hammer horror film “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” — in which the actor played both Jekyll and Hyde (and Christopher Lee co-starred).

The actor did some work in British TV during the 1960s, including episodes of “The Avengers,” “The Doctors” and “ITV Television Playhouse.” He also starred in the 1973 BBC miniseries “Hawkeye, the Pathfinder.”

Massie was a stage actor as well, performing with Kim Stanley and Leo McKern in Peter Hall’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Comedy Theater in London in 1958. In 1963 he acted in William Fairchild’s “Breaking Point” at the Golders Green Hippodrome in Golders Green, London.

Born Arthur Masse in St. Catharines, Ontario, he attended theater school in the U.K. but then enlisted, serving in Hong Kong. Back in Britain, he became associated with the J. Arthur Rank studio.

Massie also worked in Canada, appearing in the CBC TV productions of dramas “A Doll’s House” with Genevieve Bujold and Peter Donat and “Spring Song” and onstage at the Stratford Festival.

He relocated to Tampa, Fla., in the 1970s to take a position at the U. of South Florida. He taught a variety of performance-related subjects — including clowning and directing — and worked locally both onstage and as a director.

Even after beginning his teaching career, he would return sporadically for screen gigs, last appearing in the 1991 film “Sam and Me” and the 1995 pic “The Naked Eye.”

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