Leslie Howard (3 April 1893 – 1 June 1943) was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939) and roles in Berkeley Square (1933), Of Human Bondage (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936), Pygmalion (1938), Intermezzo (1939), Pimpernel Smith (1941) and The First of the Few (1942).
Howard's Second World War activities included acting and filmmaking. He was active in anti-Nazi propaganda and reputedly involved with British or Allied Intelligence, which may have led to his untimely death in 1943 when his airliner was shot down, sparking modern conspiracy theories regarding his death.
Howard was born Leslie Howard Steiner to a British mother, Lilian (née Blumberg) and a Hungarian father, Ferdinand Steiner, in Forest Hill, London, UK. His father was Jewish, and his mother was the granddaughter of a Jewish immigrant from East Prussia who had married into the English upper classes. He was educated at Alleyn's School, London. Like many others around the time of the First World War, the family changed their name, using "Stainer" as less German-sounding. He worked as a bank clerk before enlisting at the outbreak of the First World War. He served in the British Army as a subaltern in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, but suffered shell shock, which led to his relinquishing his commission in May 1916.