Sir Ralph David Richardson (19 December 1902 – 10 October 1983) was an English actor, one of a group of theatrical knights of the mid-20th century who, though more closely associated with the stage, also appeared in several classic films.
Richardson first became known for his work on stage in the 1930s. In the 1940s, together with Laurence Olivier, he ran the Old Vic company. He continued on stage and in films into the early 1980s and was especially praised for his comedic roles. In his later years he was celebrated for his theatre work with his old friend John Gielgud. Among his most famous roles were Peer Gynt, Falstaff, John Gabriel Borkman and Hirst in Pinter's No Man's Land.
Richardson was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, the third son and youngest child of Arthur Richardson, a master at the Ladies' College and his wife Lydia née Russell. When he was a baby, his mother left his father and took him with her to Gloucester, where he was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith of his mother (his father and brothers were Quakers). His father supported them with a small allowance. Lydia Richardson wished Ralph to become a priest. He was an altar boy in Brighton, and was sent to the Xavierian College, but he ran away from it.