Robert Coote Poster

Biography

Robert Coote (1909-1982) was an English actor who had a thriving career for 50 years. He is best remembered for originating the role of Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady (1964), Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe's musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (1938), for which he was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 1957. He also originated the role of King Pellinore in Lerner & Loewe's 1960 Broadway musical Camelot (1967).

Coote played Colonel Pickering on Broadway and London, but Wilfrid Hyde-White was cast in the Oscar-winning 1964 movie despite Coote's extensive movie career. In fact, Coote had specialized in playing aristocrats and military men in countless films, most notably as Sergeant Bertie Higginbotham in George Stevens's 1939 classic Gunga Din (1939). (In real life, Coote served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two, becoming a squadron leader.)

He possibly was overlooked for the movie (as was Julie Andrews, more notably) due to a strained relationship with star Rex Harrison, who stole business originated by Coote during the original Broadway production. Harrison resented Coote after unsuccessfully demanding to take over a famous piece of business created by Coote, Colonel Pickering's telephone call. Coote recreated the role in the 1976 Broadway revival.