Born Torin Herbert Erskine Thatcher in Bombay, British India (now Mumbai) to English parents. He was educated in Britain and later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; and would go on to become a school teacher and school master. He made his stage debut in 1927. Most biographies have him starting in the British film industry in 1934, well into the talking era; but he did however appear in a film short based on Shakespeare in 1927. The Merchant Of Venice, a very, very early talkie. He next appeared in the film in 1933, not 1934, but continued to do stage work during the 1930's; even appearing with Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh at the Old Vic, in a production of Hamlet. During World War II, he served with the Royal Artillery, ending with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He would later go on to be one of the most recognizable character actors in the both the UK and the US; where he did a lot of television work. He also had a prolific career on Broadway. In 1947 he co-founded the Society for Theater Research and served as it's Vice-Chairman for the Committee. He passed away on 4 March 1981 of cancer at the age of 76 in Thousand Oaks, California. He was cremated and his ashes were then urned.