I only know of Len Whiting because of his pinups in the teen magazines I sell on my website. He seemed very handsome and had that androgynous look that so many male teen idols seemed to possess. Whiting was easy to look at and very pretty. He is best known for the 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet which kind of seems to be the only thing he’s known for. That sounds mean. My bad.
Leonard Whiting was born on June 30, 1950 in London, England. He graduated from school only a few weeks before he started working on Romeo and Juliet. Prior to Romeo, Whiting also played the Artful Dodger in Oliver for a year and a half where he replaced Davy Jones.
Franco Zeffirelli directed Romeo and Juliet and said this of Whiting: “He has a magnificent face, gentle melancholy, sweet, the kind of idealistic young man Romeo ought to be.” Whiting won a Golden Globe in 1969 for Best New Actor for his portrayal as Romeo.
Whiting told People magazine that he was “thrust for a long moment into international stardom. When that happens, people want to see you in that same persona again and again.” I guess he felt typecast. His costar in the movie, Olivia Hussey, didn’t seem to have any problems. Maybe being a teen idol for a guy was different than that for a woman back then.
Len Whiting did a few other things after Romeo and Juliet. There were a few TV movies in the 70’s. Whiting also sang on the first Alan Parsons Project album in the 1970’s. He did voiceover work in the 1990’s. He got to reunite with his Juliet (Olivia Hussey) in 2015 when they acted together on the movie Social Suicide. It had been 46 years since their Romeo and Juliet.
He has a couple of grown daughters. His daughter Sarah Whiting is from his first wife (1972-1977) and his daughter Charlotte Westenera is from his relationship with Valerie Tobin. Currently married to his manager Lynn Presser, Whiting appears content.
People magazine interviewed Whiting in 1992. At that time, he was living in a somewhat seedy district of London and mainly living off film residuals. He had written several novels, a musical, and a film script (Romeo and Juliet 2 where the lovers come back to life).
The role of Romeo he played at 17 was the bright spot in his acting career. I think he may have felt like a failure and that it was all downhill from there. I just think it means he was meant to do something else, something more. Get busy, Len.