Albert Lawrence (b. Becker, Minnesota, 27/08/1885 – d. Mosman, Sydney, 08/08/1961) was an actor.
Albert Lawrence was originally Albert Olsen. His father, though born in Sweden, immigrated to the United States from Christiana in Norway. While Albert was born in Minnesota, the family eventually settled in Canby, Oregon. He adopted the surname of Lawrence at an early age and it was as Albert Lawrence that he studied at the University of Oregon and later at the Western Academy of Dramatic Art, Elocution and Music in Portland. Like Ray Brown, he was one of the second group of actors who came out to South Africa to join the American Dramatic Company in February 1918. With Brown as Captain (later Commander) Good and H.J. Hamlin as Sir Henry Curtis, he was Allan Quatermain in H. Lisle Lucoque’s film versions of King Solomon’s Mines (1918) and Allan Quatermain (1919). In addition he played the villain in Joseph Albrecht’s sporting drama The Stolen Favourite (1919). He also had a role in the stage production of Daddy Long-Legs (1918) at His Majesty’s Theatre, but a projected part in Turn to the Right fell through because of his film commitments. He and Ray Brown arrived back in the United States via England and France in July 1919.
His first appearance on the professional stage was with the Baker Players in Portland, after which he went to San Francisco to join the Alcazar Theatre. Unfortunately his place of work was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906 and instead he travelled east to find successive employment with companies in Denver, Topeka and Dayton. Following that he was part of the Ralph Stuart Players at Port Arthur in Ontario and thereafter joined a repertory company in Edmonton that was to spend two months touring Alaska. By 1916 he was with the Princess Players in Iowa and is known to have acted in The Miracle Man, The Spendthrift, Seven Days and A Gentleman from Mississippi at their theatre in Des Moines. At some stage he is said to have appeared in films for Jesse L. Lasky and Oliver Morosco, but we haven’t been able to find confirmation.
Upon his return from South Africa he resumed his itinerant lifestyle, acting throughout the United States and Canada. At some stage he may have legally changed his name to Albert Lawrence, for when, in 1918, his Draft Registration card was completed, this was the name he gave. He was single and exempted from military service because he was “physically deficient”. At the time of the 1942 Draft Registration he was living at the Eaton Hotel in Portland and was not employed. He gave the name of his brother James as the person who would always know his whereabouts. Certainly, after World War II he seems to have given up acting and committed himself to touring the world. Along the way he met his future wife, Evelyn, and the couple settled in Australia, where he died in 1961. Some of his papers were deposited in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library by the children of his younger brother, William. Interestingly, James also adopted the surname Lawrence, but William stuck to Olsen. (FO)
The Princess Bulletin, 5 November 1916
Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm
Parsons, Neil - Black and white bioscope: making movies in Africa 1899 to 1925
Albert Lawrence papers, *T-Mss 1997-051. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library
With many thanks to Scott Brawner and Steve Turner in Oregon
Return to ESAT Personalities L
Return to South African Theatre Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page