Frank Cellier

(Redirected from Francois Cellier)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Frank Cellier (1884-1948)[1] was a British actor and conductor.


Born François Cellier on 23 February, 1884 in Surbiton, London, the son of the conductor of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, also named François Cellier. He was usually referred to as Frank Cellier.

Cellier became a distinguished and prolific British actor who made his stage debut in Sweet Lavender in 1903 and subsequently appeared in many films and innumerable plays.

In the early stages of his career, (i.e. 1903-1920), he toured in Britain, Germany, the West Indies, America and South Africa, but thereafter he made a name for himself in the West End of London, his stage appearances varying from popular West End plays to a variety of Shakespearean roles, amongst them "Hamlet", "Shylock" and "Sir Toby Belch". He continued to act on stage until 1946, at times also directing plays in which he acted.

From available records it would seem that he did not return to the screen until 15 years after his return from his tours in the East, but then made up for lost time by appearing in character roles in more than 40 films, including such productions as The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock/1935), Sixty Glorious Years (Herbert Wilcox/1938) and Love on the Dole (John Baxter/1941). There was a further South African connection when he played Barney Barnato in Berthold Viertel’s film Rhodes of Africa (1936).

He had married Florence Glossop-Harris, the daughter of Sir Augustus Henry Glossop-Harris in 1910. Their daughter, Antoinette, and his son Peter, from his 1925 marriage to Phyllis Maud Shannaw, both became actors. He passed away in London on 27 September 1948.

Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

Interestingly, a Francois Cellier is mentioned in the South African context by D.C. Boonzaier (1923), described as "a son of the famous conductor at the Savoy Theatre" and listed as the conductor for an operatic company brought together under the management of Wheeler and Smith, lessees of the Opera House in Cape Town. However, this seems more likely to have been an error by the critic, and the reference is actually to the father himself, who had visited South Africa with the D'Oyly Carte Company before (in in 1902-3).

In December 1915 the actor Frank Cellier came out to South Africa as the leading man to Ethel Irving and opened at the Palladium Theatre in Johannesburg in The Witness for the Defence. He was to be away from England until September 1919, though in May 1917 his wife, actress Florence Glossop-Harris, came out and joined him for a tour of the Far East until they returned to South Africa in March 1918.

Under the auspices of African Theatres he also acted with Ethel Irving in, Dame Nature, The Ware Case, Lady Frederick and The Turning Point all at the Palladium Theatre (1916). This was followed by four plays with leading lady Katharine Pole at the Standard Theatre (1916), namely Kultur at Home, Tiger’s Cub, What Every Woman Knows and Caroline. He then joined A.E. Anson and Mary Malleson for Romance, The Barton Mystery and Dorothy o’ the Hall (1916/1917) at His Majesty’s Theatre. During this time he also acted in his first film, Gloria (Lorimer Johnston/1916), playing the hero opposite Mabel May. “A romance of the African diamond fields”, it was adapted from a novel by Charlotte Mansfield by Harold M. Shaw.

After his return from the Far East he joined Leonard Rayne with a new leading lady in the person of Freda Godfrey, with whom he acted in eleven plays: Remnant, The Blindness of Virtue, The Double Event, The Little Minister, The Morals of Marcus, The Professor’s Love Story, The Natural Law, Lucky Jim, Disraeli, The Second in Command and The Prodigal Son, all at the Standard Theatre (1918). At least three of these plays were produced by Ralph Kimpton, who had been on the Galway Castle with him when he came out to South Africa. Thereafter he returned to African Theatres and joined Madge Fabian for Romance, Seven Days’ Leave, Within the Law, The Little Brother, Nobody’s Widow, Madame X and The Yellow Ticket. In between these engagements in Johannesburg the companies concerned also visited Cape Town and Durban.



S.A. Pictorial, 7 June 1919

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities C

Return to South African Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page