Frank Cellier

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(b. Surbiton, London 23/02/1884 – d. Hammersmith, London, 27/09/1948). British actor. The son of Francois Cellier, the conductor of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, Frank (Francois) Cellier was 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 December 1915 he came out to South Africa as 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.

From available records it would seem that he did not return to the screen until 15 years later, 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). His stage appearances varied from popular West End plays to a variety of Shakespearean roles, amongst them Hamlet, Shylock and Sir Toby Belch. 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. (FO)


S.A. Pictorial, 7 June 1919

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