George R. Montford

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George R. Montford (b. Boscombe, Bournemouth, 07/08/1877 - Durban, 27/02/1940) was a stage actor and producer.


George R. Montford was born George Robert Hogarth Mugford, the son of Robert Stephens Mugford, an innkeeper in Winchester, and his wife, Alice Hogarth. Although he never changed his surname officially, he used Montford for his theatrical work. As early as 1896 there is a record of him appearing in Pinero’s The Magistrate at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Blackpool and in the 1901 British Census he was described as a “touring actor”. In January 1907 he arrived in Australia with the English Dramatic Company headed by Sidney Howard under the direction of Edwin Geach. He spent a year visiting the cities and a number of small towns with plays such as Home, Sweet Home, A Modern Judas, The Ticket-of-Leave Man and Human Hearts. The following year he returned to England, touring with a repertory company in plays like The Christian, Samson and especially the popular Kismet: an Arabian Night.

In May 1914 he came out to South Africa as a member of the J.C. Williamson dramatic company that brought out Madge Fabian and Stephen Ewart. Then, as throughout his career, he appeared on the stage, but frequently acted as producer. When, in March 1916, Fabian sailed for Australia, he stayed behind and joined the newly established American Dramatic Company. Though he took occasional roles, he acted primarily as its highly regarded resident producer, based at His Majesty’s Theatre in Johannesburg. In February 1918 he married Naomi Rutherford, a fellow member of the company and it was during this time that he acted in his only film, With Edged Tools (1919), directed by Joseph Albrecht. Shortly after its release he left for England, possibly to see to family matters. Subsequently Naomi joined him there and toured with the hit Paddy the Next Best Thing.

He returned to South Africa in March 1923 and the following year he and his wife were both in Trilby, presented by Maurice Moscovitch at the Cape Town Opera House. There was talk of Moscovitch taking his company to Australia, but though there is no direct evidence of that, Montford was absent from the Johannesburg stage during the first months of 1925. However, by May 1925 he was back home, working with a number of major visiting actors and producers, including Leon M. Lion, Freda Godfrey, Olga Lindo and Godfrey Tearle. In 1926 he became manager of the Apollo Theatre in Germiston and the following year he was transferred in a similar capacity to Krugersdorp. He continued to make occasional stage appearances and in 1930 produced Olga Racster and Jessica Grove’s play Mrs. Cunningham, M.P. for the Rand Daily Mail Christmas Fund. In 1932 he narrated The Cape of Good Hope, the first “talkie travel film”, directed by Joseph Albrecht.

In September 1932, the Rand Daily Mail reported that he would be taking over from Barlow Coulthard as producer for the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society, but Malcolm Woolfson’s history of JODS does not mention him Instead, after his retirement from the stage, he became a radio announcer and producer for the African Broadcasting Company, the precursor of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, based at its studio in Durban. He was married twice, first in 1898 to Dorothy Caroline Bartlett (they were divorced in South Africa in 1917/18) and subsequently to Winifred Naomi Georgina Widdas (Naomi Rutherford). He died in Durban in 1940. (FO)

(Note: Through FreeBMD gives his full name as Robert George Hogarth Mugford, subsequent official documents reverse the first two names, i.e. George Robert Hogarth Mugford)

Theatrical Credits (either as producer, actor or both)

1914 – Within the Law, 1914 – The Land of Promise, 1914 – Under Cover, 1914 – The Third Degree, 1914 – Paid in Full, 1914 – The Yellow Ticket, 1915 – Madame X, 1915 – The Law of the Land, 1915 – On Trial, 1915 – Peg 'o My Heart, 1916 – Ann, 1916 – Common Clay, 1916 – Under Fire, 1916 – Potash and Perlmutter, 1916 – The Affair of Room 17 , 1917 – Kick In, 1917 – The Heart of Wetona, 1917 – Help Wanted, 1917 – The Easiest Way, 1917 – The Misleading Lady, 1917 – House of Glass, 1917 – The Dummy, 1918 – General Post, 1918 – Daddy Long-Legs, 1918 – Turn to the Right, 1918 – The Cinderella Man, 1918 – Nothing But the Truth, 1918 – The Thirteenth Chair, 1918 – Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, 1918 – The Silent Witness, 1918 – Sunday, 1919 – Romance, 1919 – Seven Days’ Leave, 1919 – Within the Law, 1919 – The Little Brother, 1919 – Madame X, 1919 – The Yellow Ticket, 1924 – Trilby, 1924 – The Mask and the Face, 1925 – A Kiss for Cinderella, 1925 – The Heart of a Child, 1925 – Spring Cleaning, 1925 – Three Wise Fools, 1925 – A Dear Little Wife (sketch), 1925 – Sleeping Partners, 1925 – Within the Law, 1930 – Rain, 1930 – The Constant Nymph, 1930 – Naughty Cinderella, 1931 – The Truth Game, 1932 – Traffic, 1932 – White Cargo, 1932 – The Monkey’s Paw (sketch), 1932 – A Week-End, 1932 – The Belle of New York, 1933 – Miss Hook of Holland, 1933 – The Desert Song, 1934 – Mother of Pearl.


Rand Daily Mail (numerous issues)

S.A. Pictorial (numerous issues)

Parsons, Neil - Black and white bioscope: making movies in Africa 1899 to 1925

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