H. Lane Bayliff

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H. Lane Bayliff (b. Kensington, London, 06/04/1872 – d. Katoomba, New South Wales, 21/09/1937) was a British-born actor/producer/manager, later in Australia.


Henry William Lane Bayliff (usually credited as H. Lane Bayliff) was the son of William Entwistle Bayliff and his wife, Mary Beatrice Ann Hodges. At the time of Henry’s birth his father was in the civil service and for a while it looked as though the son would also settle for an office job because according to the Census of 1891 Henry was a clerk with the Bank of England. However, that same year he began presenting entertainments at the local parish hall in Acton, London. Not long afterwards he appeared on the professional stage, acting in popular plays of that time, including The Second Mrs Tanqueray for Fred G. Latham, a play which he later produced while touring the provinces. In March 1902, he made his first visit to South Africa and joined first Edward Terry’s company and then the Wheeler-Edwardes Gaiety Company. Plays in which he appeared during this time include The Hour of Temptation, The Passport, A Country Girl, Three Little Maids and The Toreador.

Upon his return to England he appeared in the provinces as well as in London’s West End in a wide range of plays, from Lady Windermere’s Fan to Milestones, frequently acting with George Arliss. Between 1911 and 1918 he was also very active as a producer, notably at the Liverpool Playhouse. He appeared in at least one film in England (The Shadow Between/1920), before he came out to South Africa for the second time in July 1920 as the producer of the New London Dramatic Company, opening with De Luxe Annie at His Majesty’s Theatre on 30 August, followed by Tilly of Bloomsbury, Eyes of Youth, French Leave and The Man Who Came Back. Subsequently he joined Gertrude Elliott (Lady Forbes Robertson), becoming manager of her touring company and acting in Paddy the Next Best Thing (1921) and Lightnin’ at His Majesty’s Theatre. He also acted as manager on behalf of African Theatres with the Horace Hodges company when they visited South Africa. It was during this time that he took the role of Captain John Lant in The Reef of Stars (1923), the Joseph Albrecht film version of the novel by H. De Vere Stacpoole, which was released in South Africa after he had left for Australia with Lady Forbes Robertson in February 1923.

He appeared in numerous plays across the country and in New Zealand. He became the business manager of the Allan Wilkie Shakespearean Company, of which his second wife was also a member, and toured Australia for eight years. He also did radio work for the Australian Broadcasting Company/Commission. In 1934 he was the adjudicator of the Australian Women’s Weekly Screen Personality contest and between 1933 and 1937 he appeared in five films, three of them directed by Ken G. Hall, including the popular The Squatter’s Daughter (1933) and The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934). He was first married to Eliza Lillie Mills, whom he married in Cape Town in 1904, and later to Betsy Ritchie Scott in 1925. The couple settled in Australia, where he died in 1937. (FO)


South African Pictorial, 7 August 1920

Auckland Star, 3 June 1933

The Katoomba Daily, 21 September 1937

International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38

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

Pike, Andrew & Cooper, Ross - Australian film 1900-1977: a guide to feature film production

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