Brefni O'Rorke

Last updated
Brefni O'Rorke
Brefni O'Rorke.jpg
William Francis Breffni O'Rorke

26 June 1889
Died11 November 1946(1946-11-11) (aged 57)
Hendon, Middlesex, England [2]
Other namesBrefni O'Rourke
Years active1939–1946

Brefni O'Rorke (26 June 1889 – 11 November 1946) was an Irish actor, both on the stage and in movies. [3]


Early life

O'Rorke was born as William Francis Breffni O'Rorke at 2 Esplande Villas in Dollymount, Clontarf, Dublin on 26 June 1889, [1] and baptised at Clontarf Parish Church on 1 August 1889. [4] His father, Frederick O'Rorke, was a cork merchant, and his mother, Jane Caroline O'Rorke, née Morgan, was an actress. [1] [4] [5] He had an older brother, Frederick, who was twelve years older than him. [6] [7]


O'Rorke began studying acting with his mother and made his professional début in 1912 at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in a production of Shaw's John Bull's Other Island . While still living in Dublin, he met and married in 1916 Alice Cole, a chorus-girl turned actress, who had divorced her first husband and immigrated from South Africa with her young son. Thus O'Rorke became the stepfather of Cyril Cusack. [8] Other theatre roles included the title role in Finn Varra Maa (1917), a musical "pantomime" (or rather, light opera) written by Thomas Henry Nally with music by Geoffrey Molyneux Palmer. [9]

In 1939 he appeared in several broadcasts in the new fledgling BBC television broadcast, including a play by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy called The King of Spain's Daughter, [10] and produced by Denis Johnston.

Partial filmography


National Television started in October 1936, initially broadcast just two hours a day. The station stopped broadcasting at the start of the War, and didn't restart until 1946.

"Plays" (like everything else) could last just one hour maximum, but some were only 25 minutes long. Also, there was no recording possible, so any repeat was really a new broadcast (as in The Advantages of Paternity).


The King of Spain's Daughter(25 Feb 1939) [11]
Writer Teresa Deevy
Producer Denis Johnston
Annie Kinsella Phyllis Ryan
Peter KinsellaBrefni O'Rorke
Mrs MarksAnn Clery
Jim HarrisPatrick Boxill
Roddy MannTony Quinn
The Advantages of Paternity(12 May 1939) [12]
A comedy by Horton Giddy.
AuthorHorton Giddy
Producer Denis Johnston
General YaguninBrefni O'Rorke
Colonel IlyitchFrank Thornton-Bassett
Brunov Erik Chitty
Orderly Stuart Latham
Good Morning, Bill!(4 Jun 1939) [13]
A comedy by P. G. Wodehouse.
Author P. G. Wodehouse
Producer Royston Morley
Bill Peter Haddon
Lord TidmouthMichael Shipley
Sir Hugo DrakeBrefni O'Rorke


Death at Newton-Stewart(3 Feb 1939) [14]
A reconstruction of an unparalleled murder of the 'seventies [1870s], extracted from the records of the Ulster Assizes.
Producer Denis Johnston
Brefni O'RorkeFrank Thornton-Bassett Una O'Connor Godfrey KentonRupert SiddonsJoan FrankMillar Wilson Alex McCrindle Adrian ByrneIan DawsonMaureen MooreNigel FitzgeraldJohn CliffordRobert SansomCharles MaunsellEric NoelsClive Baxter
The Parnell Commission(18 Jul 1939) [15]
A reconstruction of the famous forgery investigation of 1888–89
Producer Denis Johnston
Piggott Eliot Makeham
Sir Charles Russel Felix Aylmer
Parnell Mark Dignam
Attorney GeneralWilfrid Walter
Eye WitnessBrefni O'Rorke
Mrs O'Shea Olga Edwardes
President of the CourtGraveley Edwards
Timothy HarringtonBlake Giffard
Doctor MaguireNigel Fitzgerald
Henniker HeatonLionel Dymoke
Frank Hugh O'DonnellHarry Hutchinson
Court RegistrarLeo McCabe
Captain O'Shea Charles Oliver
Friend Micheline Patton
Servant at ElthamMoya Devlin
Solicitor's ClerkRussell Hogarth
Spanish PolicemanRafael Terry
Houston's Voice
Kenneth Barton
[Actor]Jack Clifford


  1. Radio Times (7 Oct 1937), Death at Newtonstewart, vol. 57, BBC National Programme, pp. 64, 11 This earlier radio broadcast is similar. Inside the Radio Times there, there are some background reading, as well as photographs and a map.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Byron Foulger</span> American actor

Byron Kay Foulger was an American character actor who over a 50-year career performed in hundreds of stage, film, and television productions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maire O'Neill</span> Irish actress

Maire O'Neill was an Irish actress of stage and film. She holds a place in theatre history as the first actress to interpret the lead character of Pegeen Mike Flaherty in John Millington Synge's controversial masterpiece The Playboy of the Western World (1907).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Shields</span> Irish actor (1896–1970)

Arthur Shields was an Irish actor on television, stage and film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minerva Urecal</span> American vaudevillian and actress (1894–1966)

Minerva Urecal was an American stage and radio performer as well as a character actress in Hollywood films and on various television series from the early 1950s to 1965.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reed Hadley</span> American actor (1910–1958)

Reed Hadley was an American film, television and radio actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dave Willock</span> Character actor (1909-1990)

David Willock was an American character actor. He appeared in 181 films and television series from 1939 to 1979.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sara Allgood</span> Irish actress (1880–1950)

Sarah Ellen Allgood was an Irish actress who held both Irish and American citizenship. She first studied drama with the Irish nationalist Daughters of Ireland and was in the opening of the Irish National Theatre Society.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dick Lane (announcer)</span> American actor and television announcer (1899–1982)

Richard Lane was an American actor and television announcer/presenter. In movies, he played assured, fast-talking slickers: usually press agents, policemen and detectives, sometimes swindlers and frauds. He is perhaps best known to movie fans as "Inspector Farraday" in the Boston Blackie mystery-comedies. Lane also played Faraday in the first radio version of Boston Blackie, which ran on NBC from June 23, 1944 to September 15, 1944. Lane was an early arrival on television, first as a news reporter and then as a sports announcer, broadcasting wrestling and roller derby shows on KTLA-TV, mainly from the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eddy Waller</span> American actor (1889–1977)

Edward Carlingford Waller was an American stage, film and television actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olaf Hytten</span> Scottish actor

Olaf Hytten was a Scottish actor. He appeared in more than 280 films between 1921 and 1955. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and died in Los Angeles, California from a heart attack, while sitting in his car in the parking lot at 20th Century Fox Studios. His remains are interred an unmarked crypt, located in Santa Monica's Woodlawn Cemetery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russell Hicks</span> American actor

Edward Russell Hicks was an American film character actor. Hicks was born in 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army in France. He later became a lieutenant Colonel in the California State Guard.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olin Howland</span> American actor

Olin Ross Howland was an American film and theatre actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Flavin</span> American actor (1906-1976)

James William Flavin Jr. was an American character actor whose career lasted for nearly half a century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Orth</span> American actor (1880–1962)

Frank Orth was an American actor born in Philadelphia. He is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Inspector Faraday in the 1951-1953 television series Boston Blackie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chester Clute</span> American actor (1891–1956)

Chester Lamont Clute was an American actor familiar in scores of Hollywood films from his debut in 1930. Diminutive, bald-pated with a bristling moustache, he appeared in mostly unbilled roles, consisting usually of one or two lines, in nearly 250 films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward Gargan</span> American actor (died 1964)

Edward Gargan was an American film and television actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emory Parnell</span> American actor (1892–1979)

Emory Parnell was an American vaudeville performer and actor who appeared in over 250 films in his 36-year career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Field</span> American actress (1909–1996)

Mary Field was an American film actress who primarily appeared in supporting roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnnie Schofield</span> British actor (1889–1955)

Johnnie William Schofield was a British actor, known for The Middle Watch (1948), Tawny Pipit (1944) and Melody of My Heart (1936).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gavin Muir (American actor)</span> American actor (1900–1972)

Gavin Muir was an American film, television, and theatre actor.


  1. 1 2 3 "Births in the District of Clontarf & Howth No. 1 in the Union of North Dublin, 1889" (PDF). Entry Numbers 48–57. Retrieved 8 Mar 2021.
  2. "Deaths Registered in October, November and December, 1946". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 8 Mar 2021.
  3. Brefni O'Rorke at the British Film Institute
  4. 1 2 "Baptisms administered in the Church of Clontarf in the Parish of Clontarf in the Diocese of Dublin, 1889". p. 20. Retrieved 8 Mar 2021.
  5. "Marriages in the Registrar's District of Dublin South, 1875" (PDF). Entry Numbers 105–108. Retrieved 8 Mar 2021.
  6. "Residents of a house 11.1 in Richmond Road and Richmond Avenue East (Clontarf West, Dublin)". 31 Mar 1901. Retrieved 8 Mar 2010.
  7. "Residents of a house 2 in Sanford Avenue (Merchant's Quay, Dublin)". 2 Apr 1911. Retrieved 8 Mar 2010.
  8. Brefni O'Rorke at AllMovie
  9. Freeman's Journal, 27 December 1917, p. 6.
  10. "The King of Spain's Daughter [Television]". The Teresa Deevy Archive. Maynooth University. Retrieved 8 Mar 2021.
  11. Radio Times (25 Feb 1939), The King of Spain's Daughter, vol. 62, BBC Television, p. 16
  12. Radio Times (12 May 1939), The Advantages of Paternity, vol. 63, BBC Television, p. 15
  13. Radio Times (4 Jun 1939), Good Morning, Bill!, vol. 63, BBC Television, p. 16
  14. Radio Times (3 Feb 1939), Death at Newton-Stewart, vol. 62, BBC Television, p. 12 [upper-alpha 1]
  15. Radio Times (18 Jul 1939), The Parnell Commission, vol. 64, BBC Television, p. 16