Frank Cellier (actor)

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Frank Cellier

Frank Cellier .gif

Cellier in The 39 Steps , 1935
Born(1884-02-23)23 February 1884
Surbiton, Surrey, England
Died 27 September 1948(1948-09-27) (aged 64)
London, England
Years active 1903–1946

Frank Cellier (23 February 1884 27 September 1948) was an English actor. Early in his career, from 1903 to 1920, he toured in Britain, Germany, the West Indies, America and South Africa. In the 1920s, he became known in the West End for Shakespearean character roles, among others, and also directed some plays in which he acted. He continued to act on stage until 1946. During the 1930s and 1940s, he also appeared in more than three dozen films films.

West Indies Island region in the Caribbean

The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago.

West End theatre term for mainstream professional theatre staged in and near the West End of London

West End theatre is a common term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of "Theatreland" in and near the West End of London. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.



Early years

François Cellier, [1] always known as Frank, was born in Surbiton, Surrey, the only son of the conductor François Cellier and his wife, Clara nèe Short. He had five sisters [2] and was educated at Cranleigh School. [3] After leaving school, he spent three years in business.

Surbiton suburban area of south-west London within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, England

Surbiton is a suburban neighbourhood of south-west London, within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (RBK). It is situated next to the River Thames, 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Charing Cross. It is part of the traditional county of Surrey, but for administrative purposes has been part of Greater London since 1965, following the passing of the London Government Act 1963. Surbiton comprises four of the RBK's wards: Alexandra, Berrylands, St. Mark's, and Surbiton Hill.

Surrey County of England

Surrey is a subdivision of the English region of South East England in the United Kingdom. A historic and ceremonial county, Surrey is also one of the home counties. The county borders Kent to the east, East and West Sussex to the south, Hampshire to the west, Berkshire to the northwest, and Greater London to the northeast.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

In 1903, Cellier made his first stage appearance as Clement Hale in Arthur Wing Pinero's Sweet Lavender at the Town Hall in Reigate and thereafter made acting his career, [3] also doing some stage manager work. In the autumn of that year he went on tour with William Poel's company in Doctor Faustus , and later toured in a number of Shakespearean roles in the company of Ian Maclaren. [3] [4] He then extended his repertory in a wide variety of roles which he undertook on tour with the actress Florence Nellie Glossop-Harris (d. 1932), daughter of the actor-manager Augustus Harris, whom he married in 1910. [1] [5] [6] She divorced him in 1925. [1] They had a daughter, Antoinette, who became an actress and married actor Bruce Seton, [7] and a son, Peter, who is a TV, theatre and film actor.

Arthur Wing Pinero British writer

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero was an English playwright and, early in his career, actor.

<i>Sweet Lavender</i> play written by Arthur Wing Pinero

Sweet Lavender is a play in three acts by Arthur Wing Pinero, first performed in 1888. The sentimental and gently humorous story concerns the romance of Lavender Rolt and Clement Hale, and the complications impeding the course of true love.

Reigate A town in Surrey, England

Reigate is a town of over 20,000 inhabitants in eastern Surrey, England. It is in the London commuter belt and one of three towns in the borough of Reigate and Banstead. It is sited at the foot of the North Downs and extends over part of the Greensand Ridge. Reigate has a medieval castle and has been a market town since the medieval period, when it also became a parliamentary borough.

Cellier toured not only in Britain, but in Germany and the West Indies, and did not make his debut in London until 1914, when under his own management he appeared in Cheer, Boys, Cheer. [3] After this he toured in America and South Africa, and did not appear again in London until 1920. "By this time," wrote The Times, "his solid merit was appreciated after his long and arduous apprenticeship." [3]

Shakespearean and other stage roles

Once established, Cellier pursued a career balancing new commercial plays – sometimes farce, often murder drama – and classical roles. His favourite part was Hamlet, and his other Shakespeare roles included Apemantus in Timon of Athens , [8] the title role in Henry IV, Part 2 , [9] Cassio in Othello , [10] Touchstone in As You Like It , [11] Angelo in Measure for Measure , [12] Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor , [13] Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream [14] and Kent in King Lear . Two of his most celebrated roles were in The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night , of which The Times said, "while he could wring the last drop of dramatic tension from the role of Shylock, he could also play Sir Toby Belch in such a way as to bring out the essence of the comedy without suggesting that the old reprobate had never known better days." [3]

<i>Hamlet</i> tragedy by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.

<i>Timon of Athens</i> play by Shakespeare

Timon of Athens is a play by William Shakespeare, probably written in collaboration with Thomas Middleton in about 1605–1606, which was published in the First Folio in 1623. It is about the fortunes of an Athenian named Timon. The central character is a beloved citizen of Athens who through tremendous generosity spends his entire fortune on corrupt hangers-on only interested in getting the next payout.

<i>Henry IV, Part 2</i> play by Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599. It is the third part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and succeeded by Henry V.

In the West End, he directed and played in numerous plays. His roles in these included the Nobleman in The Man with a Load of Mischief (1925), one of Marie Tempest's suitors in Noël Coward's The Marquise (1927), Sir Peter Teazle in The School for Scandal (1929) and the King in the Improper Duchess (1931). He starred in The Duchess of Dantzic in 1932 and directed and appeared in The Mask of Virtue (1935) with Vivien Leigh. [15] [16] He also appeared that year in Espionage, a play by Walter C. Hackett, at the Apollo Theatre. His final stage role was the father in Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy in 1946, which he played to great praise in London and was due to take to America but was prevented by ill-health from doing so.

Marie Tempest British actor-singer

Dame Mary Susan Etherington,, known professionally as Marie Tempest, was an English singer and actress known as the "queen of her profession".

Noël Coward English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer

Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".

<i>The School for Scandal</i> play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

The School for Scandal is a play, a comedy, written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. It was first performed in London at Drury Lane Theatre on 8 May 1777.

Films and death

Beginning in the 1930s, Cellier played roles in films, including Sheriff Watson in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935). He was also Monsieur Barsac in the comedy film The Guv'nor (1935).

Cellier died in London in 1948 aged 64. [3]



  1. 1 2 3 The Times, 27 March 1925, p. 5
  2. François Cellier", Ancestry Institution, Wellcome Library, accessed 20 January 2018 (subscription required)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 The Times, obituary notice, 28 September 1948, p. 7
  4. Payne, Ben Iden. A Life in a Wooden O: Memoirs of the Theatre, p. 59, Yale University Press, 1977, ISBN   0-300-10552-5
  5. The Times obituary notice for François Cellier, 7 January 1914, p. 9
  6. The Times, 9 January 1932, p. 15
  7. Antoinette Cellier at the IMDB database
  8. The Times, 19 May 1920, p. 24
  9. The Times, 18 February 1921, p. 8
  10. The Times, 7 April 1921, p. 8
  11. The Times, 17 February 1923, p. 8
  12. The Times, 25 April 1923, p. 12
  13. The Times, 26 April 1923, p. 10
  14. The Times, 16 May 1923, p. 12
  15. The Play Pictorial 1930-1939, University of Kent at Canterbury
  16. The Manchester Guardian , 17 February 1927, p. 14

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