James Alexander Chapman (31 March 1879 – 8 April 1969), known by his stage name, Jay Laurier, was an English actor. Early in his career he was a music hall performer, but by the late 1930s he was playing in the works of Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as well as having a career in films.
Laurier was born in 1879 in Birmingham in Warwickshire. He made his professional debut in Arabian Nights at the Abertillery Public Hall in 1896before beginning a successful career touring the music halls of Britain.
As a music hall artiste he popularised such songs as 'Ring O' Roses' and 'I'm Always Doing Something Silly'. From December 1906 he was in the pantomime Red Riding Hood at the New Theatre in Cardiff.His first performance on the legitimate stage was as Gregory in the comic opera Tom Jones in 1907. Christmas 1907 saw him in the pantomime Mother Goose as Jack opposite the dame of Wilkie Bard at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Birmingham. In 1922 he played Miffins in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at the Hippodrome, London opposite George Robey as Dame Trot. A Freemason, in 1919 he joined the Chelsea Lodge No 3098 the members of which were from the entertainment industry. Laurier was Meander in the musical comedy Phi-Phi at the London Pavilion (1922) and Pamphylos in the operetta Cleopatra (an adaptation of Die Perlen der Cleopatra (1923) by Oscar Straus) opposite Evelyn Laye in the title role at Daly's Theatre (1925). He was in the British production of the musical Oh, Kay! at Her Majesty's Theatre (1927); was Rudolph the Reckless in the pantomime The Sleeping Beauty at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (1929–1930); Nisch in The Merry Widow at the Hippodrome, London (1932), and toured as Popoff in the latter show during 1936. During the 1930s and 40s he acted in a number of films.
He joined the company of The Old Vic in 1937 for whom he played Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalionbefore joining the company of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1938 for whom he played Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1938), Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1938 and 1942), Touchstone in As You Like It (1929–1942), First Gravedigger in Hamlet (1940 and 1942), Porter in Macbeth (1938 and 1942), Pompey in Measure for Measure (1939–1940), Gardener in Richard II (1941), Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1940), Autolycus in The Winter's Tale (1942), Christopher Sly The Taming of the Shrew (1939–1942), Stephano in The Tempest (1938–1942) and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night (1941). Laurier played Christopher Sly in The Taming of the Shrew , Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing in the Stratford Shakespeare season at the Kingsway Theatre in London. In 1945 he gave an acclaimed cameo performance as the jailer Frosch in Gay Rosalinda at the Palace Theatre in London. He reprised the role of Sir Toby Belch at the Savoy Theatre in London in 1947.
In 1901 he married Elizabeth Mary Smith and with her had three children: Leslie James Chapman (born 1902), Sybil Constance Chapman (1903–04) and Marjorie Laurier Chapman (born 1908). They divorced in 1909 after he had abandoned her and his family to live with the married music hall performer Ouida MacDermott whose own husband divorced her in 1910 because of her adultery with Laurier.He married Muriel S. Griffin in 1932 and Sybil Viney.
On retiring in 1956 Jay Laurier moved to Durban in South Africa, where he died in 1969 aged 89.
Bobby Howes was a British entertainer who was a leading musical comedy performer in London's West End theatres in the 1930s and 1940s.
Scott Jaeck is an American actor. He attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, graduating in 1973. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He was married to actress Mariann Mayberry, a member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company ensemble in Chicago, Illinois, until her death on August 1, 2017.
Violet Vanbrugh, born Violet Augusta Mary Barnes, was an English actress who had a career spanning more than 50 years. Despite her many successes, her career was overshadowed by that of her more famous sister Irene Vanbrugh.
Frank Cellier 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.
John Peter Wearing is an Anglo-American theatre historian and professor, who has written numerous books and articles about nineteenth and twentieth-century drama and theatre, including The Shakespeare Diaries: A Fictional Autobiography, published in 2007. He has also written and edited well-received books on George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Wing Pinero, extensive reference series on the London theatre from 1890 to 1959, and theatrical biographies, among other subjects. As a professor of English literature, Wearing has specialised in Shakespeare and modern drama.
Hubert Willis was a British actor best known for his recurring role as Doctor Watson in a series of silent Sherlock Holmes films co-starring with Eille Norwood.
Gerald Leslie Lawrence was a British actor and manager.
Dorothy Ward was an English actress who specialised in pantomimes, playing the principal boy roles, while her husband Shaun Glenville would play the dame roles. She had a successful 52 year career and played in over 40 pantomimes between 1905 and 1957.
Horace Mills was a British singer, actor and dramatist who specialised in playing pantomime dames in the early 20th-century.
Frederick Strafford Moss was a British tenor and actor. He appeared in the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan from 1897 to 1913, mainly in touring companies of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, following which he had a career in musical theatre on the West End stage until 1931.
Francis Henry Westerton was a British stage and silent film actor of the 19th and early 20th centuries who carved a successful career on Broadway from 1905 to 1922.
Ivan Berlyn was an English actor of stage and silent film whose career spanned four decades. An experienced and versatile actor, Beryln played ‘... weird and eccentric character parts' in everything from pantomime to Shakespeare.
Johnny Danvers was an actor and comedian and music hall performer who made a number of appearances in the annual pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries, usually with his nephew Dan Leno.
Maud Rachel Boyd was an opera singer, musical theatre actress and a pantomime principal boy.
William Haviland was a British actor-manager specialising in the works of Shakespeare who during his long stage career performed with some of the leading actors of his time including Henry Irving and Herbert Beerbohm Tree.
Amy Coleridge was a British actress who had a successful career playing in Shakespeare's plays in South Africa as well as in her home country. She acted in the companies of Henry Irving and John Martin-Harvey.
Ouida MacDermott was a British singer and actress whose career was mainly in music hall and as a principal boy in pantomime during the Edwardian era and who appeared on one of the first television broadcasts in 1930.
Ada Ferrar was a British actress of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Otho Stuart was a British actor of the late 19th and early 20th-centuries who specialised in performing in the plays of Shakespeare. Stuart played the range of Shakespearean leading men, both with the Company of F. R. Benson and with his own Company during his management of the Adelphi Theatre in London. Of independent means, he used his own money to help finance Benson's productions and his own. The theatre critic J. C. Trewin described him as 'one of the handsomest Oberons of all time.'
Roxy Barton was an Australian actress who had a theatrical career in London.