John Clements (actor)

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John Clements
John Clements in 1954
Born(1910-04-25)25 April 1910
Died6 April 1988(1988-04-06) (aged 77)
Years active1935–1982
  • Inga Maria Lillemor Ahlgren
    (married 1936–1946)
  • Kay Hammond
    (married 1946–1980)

Sir John Selby Clements, CBE (25 April 1910 – 6 April 1988) was a British actor and producer who worked in theatre, television and film.



Theatre career

Clements attended St Paul's School and St John's College, Cambridge. [1] He made his first professional appearance on the stage in 1930, then worked with Nigel Playfair and afterwards spent a few years in Ben Greet's Shakespearean Company. [2]

In 1935 Clements founded the Intimate Theatre, [3] a combined repertory and try-out venue, at Palmers Green. He appeared in almost 200 plays and also presented a number of plays in the West End as actor-manager-producer. [2]

Clements married the actress Kay Hammond and together they had a critical success with their West End revival of Noël Coward's play Private Lives in 1945. [4] In 1952 they both appeared in Clements's own play The Happy Marriage, an adaptation of Jean Bernard-Luc's Le Complexe de Philemon  [ fr ]. [5] Clements starred as Edward Moulton Barrett in the musical Robert and Elizabeth , a successful adaptation of The Barretts of Wimpole Street . [6]

In December 1951 Clements directed Man and Superman in the West End, and played the role of John Tanner alongside Allan Cuthbertson. [7]

Clements was the artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre from 1966 to 1973. [8]

The actor John Standing is his stepson. [9]

Film career

John Clements and Ralph Richardson in The Four Feathers (1939) Four-Feathers-1939.jpg
John Clements and Ralph Richardson in The Four Feathers (1939)

As a film actor John Clements played bit parts of increasing size for Alexander Korda's London Films in the 1930s. He made quite an impression opposite Robert Donat and Marlene Dietrich in Knight Without Armour as Poushkoff, a sensitive, conflicted young commissar who saves their lives during the Russian Revolution. [10] He came to further prominence when film director Victor Saville chose him to star opposite Ralph Richardson in South Riding (1938). [11] The two actors were reunited in the very successful The Four Feathers (1939). [12]

After that Clements's film career was somewhat intermittent, although he made a series of British war films for Ealing Studios and British Aviation Pictures, such as Convoy (1940), Ships with Wings (1942), Tomorrow We Live (1943) and as Yugoslav guerrilla leader Milosh Petrovitch in Undercover (1943). [13] He had a cameo role (as Advocate General) in Gandhi (1982). [14]

Honours and death

Clements was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1956 and was knighted in 1968. [2] He died in Brighton, East Sussex, in 1988. [8]


Selected theatre credits

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  1. "Sir John Selby Clements". Person Page - 18344. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 "Sir John Clements, Stage Veteran, Dies at 77". 10 April 1988 via
  3. Bristol, University of. "John Clements Archive | Theatre Collection | University of Bristol". Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  4. Coward, Noël (21 July 2014). Future Indefinite. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN   9781408191477 via Google Books.
  5. "Kay Hammond and John Clements in The Happy Marriage | Sommerlad, Gilbert | V&A Search the Collections". V and A Collections. 8 March 2020.
  6. "Production of Robert and Elizabeth | Theatricalia".
  7. Wearing, J. P. (16 September 2014). The London Stage 1950-1959: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   9780810893085 via Google Books.
  8. 1 2 "Obituaries : Sir John Clements, 77; Leading British Shakespearean Actor". Los Angeles Times. 10 April 1988.
  9. "John Standing – Broadway Cast & Staff". IBDB.
  10. "Knight Without Armour". Variety. 21 December 1936.
  11. "South Riding (1938) - Victor Saville | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  12. "BFI Screenonline: Four Feathers, The (1939)".
  13. "John Clements". BFI.
  14. "John Clements | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.