Ronald Adam (actor)

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Ronald Adam

Actor Ronald Adam.gif
Ronald George Hinings Adams

(1896-12-31)31 December 1896
Died28 March 1979(1979-03-28) (aged 82)
London, England, UK
Years active1914–1978
Spouse(s)Tanzi Cutava Barozzi
Allyne Dorothy Franks
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Years of service
  • 1914–1918 (WWI)
  • 1939–1945 (WWII)
Rank Wing commander
Service number 76367
Website Profile at Traces of War

Ronald George Hinings Adams OBE (31 December 1896 – 28 March 1979), known professionally as Ronald Adam, was a British officer of the RFC and RAF, an actor on stage and screen, and a successful theatre manager.


Early life

Adam was born in Bromyard, Herefordshire on 31 December 1896, the son of Blake Adams and his wife Mona Robin. His parents and grandparents were all in the theatrical profession. He was educated at University College School. [1]

First World War

When still only 17 years old Adams volunteered to join the British Army on the outbreak of the First World War. On 2 December 1914 he was commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the 15th (Reserve) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Adams soon transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and served as an observer with No. 18 Squadron in France, before returning home to re-train as a pilot.

Once qualified as a pilot, Adams remained in Britain and flew Sopwith Camels with No. 44 Squadron on Home Defence duties. The squadron was based at Hainault Farm aerodrome in Essex and was pioneering the use of night-fighters against Zeppelin raids on London. He was then posted back to France, still on Sopwith Camels, to No. 73 Squadron, at Champien.

On 1 April 1918, the Royal Flying Corps amalgamated with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) to become the Royal Air Force (RAF), but Adams had barely had time to get used to the new title before he was shot down, on 7 April 1918, near Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France, either by Hans Kirschstein, or possibly Manfred von Richthofen and captured. Adams was badly wounded in the engagement and on the evening of his capture he was visited by a German orderly who passed on the compliments of von Richthofen. Adams spent eight months in hospitals and prison camps before he was repatriated on 17 December 1918. [2] [3]

Acting career

After the war he trained as a chartered accountant, but his interest moved to theatre. He dropped the final "s" from his surname and adopted the stage name "Ronald Adam". From 1924 to 1926, he was engaged as manager for Leslie Henson and Dion Titheradge, and at the Little, His Majesty's, and Strand theatres. He entered on the management of the Embassy Theatre, in April 1932, with the production of Madame Pepita, and made over 150 new productions and revivals from 1932 to 1939. Thirty of his productions were transferred to various West End theatres, including Ten Minute Alibi, Close Quarters, The Dominant Sex, Professor Bernhardi and Judgment Day. He presented several plays on tour, and acted in many of them, both at the Embassy and on their transfer. [1]

He made his film debut with Strange Boarders , The Drum (both 1938) and Too Dangerous to Live (1939). [4] [5] Meanwhile, he continued with live theatre. At the Old Vic in June 1939 he played Lord Stagmantle in The Ascent of F6 and at the Phoenix in November 1939, Judge Tsankov in Judgment Day. He was director of Howard and Wyndham's Repertory Seasons in Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1938–39. [1]

Second World War

On the outbreak of the Second World War Adam rejoined the RAF as a wing commander and served from 1939 to 1945. During the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 he was the Fighter Controller for the Hornchurch sector. It was Adam's job to co-ordinate the fighter command interceptions by using data gathered by radar and ground observers and then to dispatch fighters to intercept.There exists brief film footage of him in this role and can often be seen in documentaries on the war in the air. [2] Jeffrey Quill, the distinguished Spitfire test pilot on attachment to 65 Squadron at Hornchurch during the Battle of Britain, wrote of Adam: 'Apart from being highly competent at the actual job, his voice had a quality of calm and unhesitating certainty. The contribution of such men to the outcome of the Battle of Britain was incalculable.' [6]

During the war he continued to take part in films, for example as a German bomber chief in The Lion Has Wings (1939), as Mons. Besnard in At the Villa Rose (1940) and as Sir Charles Fawcett in The Foreman Went to France (1942). [5]

Postwar period

Adam was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1946. [4]

After 1946 he continued to act in live theatre. At the Garrick in March 1950 he played Mr Gibb in Mr Gillie. [1] He made his Broadway debut in December 1951 in Antony and Cleopatra at the Ziegfeld Theatre. [4] In 1954 he featured in William Douglas Home's comedy The Manor of Northstead in the West End. [7]

His main activity at this stage, however, was in film and television. From 1946 to 1978 he took part in over 140 film or television productions. [5] He portrayed the Group Controller in Angels One Five , a 1952 British war film about the Battle of Britain (Adam reprised his actual wartime role as a fighter Controller).

Selected filmography

Personal life

He married firstly Tanzi Cutava Barozzi; the marriage was dissolved. His second wife was Allyne Dorothy Franks. He had two children, Jane and David. [4] After the Second World War Ronald Adam lived in Surbiton, Surrey, and died on 28 March 1979.

Written works

Adam was part-adaptor of Professor Bernhardi and The Melody That Got Lost, among other works. He was the author of the plays An English Summer (1948), A Wind on the Heath (1949) and Marriage Settlement (1950), which he also produced.

He published a book on his theatrical memories:

In the middle of the war he wrote two novels arising from his experiences in the RAF. Initially they were published using the pseudonym "Blake",

Both of these were later republished under his own name. He wrote again about his wartime experiences in:

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Who's Who in the Theatre: Adam, Ronald
  2. 1 2 IMDb biography
  3. Jon Guttman (2008). Sopwith Camel Vs Fokker Dr I: Western Front 1917-18. Osprey Publishing. ISBN   978-1-84603-293-6.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Paul Donnelley (2003). Fade to black: a book of movie obituaries. Omnibus Press. ISBN   978-0-7119-9512-3.
  5. 1 2 3 IMDb films by year
  6. Quill, Jeffrey (2008). Spitfire: a Test Pilot's Story (Sixth ed.). Crecy Publishing. p. 190.
  7. "Production of The Manor of Northstead | Theatricalia".