John E. C. Appleton

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John Edward Corby Appleton (20 October 1905 – 13 September 1990)[1] was an Australian theatre and radio director and actor prominent in the 1950s.

Born in Walham Green, England the oldest of eight children of an English father and an Australian-born mother,[2] Frank and Irene,[3] he was educated at Fort Street Boys' High School.[4] He joined the Sydney Evening News as a journalist but after six years was sacked for supporting striking workers. During this time he had been taking night classes at Julian Ashton's art school[2] and started a small business painting 24-sheet posters for billboards.

Amateur theatre[edit]

In 1928 he joined the Sydney Players Club, where his father was active,[5] initially as an actor then producer, generally referred to as "Jack Appleton". He then joined Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre, where he gained further experience as actor and producer.

Professional and Wartime experience[edit]

At least partly because of his horsemanship, he was engaged to play Dan Kelly[6] in the 1934 film "When the Kellys Rode",[7] which failed to find a distributor. In 1936 he joined radio 2GB's "B.S.A. Players" (from 1938 known as the "Macquarie Players"), which led to further employment with 2GB. There he teamed up with Jack Davey and together set up an independent production company as his producer and announcer.

In 1940 he was engaged to fellow Independent Theatre actor Sheila Carter[8] (1918–) They married and by war's end had one child. He spent the war years with the RAAF firstly with the American 19th Bomber Group, planning the secret Hobert (spelling?) airfield in Northern Australia, then as Intelligence Officer with 75 Squadron for 14 months. He was then involved in a group organising escape lines from New Britain, followed by a stint with MI9.[2] His radio production company continued to grow. One notable client, from 1947 to 1949, was Robert Menzies' Liberal Party.

Australian Broadcasting Commission[edit]

He was appointed Supervisor of Children's Programmes for ABC Radio in 1952. By this time he was married with three daughters.[2] He took a very hands-on approach to the running of the Children's Session, including persuading Ruth Park to write him a part, "Tabby Cat", in the Muddle-Headed Wombat serial.[2] He was outspoken on the damaging effects of TV on children's minds.[9] With his conservative outlook and RAAF demeanor, he was treated as an outsider by the governing clique of the ABC. He retired in October 1970.[2]

Theatre[edit]

He acted in a great number of amateur productions (aided by his very "proper" English accent) including:

  • The School for Scandal (Sheridan) with Sydney Players' Club at St James' Hall[10]
  • Scrapped (Alma Brosnan) with Turret Theatre at their Milsons Point clubhouse[11]
  • The Passion Flower (Benavente) with Turret Theatre [12]
  • The Last Enemy (Frank Harvey - an Australian writer) with Sydney Players' Club at St James' Hall[13]
  • Dutch Courage (Mac Luker - an Australian writer) with Sydney Players' Club at St James' Hall[14]
  • Intruders (Mac Luker - an Australian writer) with Sydney Players' Club at St James' Hall[15]
  • Art and Mrs Bottle (Benn Levy) with Sydney Players' Club at St James' Hall[16]
  • The Shadow of a Gunman (Sean O'Casey) with Independent Theatre at its clubrooms 175 Pitt St.[17]
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) with Independent Theatre [18]
  • Thunder Rock (Robert Ardrey) with Independent Theatre group[19]

As assistant producer

He served as producer for the Junior Theatre League and acted as judge for several of its annual drama festivals.[21] and was producer for the Sydney Players Club based at St James's Hall:

and:

  • Judgment Day (Elmer Rice) assisting Doris Fitton for Independent Theatre at the Conservatorium of Music.[36]
  • Two Gentlemen of Soho (A. P. Herbert) for Independent Theatre at its clubrooms 175 Pitt St.[37]
  • There Is No Armour (by Australian writer Lynn Foster) for Independent Theatre at its clubrooms 175 Pitt St.[38]
  • Misalliance (George Bernard Shaw) for John Alden at St James' Theatre, North Sydney[39]
  • It All Takes Time (by Australian writer John Watson) for Independent Theatre at St James' Theatre, North Sydney[40]

at the Mercury Theatre (St James's Hall renamed)

and at the Metropolitan (for whom?):

Radio[edit]

  • The Terrible Twins (2CH play) (actor)[47]
  • Beau Geste (2CH serial) (as "Digby")[48]
  • The New Adventures of Tiger Bryce (2CH serial)(as actor)[49]
  • Adventure (2UW series)[50]
  • Dithering with Davey (2GB, 2UE series)[50][51]
  • Dr Davey, the Happiest Man on Earth (2GB series)[50][52]
  • 100 Years in Australia (2GB, 2CA series)[50][53]
  • The Heroic Past (2UE series)[50]
  • These Old Homes (2GB, 2UE) series[50]
  • The Romance of Canada (2GB series)[54]
  • Uncle Remus[50]
  • Hester's Diary (2CH serial)[55]
  • Death Takes Small Bites (2UW series)[50][56]
  • Death By Horoscope (2UW 3DB series)[50][57]
  • Three Roads to Destiny (3KZ serial)[50]
  • ABC Children's Hour[58]

Other Interests[edit]

He wrote a number of radio broadcasts for commercial radio on historic Australian homes, the scripts of which are held in the Mitchell Library.

He was active in the Pony Club movement.

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Australian Horse & Pony Handbook (ill. Walter Stackpool) Angus & Robertson 1986 ISBN 0-207-15301-9
(a revised edition of his Horse & Pony Handbook first pub. 1972)

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald, 18 September 1990
  2. ^ a b c d e f Johnson, Rob Golden Age of the Argonauts Hodder and Stoughton 1997 ISBN 0-7336-0528-1
  3. ^ SMH 28 January 1941
  4. ^ SMH 25 June 1953
  5. ^ SMH 14 July 1928
  6. ^ SMH 5 January 1934
  7. ^ http://www.ironoutlaw.com/html/movies.html
  8. ^ SMH 27 June 1940
  9. ^ ''SMH 7 October 1954
  10. ^ SMH Saturday 22 September 1928
  11. ^ SMH 14 June 1929
  12. ^ SMH 5 August 1929
  13. ^ SMH 3 November 1930
  14. ^ SMH 8 August 1932
  15. ^ SMH 18 March 1935
  16. ^ Players Club - Art and Mrs Bottle Sydney Morning Herald 16 April 1932 p.17 accessed 5 September 2011
  17. ^ SMH 7 January 1939
  18. ^ SMH 29 July 1940
  19. ^ SMH 17 March 1941
  20. ^ SMH 13 July 1929
  21. ^ SMH 4 July 1936
  22. ^ SMH 6 August 1929
  23. ^ SMH 14 November 1932
  24. ^ SMH 6 October 1934
  25. ^ SMH 17 November 1934
  26. ^ SMH 17 December 1934
  27. ^ SMH 27 April 1935
  28. ^ SMH 6 July 1935
  29. ^ SMH 28 September 1935
  30. ^ SMH 18 November 1935
  31. ^ SMH 16 March 1936
  32. ^ SMH 16 May 1936
  33. ^ SMH 13 July 1937
  34. ^ SMH 14 August 1937
  35. ^ SMH 13 October 1937
  36. ^ SMH 21 May 1938
  37. ^ SMH 28 January 1939
  38. ^ SMH 10 July 1939
  39. ^ SMH 10 September 1951
  40. ^ SMH 17 May 1952
  41. ^ SMH 3 October 1952
  42. ^ SMH 17 October 1953
  43. ^ SMH 6 December 1953
  44. ^ SMH 7 August 1952
  45. ^ SMH 7 May 1954
  46. ^ SMH 7 August 1954
  47. ^ SMH 5 December 1934
  48. ^ SMH 29 May 1935
  49. ^ SMH 20 June 1935
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i j ScreenSound Australia (prev. National Film and Sound Archives)
  51. ^ SMH 21 May 1938
  52. ^ Melbourne Argus 27 January 1940
  53. ^ SMH 6 March 1940
  54. ^ SMH 8 April 1947
  55. ^ SMH 3 September 1950
  56. ^ 17 September 1950
  57. ^ Melbourne Argus 8 June 1954
  58. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 2 September 1954