||This biography includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but the sources of this biography remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (February 2009)|
|Born||Oliver Peters Heggie
17 September 1877
memorial stone incorrectly says 1879
Angaston, South Australia
|Died||7 February 1936
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Lillian C (1885–1974) 3 children|
Oliver Peters Heggie (17 September 1877 – 7 February 1936) was an Australian film and theatre actor.
He was born at Angaston, South Australia to a local sheep farmer and educated at Whinham College and the Adelaide Conservatoire of Music. He died in Los Angeles of pneumonia. He is buried at Woodside Cemetery, Yarmouth Port, Barnstable County, Massachusetts.
He appeared in local amateur dramatic companies before leaving his clerk position with the Union Bank, to pursue a career in acting and make his debut in Stolen Kisses in 1899 at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide.
He made his professional debut in A Message from Mars at the Palace, Sydney, in 1900. He later took the part of the Messenger in the same play at the Bijou, Melbourne, and in the production that toured Australia and New Zealand under Walter Hawtrey. After appearing in productions of The Three Musketeers, Secret Service and The Christian, he left Australia in 1906 for England and was engaged firstly in a production at Margate on England's south coast, before appearing on the London stage at the Criterion Theatre in a one-acter. He came to the notice of Miss Ellen Terry with his " Pippy" in the Lemonade Boy (October 1906). She hired him in January 1907 for her tour of America with Nance Oldfield (as Alexander Oldworthy) and Captain Brassbound's Conversion (Osman).
His subsequent London stage appearances included in Stingaree (as Sam) at the Queen's Theatre, and in 1909 as Henry French in The Strife, that ran in matinees at the Duke of York's, and for the evening performances at the Haymarket, as Julius Baker in George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance, in Galworthy's Justice and in Pinero's Trelawny of The Wells. He played Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band, a portrayal much admired by Arthur Conan Doyle. His cabman in Haddon Chambers' Passers By of 1911 was praised also.
After playing Maximilian Cutts in productions of The New Sin at the Court and the Criterion in early 1912, he took his own production to America. It played firstly on 15 October 1912 at Wallack's Theatre, New York. On 26 October 1914, he appeared at the same house as Uriah Heep in an adaptation of David Copperfield called The Highway of Life. In England, he appeared in J. M. Barrie's short The Dramatists Get What They Want at the Hippodrome and took the lead in Androcles and The Lion (playing Androcles) at St James's. His Rev. Cyril Smith in G. K. Chesterton's maiden play Magic in 1914 at the Little Theatre was also highly praised.
Transferring to Broadway, he appeared in 1915 in the Man Who Married A Dumb Wife opposite Lillah McCarthy in its first presentation on an English speaking stage, reprised his role in Androcles, as Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and in Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma. He followed by playing solicitor's managing clerk Robert Cokeson in Justice (1916), Oliver Blayds in The Truth about Blayds (1922), and Old Man Minick in Minick (1924). He took part in numerous revivals of classics ranging from Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1918) to Diggory in She Stoops to Conquer in 1928.
In 1927, he was seen by Norma Shearer and her husband, producer Irving Thalberg, in the Players Club revival of Trelawny of the Wells. The pair persuaded Heggie to move to Hollywood, where he made his first film appearance in the silent film The Actress (1928) starring Shearer and based on the stage show. The film is now considered a lost film. Other Broadway appearances included Spellbound and Out of the Sea in 1927, The Beaux Stratagem in 1928, They Don't Mean Any Harm, and a revival of The Truth About Blayds in 1932. His later film appearances include as Louis XI of France in the The Vagabond King (1930) and Anne Shirley's adoptive father in Anne of Green Gables (1934). His last work on Broadway was as William Owen in The Green Bay Tree (1933).
Heggie appeared in at least 27 films, including The Count of Monte Cristo (1934 film), The Letter, The Mysterious Doctor Fu Manchu, The Mighty, The Wheel of Life, The Bad Man, The Swan, Too Young To Marry, One Romantic Night, East Lynne (1931), The Playboy of Paris, Sunny, Madame Jule, Devotion, Peck's Bad Boy, Ginger, and Smilin' Through, between 1928 and his death in 1936.
He is probably best known now for his role as the blind hermit in the film Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Isolated at home in the woods, he befriends the injured monster (Boris Karloff), only for two hunters to intrude and destroy the friendship, and his home.