Cecil Kellaway

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Cecil Kellaway
Cecil Kellaway in The Postman Always Rings Twice trailer.jpg
from the trailer for
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Born Cecil Lawriston Kellaway[1]
(1890-08-22)22 August 1890
Cape Town, Cape Colony (present-day Cape Town, South Africa)
Died 28 February 1973(1973-02-28) (aged 82)
West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Years active 1921–1972
Spouse(s) Doreen Elizabeth Joubert (m. 1919–1973; his death); 2 sons
Children Peter Kellaway, Bryan Kellaway

Cecil Lawriston Kellaway (22 August 1890 – 28 February 1973)[2] was a South African–born American character actor.[3] He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both The Luck of the Irish (1948) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).


Early life[edit]

Cecil Kellaway was born on 27 August 1890 in Cape Town, South Africa. He was the son of English parents, Edwin John Kellaway, an architect and engineer, and his wife Rebecca Annie, née Brebner. Edwin Kellaway had come to South Africa to help build the Houses of Parliament and was a good friend of Cecil Rhodes, who was Cecil's godfather.[4]

He was interested in acting from an early age.[5][n 1] He was educated at the Normal College, Cape Town, and in England at Bradford Grammar School. He studied engineering and on his return to South Africa was employed in an engineering firm. However the lure of acting was too strong and he became a full-time actor, making his debut in Potash and Perlmutter.[4][6][7]

He briefly served in the army in 1914 but was invalided out.[8]

He toured for three years through China, Japan, Siam, Borneo, Malaya, North and South Africa, and Europe.


Kellaway arrived in Australia in 1921 under contract to J. C. Williamson Ltd. He had a notable success as the comic father of four daughters in A Night Out which he played in 1922, 1924, 1926, and 1931. He acted for Williamsons over sixteen years, mostly in musical comedies.

Kellaway made his film debut in the lead of The Hayseeds (1933), a popular local comedy.

After receiving acclaim for his main role in the Australian Cinesound film It Isn't Done (1937), for which he also provided the original story, he was screen-tested by RKO Pictures and put under contract.[9]

Return to Australia[edit]

Kellaway returned to Australia for a second Cinesound film, Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1938).


Kellaway had a long career as a Hollywood character actor, with prominent roles in William Wyler's Wuthering Heights (1939), The House of the Seven Gables (1940), The Letter (1940), Kitty (1945) (giving an excellent performance as painter Thomas Gainsborough), (1945), Love Letters (1945), as the ill-fated husband of Lana Turner's character in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), Harvey (1950), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).[10]

He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for The Luck of the Irish in 1948 and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967.[11]

In 1959, he made a guest appearance on Perry Mason as chemist and murderer Darrell Metcalf in "The Case of the Glittering Goldfish". In 1961, Kellaway guest starred as MacKay in the episode "Incident In The Middle of Nowhere" on CBS's Rawhide.[citation needed]. In 1964, he played Santa Claus in the "Visions of Sugarplums" episode of "Bewitched". In 1967, Kellaway played the part of a lonely, megawealthy much older suitor of Ann Marie (played by Marlo Thomas) in an episode of That Girl.[10]he also appeared as Admiral Snedecker in a1969 episode of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir".

Personal Life[edit]

Kellaway married Doreen Elizabeth Joubert in Johannesburg on 15 November 1919.

His brother Alec Kellaway became a notable actor in his own right. His other brother Leion became ballet-master for Edouard Borovansky and the Australian Ballet.

His cousins were fellow actors Edmund Gwenn and Arthur Chesney.


Kellaway died after a long illness at a West Los Angeles convalescent home on February 28, 1973. He was survived by his wife, two sons, and four grandchildren. His interment was at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[10]

Selected filmography[edit]

Select Theatre Credits[edit]

  • Potash and Perlmutter - South Africa[4]
  • The Prince of Pilsen - South Africa[12]
  • The Little Whopper (1921)[13]
  • Monseuir Beaucaire (1917) - toured India and Africa[14]
  • A Night Out (Jan-Sept 1922) - Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide
  • Mary (Oct 1922-April 1923) - Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney
  • A Night Out (April 1923) - Sydney
  • The Cabaret Girl (Aug 1923-March 1924)
  • Kissing Time (May 1924) - Melbourne
  • Whirled into Happiness (June-July 1924) - Melbourne
  • Katja (December 1925) - Sydney
  • The Belle of New York
  • Primrose (August 1925) - Sydney
  • Frasquita (April 1927) - Sydney
  • Princess Charming (July 1928) - Brisbane
  • Hold Everything (July 1929)
  • Florodora (1931)
  • A Warm Corner (Sept 1931)
  • Sons o' Guns (1931)
  • Blue Roses (April-August 1932) - Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Wellington, Auckland
  • Hold my Hand (October 1932) - Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney
  • The Gipsy Princess
  • The Dubarry (July 1934) - Theatre Royal, Adelaide
  • Music in the Air (July 1934) - Theatre Royal, Adelaide
  • Roberta (Marc 1935) - Theatre Royal, Sydney
  • High Jinks (May 1935) - Theatre Royal, Sydney
  • Ball at the Savoy (July 1935) - Adelaide
  • A Southern Maid (1937)
  • The Merry Widow - with Gladys Moncrieff


  1. ^ Some sources, including the German Wikipedia page at de:Cecil Kellaway, claim he was born in 1893; the page acknowledges the confusion and claims a majority of sources refer to 1893 as his birth year. Kellaway's Petition for Naturalization as a United States Citizen (#(#175514), filed in 1951, cites 1890.
  1. ^ Cecil Lawriston Kellaway (born 1890) filed a Petition (#175514) for Naturalization as a United States citizen in 1951; certificate #7411287 (per ancestry.com)
  2. ^ "Kellaway, Cecil (1890–1973)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Obituary, Variety, 7 March 1973, page 78.
  4. ^ a b c "GREENROOM GOSSIP". Table Talk (3303). Victoria, Australia. 27 August 1931. p. 16. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "THE KELLAWAY FAMILY ON STAGE AND SCREEN". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 August 1938. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Character Actor Cecil Kellaway is Dead at 79.". Daily Times. 1 March 1973. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "The THEATRE & its PEOPLE". Table Talk (2032). Victoria, Australia. 17 July 1924. p. 21. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "Round the Shows". News. V, (629). South Australia. 30 July 1925. p. 2 (HOME EDITION). Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "Cecil Kellaway profile". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 June 1937. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Cecil Kellaway at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ "Character Actor Cecil Kellaway is Dead". Daily Times. 1 March 1973. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  12. ^ ""Love Letters is Strong Psychological Fare". The Mercury. CLXIII, (23,534). Tasmania, Australia. 11 May 1946. p. 3 (The Mercury Magazine). Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  13. ^ "THE LITTLE WHOPPER". Sunday Times (1851). New South Wales, Australia. 17 July 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  14. ^ "News From Hollywood". The Age (28,363). Victoria, Australia. 20 March 1946. p. 8. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]