Frank Cellier (actor)
Cellier in The 39 Steps, 1935
23 February 1884|
Surbiton, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
|Died||27 September 1948
London, England, United Kingdom
Frank Cellier (23 February 1884 – 27 September 1948) was an English actor. Early in his career, he toured in Britain, Germany, the West Indies, America and South Africa. In the 1920s, he became known in the West End for Shakespearean character roles, among others, and also directed some plays in which he acted. Later, during the 1930s and 1940s, he also appeared in films.
François Cellier, always known as Frank, was born in Surbiton, Surrey, the only son of the conductor François Cellier, and was educated at Cranleigh School. After leaving school, he spent three years in business.
In 1903, Cellier made his first stage appearance as Clement Hale in Arthur Wing Pinero's Sweet Lavender at the Town Hall in Reigate and thereafter made acting his career, also doing some stage manager work. In the autumn of that year he went on tour with William Poel's company in Doctor Faustus, and later toured in a number of Shakespearean roles in the company of Ian Maclaren. He then extended his repertory in a wide variety of roles which he undertook on tour with the actress Florence Nellie Glossop-Harris (d. 1932), daughter of the actor-manager Augustus Harris, whom he married in 1910. She divorced him in 1925. They had a daughter, Antoinette, who became an actress and married actor Bruce Seton, and a son, Peter, who is a TV, theatre and film actor.
Cellier toured not only in Britain, but in Germany and the West Indies, and did not make his debut in London until 1914, when under his own management he appeared in Cheer, Boys, Cheer. After this he toured in America and South Africa, and did not appear again in London until 1920. "By this time," wrote The Times, "his solid merit was appreciated after his long and arduous apprenticeship."
Shakespearean and other stage roles
Once established, Cellier pursued a career balancing new commercial plays – sometimes farce, often murder drama – and classical roles. His favourite part was Hamlet, and his other Shakespeare roles included Apemantus in Timon of Athens, the title role in Henry IV, Part 2, Cassio in Othello, Touchstone in As You Like It, Angelo in Measure for Measure, Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Kent in King Lear. Two of his most celebrated roles were in The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, of which The Times said, "while he could wring the last drop of dramatic tension from the role of Shylock, he could also play Sir Toby Belch in such a way as to bring out the essence of the comedy without suggesting that the old reprobate had never known better days."
In the West End, he directed and played in numerous plays. His roles in these included the Nobleman in The Man with a Load of Mischief (1925), one of Marie Tempest's suitors in Noël Coward's The Marquise (1927), Sir Peter Teazle in The School for Scandal (1929) and the King in the Improper Duchess (1931). He starred in The Duchess of Dantzic in 1932 and directed and appeared in The Mask of Virtue (1935) with Vivien Leigh. He also appeared that year in Espionage, a play by Walter C. Hackett, at the Apollo Theatre. His final stage role was the father in Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy in 1946, which he played to great praise in London and was due to take to America but was prevented by ill-health from doing so.
Films and death
Cellier died in London in 1948 aged 64.
- The Times, 27 March 1925, p. 5
- The Times, obituary notice, 28 September 1948, p. 7
- Payne, Ben Iden. A Life in a Wooden O: Memoirs of the Theatre, p. 59, Yale University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-300-10552-5
- The Times obituary notice for François Cellier, 7 January 1914, p. 9
- The Times, 9 January 1932, p. 15
- Antoinette Cellier at the IMDB database
- The Times, 19 May 1920, p. 24
- The Times, 18 February 1921, p. 8
- The Times, 7 April 1921, p. 8
- The Times, 17 February 1923, p. 8
- The Times, 25 April 1923, p. 12
- The Times, 26 April 1923, p. 10
- The Times, 16 May 1923, p. 12
- The Play Pictorial 1930-1939, University of Kent at Canterbury
- The Manchester Guardian, 17 February 1927, p. 14