Frederick Kerr

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Frederick Kerr
Born Frederick Grinham Keen
(1858-10-11)11 October 1858
London, England, UK
Died 3 May 1933(1933-05-03) (aged 74)
London, England, UK
Cause of death Lung cancer
Resting place Golders Green Crematorium
Occupation Actor/theatrical manager
Years active 1882–1933
Spouse(s) Lucy Dowson

Frederick Kerr (born Frederick Grinham Keen, 11 October 1858 – 3 May 1933) was an English actor who appeared on stage in both London and New York and in British and American films; he also worked as a major theatrical manager in London.

Early life[edit]

Frederick Kerr was born Frederick Grinham Keen on 11 October 1858, in London. As a youth just out of Cambridge, he went to New York City around 1880 and worked as a sketch artist, when sheer chance turned him into an actor. He was living in a boarding house on 7th Avenue, where a number of theatrical people also lived (among them Henry Miller, who eventually became his manager). Osmond Tearle, an actor living there, heard from his own producer that an Englishman was needed for a production of The School for Scandal. Tearle recruited Frederick, who got the part in January 1882 (which is also likely the moment he took the stage surname of Kerr). Kerr appeared in several more plays in New York City that year, but left for Britain to appear in a London play in December 1882. Over the next fifty years, he travelled back and forth across the Atlantic several times for theatrical work both in New York City and in London.[1]

Film career[edit]

He appeared in 19 films between 1916 and 1933. He is best known as the old Baron Frankenstein in Frankenstein (1931). Due to Kerr's unexpected death, the role of Baron Frankenstein was written out of the sequel Bride of Frankenstein, but is mentioned in various scenes.


Theatre career[edit]

He also acted on stage, becoming actor-manager of the Vaudeville Theatre in London in 1895[2] and later managing the Royal Court Theatre;[3] He starred in Public Opinion at the Wyndhams Theatre in 1905 and also as the titular pirate in George Bernard Shaw's Captain Brassbound's Conversion at the Court Theatre in 1906.[4]

Writing career[edit]

His memoirs were published in 1930 under the title Recollections of a Defective Memory.[2][5]

Personal life and death[edit]

Kerr's wife was Lucy Dowson — they had one son, Geoffrey Kerr, who followed in his father's theatrical footsteps. His grandson was actor John Kerr.

Kerr was a heavy smoker and suffered from obesity in his later years. He died from lung cancer in London on 3 May 1933 at the age of 74. His interment was at Golders Green Crematorium.


  1. ^ "FRED—THE KERRS—GEOFFREY" New York Times Drama/Music/Fashion/Screen, November 7, 1920, page 88 (available online at the New York Times archive
  2. ^ a b Harris, Frank; Gallagher, John F. (1991). My Life and Loves. Grove Press. p. 815. 
  3. ^ Lowndes, Marie Belloc; Lowndes, Susan (1971). Diaries and Letters of Marie Belloc Lowndes, 1911–1947. Chatto & Windus. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Bernard; Wells, H. G (1995). Laurence, Dan H., ed. Selected Correspondence of Bernard Shaw. Smith, J. Percy. University of Toronto Press. p. 41. 
  5. ^ Kerr, Frederick (1930). Recollections of a Defective Memory. T. Butterworth. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 

External links[edit]