Henry Woolf

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Henry Woolf
Born (1930-01-20) 20 January 1930 (age 88)
Holborn, London, England
Occupation Actor, Director
Years active 1957– present
Spouse(s) Susan Williamson (1965-present)

Henry Woolf, SOM (born 20 January 1930 in Holborn, London) is a British actor, theatre director and teacher of acting, drama and theatre who lives in Canada, and a longtime friend and collaborator of 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, having stimulated Pinter to write his first play, The Room (1957), in 1956. Woolf served as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan from 1983 to 1997 and as artistic director of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan from 1991 until 2001.

Personal history and educational background[edit]

Born to Jewish parents in London in 1930, Henry Woolf was educated at Hackney Downs School, where he met Harold Pinter; he and Pinter were friends and collaborators for over 60 years.[1] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of London and then pursued a postgraduate course in directing at the University of Bristol, before going to the United States, to earn a postgraduate diploma from the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.[citation needed] While doing his directing course at Bristol, he commissioned and directed Harold Pinter's first play, The Room (1957), in which he also originated the role of Mr Kidd.[1]

In 1978, with his wife, actress/director Susan Williamson, whom he married in 1965, Woolf moved to Canada where he took a teaching position at the University of Alberta Drama Department. By 1983 they had settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where they currently reside. They have four children.

Professional career[edit]

His film credits include San Ferry Ann (1965), Marat/Sade (1967), Tell Me Lies (1968), The Lion in Winter (1968), Great Catherine (1968), The Bed Sitting Room (1969), Alfred the Great (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Love Pill (1972), Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973), Galileo (1975), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Rogue Male (1976), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978), Gorky Park (1983), Superman III (1983) and Maid to Order (1987). In All You Need Is Cash (1978), a film by the Rutles (a fictional mock-Beatles band jointly created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes), Woolf played a character named Arthur Sultan, a fictional spoof of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He still makes occasional film appearances, in the 2004 short film, Of Note and in the 2007 short film smallfilm.

On British television he played the Man in Harold Pinter's one-man play Monologue (1973); parts in Rutland Weekend Television (1975) and The Sweeney (1975); the Collector in the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers (1977); served as the host of the 1970s pre-school British educational series Words and Pictures; and performed the role of Doctor Cornelius in the BBC adaptation of Prince Caspian (1989). Woolf also played a recurring role in Steptoe and Son (1973) as local gangster Frankie Barrow.

Woolf joined the faculty of the University of Saskatchewan in 1983, was promoted to professor in 1990, also serving as head of its Drama Department, and received the university's Master Teacher Award in 1994, before retiring in 1997, at the Canadian mandatory retirement age of 67.[2] Woolf also served as artistic director of the annual summer Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival, in Saskatoon, from 1991[3] until his retirement from that position in 2001. In 2001 Woolf was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

In March 2003, Woolf directed an all-female production of Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, at the University of Winnipeg.[4]

In April 2007, he reprised his roles as Mr Kidd in a production of Pinter's The Room (1957), marking the 50th anniversary of the original production, and as the Man in Pinter's Monologue (1973), both of which occurred at the University of Leeds conference Artist and Citizen: 50 Years of Performing Pinter.[5] He is a member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.[6] Henry Woolf received the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal on February 17, 2006 Saskatchewan Centennial Medal.[7]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Henry Woolf, "My 60 Years in Harold's Gang", The Guardian 12 July 2007, Stage, accessed 21 August 2008.
  2. ^ "An Exclusive Neilinnes.org Interview with Henry Woolf (Arthur Sultan)" Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine., neilinnes.org (Official Website of Neil Innes) 26 May 2005, updated 25 July 2005, accessed 23 August 2008.
  3. ^ http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/artists/henry-woolf[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Media Release: Renowned British Actor Henry Woolf Directs All-Female Twelfth Night at UWinnipeg", uwinnipeg.ca (University of Winnipeg) 10 March 2003, accessed 23 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Artist and Citizen: 50 years of Performing Pinter" Archived 21 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds, 12–14 April 2007. (Includes hyperlinked "Conference Schedule"[dead link].)
  6. ^ "Saskatchewan Order of Merit". 
  7. ^ https://www.usask.ca/greenandwhite/issues/2006/spring2006/departments/class_notes.php.  Missing or empty |title= (help)


External links[edit]