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Henry Woolf

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Henry Woolf
Born(1930-01-20)20 January 1930
Homerton, London, England
Died11 November 2021(2021-11-11) (aged 91)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Occupation(s)Actor, theatre director
Years active1957–2021
Susan Williamson
(m. 1968)

Henry Woolf, SOM (20 January 1930 – 11 November 2021) was a British actor, theatre director, and teacher of acting, drama and theatre who lived in Canada. He was 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.

Early life[edit]

Henry Woolf was born to Jewish parents in Homerton, London on January 20, 1930.[1] He was educated at Hackney Downs School, where he met Harold Pinter; he and Pinter were friends and collaborators for over 60 years.[2] 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] In the process of undertaking 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.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Woolf's 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), 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. His later film appearances include in the 2004 short film, Of Note and the 2007 short film smallfilm.

On British television, Woolf played the Man in Harold Pinter's one-man play Monologue (1973); parts in Rutland Weekend Television (1975–1976) 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). He also played a role in Steptoe and Son (1973) as local gangster Frankie Barrow, a role which had originated in Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973), the second film spin-off of the series.

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.[3] He served as artistic director of the annual summer Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival, in Saskatoon, from 1991[4] until his retirement from that position in 2001. In 2001 he 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.[5]

In April 2007, Woolf 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.[6] He was a member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.[7] He received the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal on 17 February 2006 Saskatchewan Centennial Medal.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1978, with his wife, actress/director Susan Williamson, whom he married in 1968, 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 were resident until his death. They had four children.

Woolf died on 11 November 2021, at the age of 91.[9][10][11][12][13]


Year Title Role Notes
1965 A Home of Your Own
1965 San Ferry Ann French Van Driver
1967 Marat/Sade Father
1968 Tell Me Lies Guest #27 Documentary
1968 The Lion in Winter Strolling Player
1968 Great Catherine Egrebyomka
1969 The Bed Sitting Room Electricity Man
1969 Alfred the Great Wenda
1970 Figures in a Landscape Helicopter Pilot
1972 The Ruling Class Inmate #1
1972 Savage Messiah Gendarme Uncredited
1972 The Love Pill Libido
1973 Steptoe and Son Ride Again Frankie Barrow
1975 Galileo Father Clavius
1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show The Transylvanian #18
1976 Rogue Male Ticket Seller TV movie
1977 Joseph Andrews Mr. Wilson's Companion
1978 The Hound of the Baskervilles Shopkeeper
1983 Superman III Penguin Man
1983 Gorky Park Levin
1987 Maid to Order Jailer
1990 Sylvan Lake Summer Bastini
2018 Dancing Day Mr. Doudie


  1. ^ Henry Woolf obituary The Times
  2. ^ a b Henry Woolf, "My 60 Years in Harold's Gang", The Guardian 12 July 2007, Stage, accessed 21 August 2008.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/artists/henry-woolf[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Media Release: Renowned British Actor Henry Woolf Directs All-Female Twelfth Night at UWinnipeg" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, uwinnipeg.ca (University of Winnipeg) 10 March 2003, accessed 23 August 2008.
  6. ^ "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].)
  7. ^ "Saskatchewan Order of Merit".
  8. ^ "Spring 2019 – Green & White – University of Saskatchewan".
  9. ^ RIP Henry Woolf
  10. ^ "Saskatoon theatre legend Henry Woolf dies at 91". CBC News. 14 November 2021. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Saskatoon theatre icon Henry Woolf dies at 91". CTV News. 14 November 2021. Archived from the original on 3 April 2022.
  12. ^ "Henry Woolf obituary". TheGuardian.com. 24 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Remembering the life of Henry WOOLF".


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