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Famous Like Me > Actor > A > Henry Ainley

Profile of Henry Ainley on Famous Like Me

Name: Henry Ainley  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 21st August 1879
Place of Birth: Morley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, UK
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Henry Hinchliffe Ainley (21 August 1879 - 31 October 1945) was an English Shakespearean stage and screen actor, and father of actors Richard Ainley, Sam Ainley and Anthony Ainley.

He was born in Belle Vue Terrace in Morley, Leeds and baptised at St. George's Parish Church, but moved to London to pursue his career as an actor. He made his professional stage debut for F.R. Benson's company of actors and later joined Herbert Beerbohm Tree's company. He found fame inn 1902 as Paolo in Paolo and Francesca.

Shakespearean roles

Ainley's first stage role was as a messenger in Macbeth. He subsequently appeared in Henry V at the Lyceum in London and returned to Leeds to play at the Grand Theatre. Later roles included Oliver Cromwell, Marcus Antonius in Julius Caesar and Macbeth himself. He played Malvolio (1912) and Leontes under the direction of Granville Barker and portrayed Hamlet several times, including a 1930 production that was chosen for a Royal Command Performance.

John Gielgud, writing in the Sunday Times in 1996, described Ainley's Prospero as "disastrous":

"He was apt to get his magic wand tangled in his robes, and his concentration was distracted by the glances he kept stealing as Ariel (played by a popular musical comedy star, Winifred Barnes) flew above his head on a wire at frequent intervals during his long speeches."

Other roles

Ainley played Joseph Quinney in Quinneys' on stage in 1915 and on film in 1919. He appeared in A. A. Milne's The Dover Road opposite Athene Seyler in 1922 and as the Bishop of Chelsea in Bernard Shaw's Getting Married at the Haymarket Theatre. In 1929, he played James Fraser in St. John Ervine's The First Mrs. Fraser, a role he reprised for the film version in 1932. He also starred in stage and radio productions of James Elroy Flecker's Hassan.

By World War I, Ainley had begun acting in motion pictures. Screen credits include Henry VIII, The Prisoner of Zenda and As You Like It, a 1936 film which also featured his son Richard and Laurence Olivier.

Ainley's own theatre company launched the stage career of Robert Eddison. In 1932, Ainley was part of the effort to save the debt-laden Sadler's Wells theatre. According to a report in The Times dated 15 March 1932, Ainley considered Sadler's Wells stalwart Phelps the "greatest actor of all" and Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson "the greatest of Hamlets".

"'Do let us keep it going', he said. 'Incidentally,' added Mr Ainley in lighter vein, 'I may want a job myself and my son (Richard Riddell) is acting there, and I do not want him to lose his job, as I cannot afford to keep him.'"

Ainley died in London and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Henry Ainley