Friday, July 21, 2017

Born Today July 21: C. Aubrey Smith


Sir Charles Aubrey Smith (who went professionally by the name of C. Aubrey Smith), sportsman, stage & film actor, was born on this day in London, England.  Smith's father was a medical doctor in London.  Smith's education included the Charterhouse School and St. Johns College Cambridge.  Before becoming a professional cricket player, he spent time in South Africa as a gold prospector (as a matter of trivia: he came down with pneumonia while there and was wrongly pronounced dead).  He had played cricket while at Cambridge and would eventually played with in South Africa, assisting the English team there to a victory over the South African team, despite the home field advantage.  Later on in life, he would found a cricket club in Hollywood (a number of British expats were fast members, amongst them Boris Karloff).  He was considered one the very best bowlers in the game, and his odd curved bowling landed him with the nickname "Round the Corner Smith." Smith began acting on the London stage in 1895.  He did not land in movies until 20 years.  The first film that he appeared was made on the east coast in the USA: The Builder of Bridges (1915) was made for Frohman Amusement and filmed in Atlantic City. He remained at Frohman stateside until 1916, when he returned to the UK.  The first UK film that he appeared in came in 1918 Red Pottage made for Ideal.   He remained in the English film industry through 1924, though the number of films he made diminished by the year (I'm guessing as a stage actor, silent film acting was restricting).  He then show s up in the American film The Rejected Woman in 1924.  He wouldn't show up in another film until 1928 when he had a very small part in King Vidor's very famous partial silent Show People--the age of the talking film was dawning.  Show People would be the last film that he made in the 1920's.  His first full sound film came in a British made mono entitled Such Is The Law.  After making one more British film, he then found very, very steady work in Hollywood.  He frequently played polite military types.  And, he wound up in a number of very big productions: Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), and the 1937 version of The Prisoner Of Zenda (which is based on the same play that launched him to popularity on the stage in the 1890's).  Smith worked all the way up to the time of his death; with his last film Little Women (1959) being released after his death.  His died in Beverly Hills on the 20th of December 1948 of pneumonia.  He had requested that his remains be cremated and then buried in his mother's grave in St. Leonard's churchyard in Hove, Sussex.

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This really puts in my mind to one of my favorite songs by Roy Harper "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease"

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