Cyril Ritchard

Cyril Joseph Trimnell-Ritchard (1 December 1898 – 18 December 1977), known professionally as Cyril Ritchard, was an Australian stage, screen and television actor, and director. He is probably best remembered today for his performance as Captain Hook in the Mary Martin musical production of Peter Pan. In 1945, he played Gabriele Eisenstein in Gay Rosalinda at the Palace theatre in London, a version of Strauss's Die Fledermaus by Erich Wolfgang Korngold in which he appeared with Peter Graves. The show was conducted by Richard Tauber and ran for almost a year.[1]

Cyril Ritchard
Cyril Ritchard & Eddie Mayehoff VtaSP
Ritchard (left) and Eddie Mayehoff in the play Visit to a Small Planet (1957)
Cyril Joseph Trimnell-Ritchard

1 December 1898
Died18 December 1977 (aged 79)
Years active1918–1977
Spouse(s)Madge Elliott

Life and career

Ritchard was born in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills. Both of his parents were Sydney-born themselves: Herbert Trimnell-Ritchard, a Protestant grocer, and Marguerite, a Roman Catholic who ensured her son was raised in her faith. Educated by the Jesuits at St Aloysius' College before studying at Sydney University, Cyril was a lifelong Catholic who attended Sunday Mass wherever he happened to be.

Early in his career, Ritchard played in numerous musical comedies, including Yes, Uncle! and Going Up, both in 1918 with actress Madge Elliott (who became his wife in September 1935).[2]

He achieved star status in 1954 as Captain Hook in the Broadway production of Peter Pan co-starring Mary Martin, with whom he shared the same birthday (1 December). For his work in the show, Ritchard received a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical.[3] Both Ritchard and Martin reprised their roles in the NBC television productions of the musical, beginning with a live color telecast in 1955. In 1958, he starred in the Cole Porter CBS television musical Aladdin. In 1959, he won his second Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for "The Pleasure of His Company"

He appeared onstage in Sugar (1972), and The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (1965), with Anthony Newley.[4] He was also a director, directing on Broadway The Happiest Girl in the World (1961) (in which he also appeared), Roar Like a Dove (1964)[5][6] and The Irregular Verb to Love (1963), in which he also appeared.[7]

His film appearances include a villainous role in Alfred Hitchcock's early talkie Blackmail (1929) and much later in the Tommy Steele vehicle Half a Sixpence (1967).

Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard's wedding
Ritchard's wedding photo, 1935.

Ritchard also appeared regularly on a variety of television programs in the late 1950s and 1960s. For example, he did a stint as one of the What's My Line? mystery guests on the 22 December 1957 episode of the popular Sunday night CBS-TV program.[8] In the 1950s Ritchard played the comic lead in Jacques Offenbach's operetta, La Perichole at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Later Ritchard served as a guest panelist on the Met's radio quiz show, where he was referred to as Sir Cyril, although he was never knighted.


Shortly before he died, Ritchard performed as the voice of Elrond in the Rankin/Bass television production of The Hobbit. Ritchard lived at The Langham, a famed apartment house in New York. He suffered a heart attack on 25 November 1977, aged 78, while appearing as the narrator in the Chicago touring company of Side by Side by Sondheim. He died nearly a month later in Chicago, aged 79, and was buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where he had long resided in his rural home. His funeral mass was celebrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. His wife predeceased him in 1955 as did a baby boy who died in infancy in 1939.

Selected filmography

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Pickwick Papers[9]


  1. ^ Charles Castle, This was Richard Tauber, London 1971
  2. ^ "Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard".
  3. ^ "Tony Awards, 1955", accessed 26 March 2012
  4. ^ Ritchard Listing, Broadway Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  5. ^ "Roar Like a Dove Listing", accessed 26 March 2012
  6. ^ Roar Like a Dove Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  7. ^ The Irregular Verb to Love Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  8. ^ "What's My Line?: Episode #394".
  9. ^ Kirby, Walter (December 21, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved June 8, 2015 – via open access publication – free to read

External links

13th Tony Awards

The 13th Annual Tony Awards took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom on April 12, 1959, and was broadcast on local television station WCBS-TV in New York City. The Master of Ceremonies was Bud Collyer.

Aladdin (1958 film)

Aladdin is a 1958 musical fantasy written especially for television with a book by S.J. Perelman and music and lyrics by Cole Porter, telecast in color on the DuPont Show of the Month by CBS. It was Porter's very last musical score. Columbia Records issued both monophonic and stereophonic LP's of the songs with members of the original TV cast, which included Cyril Ritchard, Dennis King, Basil Rathbone, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Geoffrey Holder (as the Genie), Sal Mineo (as Aladdin,) and Una Merkel (as Aladdin's mother). Sony Records has digitally remastered the stereo recording for release on CD.

As far as is known, the original telecast was never repeated (although videotape was in use by then), nor has it been issued on VHS or DVD. A kinescope of the 1958 broadcast survives and can be viewed at both the New York City and Beverly Hills, California, branches of The Paley Center For Media.

The musical was later presented on stage in London, premiering on December 17, 1959, at the Coliseum. Bob Monkhouse, Doretta Morrow, Ian Wallace & Ronald Shiner starred. The Musical Director was Bobby Howell. The London stage production added to the score several songs that Cole Porter had originally written for other musicals.

Blackmail (1929 film)

Blackmail is a 1929 British thriller drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anny Ondra, John Longden, and Cyril Ritchard. Based on the 1928 play of the same name by Charles Bennett, the film is about a London woman who is blackmailed after killing a man who tries to rape her.

After starting production as a silent film, British International Pictures decided to adapt Blackmail into a separate sound film. It became the first successful European talkie; a silent version was released for theaters not equipped for sound (at 6,740 feet), with the sound version (7,136 feet) released at the same time. Both versions are held in the British Film Institute collection.Blackmail is frequently cited as the first British sound feature film. Voted the best British film of 1929 in a UK poll the year it was released, in 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine ranked Blackmail as the 59th best British film ever.

Blue Mountain Melody

Blue Mountain Melody (also seen as The Blue Mountains Melody) is a 1934 Australian musical comedy. It was a rare local musical produced by J.C. Williamson Ltd. The firm commissioned it following the success of Collits' Inn.Blue Mountain Melody's original production featuring Madge Elliot and Cyril Ritchard opened at the Theatre Royal in Sydney in September 1934. The production moved to Melbourne at His Majesty's Theatre in November 1934.Plans were announced to make a movie of it using the stage cast under the direction of Frederick Blackman. However the musical was not a notable success and Williamson did not produce another local original musical until The Sentimental Bloke in the early 1960s.

Dangerous Medicine

Dangerous Medicine is a 1938 British crime film, directed by Arthur B. Woods and starring Elizabeth Allan and Cyril Ritchard. It is now classed as a lost film.

I See Ice

I See Ice is a 1938 British comedy film directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring George Formby, Kay Walsh and Betty Stockfeld. The film depicts the adventures of a photographer working for a London newspaper. It features the songs "In My Little Snapshot Album", "Noughts And Crosses" and "Mother What'll I Do Now".

It's a Grand Old World

It's a Grand Old World is a 1937 British comedy film directed by Herbert Smith and starring Sandy Powell, Gina Malo and Cyril Ritchard. It was made at Beaconsfield Studios. The film's sets were designed by Norman Arnold.

Moose Charlap

Mark "Moose" Charlap (December 19, 1928 – July 8, 1974) was an American Broadway composer best known for Peter Pan (1954), for which Carolyn Leigh wrote the lyrics. The idea for the show came from Jerome Robbins, who planned to have a few songs by Charlap and Leigh. It evolved into a full musical, with additional songs by Jule Styne and Betty Comden and Adolph Green. On Broadway, starred Mary Martin as Peter Pan and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook.

Peter Pan (1954 musical)

Peter Pan is a musical based on J. M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan and Barrie's own novelization of it, Peter and Wendy. The music is mostly by Mark "Moose" Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics were written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

The original 1954 Broadway production, starring Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, earned Tony Awards for both stars. It was followed by NBC telecasts of it in 1955, 1956, and 1960 with the same stars, plus several rebroadcasts of the 1960 telecast. In 2014, the musical was broadcast on NBC featuring several new numbers, and starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. The show has enjoyed several revivals onstage.

Producers' Showcase

Producers' Showcase is an American anthology television series that was telecast live during the 1950s in compatible color by NBC. With top talent, the 90-minute episodes, covering a wide variety of genres, aired under the title every fourth Monday at 8 pm ET for three seasons, beginning October 18, 1954. The final episode, the last of 37, was broadcast May 27, 1957.

Showcase Productions, Inc., packaged and produced the series, which received seven Emmy Awards, including the 1956 award for Best Dramatic Series.

Sigh No More (musical)

Sigh No More is a musical revue consisting of twenty-two scenes and numbers composed, written and produced by Noël Coward, with additional items by Joyce Grenfell, Richard Addinsell and Norman Hackforth. The show was Coward's first post-World War II musical and starred Cyril Ritchard, his wife Madge Elliott and Joyce Grenfell. It also featured Graham Payn, Coward's longtime partner, who sang the best-known song in the show, the wistful "Matelot".It opened at the Manchester Opera House on 11 July 1945, before transferring to London's West End, where it opened at the Piccadilly Theatre on 22 August 1945, running for 213 performances and closing on 23 February 1946. Despite its indifferent success, it contained songs that endured in Coward's later cabaret act and elsewhere.

Symphony in Two Flats

Symphony in Two Flats is a 1930 British drama film directed by Gareth Gundrey and starring Ivor Novello, Benita Hume, Jacqueline Logan and Cyril Ritchard. It was an adaptation of a successful West End play written by Novello. Separate versions were made for the United Kingdom and United States releases, with Jacqueline Logan replacing Benita Hume in the American version.

It was made at Elstree and Islington Studios. The film's sets were designed by Alex Vetchinsky.

The Daydreamer (film)

The Daydreamer is a 1966 stop motion animated-live action musical fantasy film produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. Directed by Jules Bass, it was written by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Romeo Muller, based on the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. It features songs by Jules Bass and Maury Laws. The film's opening features the cast in puppet and live form plus caricatures of the cast by Al Hirschfeld.

The Happiest Girl in the World

The Happiest Girl in the World is a musical with a book by Fred Saidy and Henry Mayers, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, and music taken from the works of Jacques Offenbach.

Based on the comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes and tales of Greek mythology by Thomas Bulfinch, it focuses on the women of Ancient Greece and Sparta who, inspired by virginal goddess Diana, vow to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers until they promise to put an end to their fighting. Complications ensue when Diana's uncle and underworld ruler Pluto balks at the notion of peace and attempts to derail her plan.

The Broadway production, directed by Cyril Ritchard and choreographed by Dania Krupska, opened on April 3, 1961 at the Martin Beck Theatre, where it ran for 98 performances. The cast included Ritchard in multiple roles (most notably that of Pluto), Janice Rule as Diana, and Lainie Kazan, David Canary, Ted Thurston, and Bruce Yarnell in supporting roles. Krupska was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Choreography and Yarnell won the Theatre World Award for his performance.

An original cast recording was released by Columbia Records.

The Winslow Boy (1948 film)

The Winslow Boy is a 1948 British film adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play The Winslow Boy. It was made by De Grunwald Productions and distributed by the British Lion Film Corporation. It was directed by Anthony Asquith and produced by Anatole de Grunwald with Teddy Baird as associate producer. The adapted screenplay was written by de Grunwald and Rattigan based on Rattigan's play. The music score was by William Alwyn and the cinematography by Freddie Young.The film stars Robert Donat, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Margaret Leighton with Basil Radford, Kathleen Harrison, Francis L. Sullivan, Marie Lohr and Jack Watling (who was also in the original West End theatre production). Also in the cast are Stanley Holloway, Mona Washbourne, Ernest Thesiger, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Lewis Casson, Cyril Ritchard and Dandy Nichols. Neil North, who plays the title role, also appeared in the 1999 film adaptation directed by David Mamet.

Theatre Guild

The Theatre Guild is a theatrical society founded in New York City in 1918 by Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Helen Westley and Theresa Helburn. Langner's wife, Armina Marshall, then served as a co-director. It evolved out of the work of the Washington Square Players.Its original purpose was to produce non-commercial works by American and foreign playwrights. It differed from other theaters at the time in that its board of directors shared the responsibility of choosing plays, management, and production. The Theatre Guild contributed greatly to the success of Broadway from the 1920s throughout the 1970s.

The Guild has produced a total of 228 plays on Broadway, including 18 by George Bernard Shaw and seven by Eugene O'Neill. Other major playwrights introduced to theatre-going Americans include Robert E. Sherwood, Maxwell Anderson, Sidney Howard, William Saroyan, and Philip Barry. In the field of musical theatre, the Guild has promoted works by Richard Rodgers, teamed with both Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, George and Ira Gershwin, Jule Styne, and Meredith Willson, all of which have become classics. Under President John F. Kennedy, the Guild was engaged to assemble a U.S. theatre company, headed by Helen Hayes, to tour the capitals of Europe and South America with works by Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, and William Gibson.In 1968, the Guild became involved in the travel field by taking 25 of its subscribers to European capitals to see plays. In 1975, it instituted its Theatre At Sea program with a 17-day cruise aboard the Rotterdam with Hayes and Cyril Ritchard. Since then they have hosted more than thirty cruises, each with seven or eight performers. Among them have been Alan Arkin, Zoe Caldwell, Anne Jackson, Cherry Jones, Richard Kiley, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Neal, Lynn Redgrave, Gena Rowlands, Jean Stapleton, Eli Wallach, and Lee Roy Reams, who served as the program's resident director.

The last Broadway play produced by The Theatre Guild was State Fair in 1996.

Visit to a Small Planet

Visit to a Small Planet is a 1960 American black-and-white science fiction comedy film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman, and Fred Clark. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was produced by Hal B. Wallis.

Visit to a Small Planet debuted as an original television production by Gore Vidal, then was reworked by Vidal as a Broadway play starring Cyril Ritchard and Eddie Mayehoff.

The film was released on February 4, 1960. It was re-released in 1966 on a double bill with another Jerry Lewis film, The Bellboy.

Yes, Uncle!

Yes, Uncle! is a musical comedy by Austen Hurgen and George Arthurs, with music by Nat D. Ayer and lyrics by Clifford Grey (who also wrote The Bing Boys are Here and the following series of highly successful reviews). The story is based on the farce Le truc du Brésilien by Nicolas Nancey and Paul Armont, and the musical takes its title from the catch-phrase used by Bobby Summers and Mabel Mannering, addressing Uncle Brabazon Hollybone. It was produced by George Grossmith, Jr. and Edward Laurillard and opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on 16 December 1917 and ran for a very successful 626 performances. The piece starred Fred Leslie as G.B. Stark, Margaret Bannerman as Joan and Leslie Henson as Bobby Summers. Later, Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard starred in the musical.

Yes, Uncle! was one of a number of very successful musical hits of the London stage during World War I (the others include a revue entitled The Bing Boys Are Here, the musical The Maid of the Mountains, Chu Chin Chow, a mixture of comic opera and pantomime), The Happy Day (1916), Theodore & Co (1916) and The Boy (1917). Audiences wanted light and uplifting entertainment during the war, and these shows delivered it.

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