Ben Webster (actor)

Ben Webster (2 June 1864 – 26 February 1947) was an English-born actor, and the husband of actress Dame May Whitty, and father of the British-American stage actress Margaret Webster.

Ben Webster
Benjamin Webster III

(1864-06-02)2 June 1864
London, England
Died26 February 1947(1947-02-26) (aged 82)
Burial placeAshes scattered in Woolacombe, Devon, UK.
Other namesBen Webster, Young Ben
OccupationActor, Barrister
Years active1913–1947
May Whitty
(m. 1892; his death 1947)

Personal life

Benjamin Nottingham Webster III was born on 2 June 1864 in London. His father, William Shakespeare Webster, was the son of the famous actor Benjamin Nottingham Webster. His father was professionally known as W.S. Webster and named for the famed playwright William Shakespeare. W.S Webster may be distantly related to the Jacobean playwright John Webster (c. 1580 – c. 1634), a contemporary of Shakespeare.

In his early twenties he turned his back on the stage and after studying law passed his bar exam and became a practising Barrister. Yet he showed aptitude for both professions and was encouraged by other theatre professionals to pursue an acting career instead. He later abandoned his law career for the stage.

In 1892 he married Liverpudlian actress May Whitty in St Giles's Parish Church, London. A few years later their son, possibly named for his father as Benjamin Webster IV was born but died in infancy. In 1905 their daughter Margaret Webster was born in New York whilst the couple were on tour. Webster was told of his daughters birth whilst performing in a Shakespeare play in New York City. Margaret Webster retained dual American and British citizenship for the duration of her life.

He acted in films for 30 years from 1913 to 1943. He and Whitty emigrated to California, where they remained until their deaths. Webster died in Hollywood, California from complications during surgery for a cancerous tumour on 26 February 1947, aged 82. His wife Dame May Whitty died 14 months later, also from cancer. Webster was cremated and his ashes scattered in Woolacombe, Devon England. Ben, May and Margaret have neighbouring memorial plaques in St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London, better known as "The Actors Church". Not to be confused with St. Paul's Cathedral. The Websters were a mix of religions. Their daughter was raised Episcopalian despite her mother converting to Christian Science years before her birth. Ben Webster is believed to have been Protestant of no particular denomination.

Selected filmography

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