Cyril Ritchard

Cyril Joseph Trimnell-Ritchard (1 December 1898 – 18 December 1977) [1], 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.[2]

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

(1898-12-01)1 December 1898
Died18 December 1977(1977-12-18) (aged 79)[1]
Years active1918–1977
Spouse(s)Madge Elliott

Life and career

Ritchard was born in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills. [1] [3] 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, Ritchard 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).[4]

He achieved star status in 1954 as Captain Hook in the Broadway production of Peter Pan co-starring Mary Martin, who had the same birthday (1 December). For his work in the show, Ritchard received a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical.[5] 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 The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (1965), with Anthony Newley, and Sugar (1972).[6] 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)[7][8] and The Irregular Verb to Love (1963) (in which he also appeared).[9]

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).

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.[10] 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 November 25, 1977, while appearing as the narrator in the Chicago touring company of Side by Side by Sondheim. He died on December 18, 1977 in Chicago, aged 79 (he was born on December 1, 1898).[1] He was buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where he had resided in his rural home[1]. He was buried beside his wife. His funeral mass was celebrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. His wife predeceased him in 1955 [4] as did a baby boy who died in infancy in 1939.

Selected filmography

Radio appearances

1952Theatre Guild on the AirThe Pickwick Papers[11]


  1. Pace, Eric. "Cyril Ritchard, 79, Dies in Coma; Was Actor, Singer and Director" The New York Times, December 19, 1977
  2. Charles Castle, This was Richard Tauber, London 1971
  3. The New York Times obituary gives his year of birth as 1898; the Australian Dictionary of Biography gives his year of birth as 1897, see Rickard, John. Cyril Joseph Ritchard
  4. "Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard".
  5. "Tony Awards, 1955" Archived 8 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 26 March 2012
  6. Ritchard Listing, Broadway Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  7. "Roar Like a Dove Listing", accessed 26 March 2012
  8. Roar Like a Dove Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  9. The Irregular Verb to Love Internet Broadway Database, accessed 26 March 2012
  10. "What's My Line?: Episode #394".
  11. Kirby, Walter (21 December 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved 8 June 2015 via

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