Dudley Digges (actor)

Dudley Digges (9 June 1879 – 24 October 1947) was an Irish stage and film actor.


Digges was born in Dublin. He became acquainted with drama enthusiasts William and Frank Fay and took an interest in acting. He joined W. G. Fay's Irish National Dramatic Company, along with others such as Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh, James H. Cousins, Fred Ryan and Máire T. Quinn (who became his wife). Their first production, Cathleen Ni Houlihan, with Maud Gonne in the lead role, and Deirdre, was on 2 April 1902. The company, which had no funds to speak of, acquired a couple of bare rooms at 34 Lower Camden St., which with the help of friends from Irish-revival societies they turned into a small theatre. However, this proved too small for the plays they were planning to stage. They rehearsed at the Coffee Palace in Westmoreland St. and also used the Molesworth Hall for productions.[2]

In 1903 the playwrights and most of the actors and staff from these productions went on to form the Irish National Theatre Society, which had its registered offices in Camden St. The society founded the Abbey Theatre.[2][3]

Digges went to America with a group of fellow-actors in 1904, and became successful both as an actor and producer. For a time, he was stage manager to Charles Frohman and George Arliss. Digges went to Hollywood in 1930.

One of Digges's best-known stage roles was as Ficsur in the original 1921 Broadway production of Ferenc Molnár's Liliom (later adapted into the musical Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein.) In 1924, Digges founded the Maverick Theater in Woodstock, New York, with the assistance of Hervey White, the founder of the Maverick Arts Colony. Digges was artistic director of a company that included Helen Hayes and Edward G. Robinson.

Digges appeared in forty films between 1929 and 1946, including the original pre-Code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931) (which was later released under the title Dangerous Female). Digges portrayed Casper Gutman, the character later made famous by Sydney Greenstreet in the 1941 version. He played the Chief Detective who plots to capture the title character in The Invisible Man (1933), opposite the unseen Claude Rains. He played the role of the Heavenly Examiner in both the original Broadway production and the 1930 screen versions of Sutton Vane's play Outward Bound. He also worked as a director on Broadway.

Complete filmography


  1. "Heartbreak House". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  2. Edward Kenny (nephew of Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh): The Splendid Years: recollections of Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh, as told to Edward Kenny, with appendices and lists of Irish theatre plays, 1899–1916. Duffy and Co., Dublin. 1955
  3. Hunt, Hugh (1979). The Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre, 1904–1978. Columbia University Press. pp. 37–39. ISBN 9780231049061.
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