Frank Harvey (Australian screenwriter)

Frank Harvey (22 December 1885 – 10 October 1965) was a British-born actor, producer and writer best known for his work in Australia.

Frank Harvey
Harvey Ainsworth Hilton

(1885-12-22)22 December 1885
Died10 October 1965(1965-10-10) (aged 79)
NationalityBritish / Australian


Frank Harvey was born Harvey Ainsworth Hilton, in 1883 in Earls Court, London, his father was John Ainsworth Hilton and mother was Elizabeth Hilton. His occupation in the British 1911 Census was "actor" and was married with Grace Hilton, née Ackerman. He had 3 sisters, called Maria, Cora and Caroline according to British 1891 Census.

Caroline Gladys Hilton was married to Hanns Wyldeck and from that union was born in 1914 Harvey Martin Wyldeck also an actor who died in England 1989. He was the cousin to Frank Harvey, Harvey Ainsworth Hilton's son from Grace Hilton. Martin Wyldeck's son Christopher Wyldeck also moved to Australia in the 1970s and is a TV director.

Harvey's father was also a writer.[1]

Early career

Harvey studied acting under Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and played Shakespearean parts in the Lyceum Theatre in London. In 1914 he was engaged by J. C. Williamson to play in Australia with Nancye Stewart, and did not return to Britain until 1926.[2]

In 1922 and 1923 he played the leading man in a number of J & N Tait productions with the Emélie Polini troupe and toured Australia and New Zealand.[3]

When Harvey returned to Britain, it took him several months to re-establish himself there, but was cast in The Transit of Venus and then had little difficulty finding work, being particularly well regarded for a role in Jew Suss. Acting in this saw him have a nervous breakdown and he was ordered to take three months off.[4]

Harvey also had two plays produced, The Last Enemy and Cape Forlorn.[5]

Return to Australia

By 1931 he was back in Melbourne to appear in a series of plays for J.C. Williamson, including On the Spot and a production of his own Cape Forlorn.[6][7] Harvey said he preferred working on stage to screen:

An actor on the screen is not an actor at all, but a robot. In the days of the silent films, an actor could have a distinct screen personality; but now that speech has come, all that is ended. After the novelty has worn off, talking films will settle down here, as they have abroad, into a mere substitute for the silent films, and will not interfere in any way with the prosperity of the legitimate theatre. The screen should stick to the sphere in which it is really capable – the sphere of spectacular production, such as Iies outside the ambit of the legitimate stage. It is really a glorified sideshow.[8]

Harvey returned to London in October 1931,[9] but was back in Australia in 1933 to work for F. W. Thring at Efftee Productions as an actor and screenwriter.

In 1935 he moved to Sydney and began writing and acting for ABC radio. This involvement later led to full-time appointment as senior drama producer in 1944, directing such stars as Queenie Ashton (in early episodes of Blue Hills), Lyndall Barbour and Nigel Lovell. Older Australians may remember him as Nestor the story-teller in the Argonauts Club for most of the '40s.[10] His play False Colours was staged by Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre.[11]

In 1936 he founded a school of voice production and dramatic art with Claude Flemming.


That year Harvey also went to work for Ken G. Hall at Cinesound Productions as a studio dialogue director and in-house screenwriter. Starting with It Isn't Done (1937), Harvey wrote or co-wrote nine produced feature film scripts for Cinesound over the next four years, often playing small roles in them as well.[12]

According to one observer, Harvey's work as an actor and writer showed his bias towards the theatrical: "his scripts tend towards fulsome dialogues with witty repartee and epigram-matical statements, and his acting, particularly in Tall Timbers (1937), tends to exploit dramatic gestures and facial expressions far more intensively than was then required for screen 'naturalism'. Under Hall's direction, Harvey's dialogues were simplified and images allowed to express more of the script's content; his acting too became increasingly restrained as he adjusted to the demands of the film medium."[13]


During World War II, Harvey served in the Volunteer Defence Corps until 1944, when he left the army and went under contract to ABC as a radio actor and producer.[14] He eventually became ABC's head of radio drama.[15]

By the time Harvey retired in 1952 he had directed many hundreds of radio plays. He was appreciated by actors for his wit and communication skills.


He married Grace Ackerman in 1910 and divorced her in 1923 on grounds of desertion.[16] On 3 April 1924 he married Helen Rosamond "Bobbie" McMillan, an actress with the Emélie Polini troupe and daughter of Sir William McMillan, Minister for Railways in New South Wales, Australia.[17][18]

A son (1912–1981) by his first marriage, also called Frank Harvey, was a British playwright and novelist who wrote the play Saloon Bar and screenplays for British movies including Seven Days to Noon (1950) and I'm Alright Jack (1960).[19]

He had a daughter, Helen, by his second wife.[20]


As writer

As actor


for trivia fans: this movie is notable for appearance of a very young Gough Whitlam![41]

Unproduced Projects

Radio credits


  • The Golden Age of Australian Drama Richard Lane, Melbourne University Press 1994 ISBN 0-522-84556-8
  • Biography by Stephen Vagg
  • Frank Harvey on IMDb at IMDb
  • Frank Harvey Australian theatre credits at AusStage
  • Frank Harvey at the National Film and Sound Archive


  1. "music and Drama". Queensland Figaro. Brisbane, QLD: National Library of Australia. 21 March 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  2. Canberra Times Thursday 17 March 1927
  3. "MUSIC AND DRAMA". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 5 December 1923. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  4. "PERSONAL". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 7 December 1929. p. 2 Edition: FINAL SPORTING EDITION. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  5. "FRANK HARVEY BACK". The Register News-Pictorial. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 12 January 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  6. Melbourne Argus Monday 5 January 1931
  7. "MR. FRANK HARVEY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 21 November 1930. p. 6. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  8. "MR. FRANK HARVEY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 January 1931. p. 13. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  9. "PERSONAL". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 13 October 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  10. The Golden Age of the Argonauts Rob Johnson, Hodder & Stoughton 1997 ISBN 0-7336-0528-1
  11. "False Colours – New Play by Frank Harvey" Sydney Morning Herald 27 May 1935
  12. "WRITER, ACTOR, INSTRUCTOR". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 17 March 1938. p. 4 Section: Second Section. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  13. Pike, Andrew Franklin. "The History of an Australian Film Production Company: Cinesound, 1932-70" (PDF). Australian National University. p. 51.
  14. "Advertising". Portland Guardian. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 22 May 1944. p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  15. "Music And Drama". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 May 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  16. Melbourne Sun Thursday 6 September 1923
  17. Good Iron Mac Peter M Gunnar, Federation Press 1995 ISBN 1-86287-176-0
  18. AustLit biography of Frank Harvey
  19. "STARS OF THE AIR. FRANK HARVEY – ACTOR, PRODUCER, WRITER AND TALENT-SCOUT". Wodonga and Towong Sentinel. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 27 September 1946. p. 4. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  20. Melbourne Argus Tuesday 26 April 1932
  21. "STARS OF THE AIR. FRANK HARVEY – ACTOR, PRODUCER, WRITER AND TALENT-SCOUT". Wodonga and Towong Sentinel. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 27 September 1946. p. 4. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  22. "STAGE ASIDES". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 21 September 1933. p. 3. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  23. "Intimate Jottings". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 1 June 1935. p. 25. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  24. "The Man Who Stayed at Home". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 May 1915. p. 4. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  25. "The Man Who Stayed at Home:Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2538". 12 August 1915. p. 7. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  26. Adelaide Advertiser Thursday 27 September 1917
  27. Adelaide Advertiser Saturday 6 April 1918
  28. Adelaide Advertiser Monday 15 September 1919
  29. ""HEARTS Don't REALLY BREAK"". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 10 August 1935. p. 22. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  30. Melbourne Argus Saturday 14 April 1923
  31. Melbourne Argus Monday 19 October 1925
  32. Melbourne Argus Saturday 7 March 1925
  33. Melbourne Argus Saturday 4 July 1925
  34. Melbourne Argus Monday 24 August 1925
  35. N T Times Friday 26 September 1930
  36. Melbourne Argus Monday 16 February 1931
  37. ""CAPE FORLORN."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 31 August 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  38. Frank Harvey on IMDb
  40. The Australian Film and Television Companion Tony Harrison, Simon & Schuster Australia 1994 ISBN 0-7318-0455-4
  41. "STACK ASIDES". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 29 October 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
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