Frederick Leister

Frederick Leister (1 December 1885 – 24 August 1970) was an English actor.[1] He began his career in musical comedy, and after serving in the First World War he played character roles in modern West End plays and in classic drama.[2] He appeared in more than 60 films between 1922 and 1961.[3][4]

Frederick Leister
Born1 December 1885
London, England
Died24 August 1970(1970-08-24) (aged 84)
London, England
Years active1906 to 1961

Life and career

Leister was born in London, the son of George Leister and his wife Marie, née Le Capelain. He was educated at Dulwich and Worthing Grammar School.[5] He was intended for a career as a lawyer, and served his time as an articled clerk to a solicitor's firm.[2] He made his stage debut at the Crown Theatre, Peckham, in 1906 in the chorus of A Country Girl, and spent the next six years touring in musical comedies.[6] He made his London debut at the Prince's Theatre in February 1913, and appeared in supporting roles at the Lyceum and the Duke of York's until 1915, when he joined the army. He served in the Royal Artillery in France until 1918.[5]

For the rest of his acting career Leister divided his time between the classics and lighter pieces such as detective plays and drawing room comedy, with occasional excursions into musical comedy. His classic roles included Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1919), Faulconbridge in King John (1920), Pavel Lebedyev in Ivanov (1950), and Peter Nikolayavich in The Seagull (1953).[5] He played the Emperor in The White Horse Inn at the London Coliseum in 1931.[7] In modern plays two of his longest-running engagements were as Maxwell Davenport in The Late Christopher Bean (1933–34) and as Charles Donkin, the central figure in Ian Hay's comedy Housemaster (1936–37).[8] He appeared on Broadway in the same role in 1938, when the play was retitled Bachelor Born.[5][9] In 1944 he featured in the West End hit play No Medals by Esther McCracken.




  1. League, The Broadway. "Frederick Leister – Broadway Cast & Staff - IBDB".
  2. McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781526111968 via Google Books.
  3. "Frederick Leister".
  4. "Frederick Leister - Theatricalia".
  5. Gaye, pp. 868–869
  6. "Frederick Leister - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  7. The Coliseum", The Times, 9 April 1931, p. 10
  8. "Production of Housemaster - Theatricalia".
  9. League, The Broadway. "Bachelor Born – Broadway Play – Original - IBDB".


  • Gaye, Freda (ed.) (1967). Who's Who in the Theatre (fourteenth ed.). London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. OCLC 5997224.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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