Geoffrey Kerr

Geoffrey Kerr (26 January 1895 – 1 July 1971) was a British stage and film actor and writer, during the middle of the 20th century, part of a British family with a strong stage and theatre tradition spanning several generations.

Geoffrey Kerr
Born
Geoffrey Kemble Grinham Keen

(1895-01-26)26 January 1895
Died(1971-07-01)1 July 1971 (aged 76)
OccupationActor and writer
Years active1917–1956
Spouse(s)June Walker
ChildrenJohn Kerr(1931-2012)

Early life

Geoffrey Kemble Grinham Keen was born on 26 January 1895, in London, the son of character actor and theatrical manager Frederick Kerr and Lucy Dowson. After college, he appeared in several of his father's theatrical productions.

At the start of World War I, he obtained a commission in the Shropshire Light Infantry, and saw duty in the trenches. A friend from his theatre days before the war arranged for him to receive training in the Royal Flying Corps. While serving in that branch of the British military, he was wounded and spent the remainder of the war as an instructor in aerial gunnery.[1] In 1920, he travelled to the United States for the first time to appear with his father on Broadway. From that point on for the remainder of the 1920s, he travelled back and forth across the Atlantic quite often, appearing on Broadway in New York City, and making silent films back home in Britain.

Stage career

On Broadway, as Geoffrey Kerr, he performed in such plays as The Stork (1925) and London Calling, the latter which he wrote. He also directed occasionally, and co-starred with wife June Walker on Broadway in The Bachelor Father (1928). He ended his acting career in 1934, though he did appear in a play on Broadway in 1949–50, to celebrate the silver Broadway anniversary of the two stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.[2]

  • Just Suppose, playing George (1 November 1920 – January ?, 1921)
  • East of Suez, playing Harold Knox (21 September 1922 – December ?, 1922)
  • You and I, playing Roderick White (19 February 1923 – June ?, 1923)
  • The Changelings, playing Wicky Faber (17 September 1923 – January ?, 1924)
  • In His Arms, playing Ernest Fairleigh (13 October 1924 – November ?, 1924)
  • The Stork, playing Lionel Deport (26 January 1925 – February ?, 1925)
  • 'First Love", playing Jean (8 November 1926 – December ?, 1926)
  • The Bachelor Father, playing John Ashley (28 February 1928 – October ?, 1928)
  • Ada Beats the Drum, directed by Geoffrey Kerr (8 May 1930 – June ?, 1930)
  • London Calling, written by Geoffrey Kerr, playing George Craft (18 October 1930 – October ?, 1930)
  • This is New York, playing Joseph Gresham, Jr. (28 November 1930 – January ?, 1931)
  • Collision, playing Dr. Gestzi (16 February 1932 – February ?, 1932)
  • We Are No Longer Children, playing Jean Servin (31 March 1932 – April ?, 1932)
  • Domino, playing Cremone (16 August 1932 – August ?, 1932)
  • Foolscap, staged by Geoffrey Kerr, playing Shakespeare (11 January 1933 – January ?, 1933)
  • Yellow Jack, playing Stackpoole (6 March 1934 – May 1934)
  • I Know My Love, playing Frederic Chanler (2 November 1949 – 3 June 1950)

Film career

Geoffrey Kerr became known in the film industry when he co-starred with his father in the British silent film 12.10 (1919), although he did appear in several other silent films prior to that. Most of his silent films were British productions; the "talkies" in 1931 were US productions.

Writing career

From 1935 until the late 1940s, Kerr was a screenwriter and playwright; he also wrote several British television productions in the early 1950s. His best-known film credits include Rene Clair's Break the News (1938), the wartime comedy/melodrama Cottage to Let (1941), and the period drama Jassy (1947). One of Kerr's screenplays from 1936 resurfaced in 1988 as the British TV production, The Tenth Man.

His credits include:

In addition, Kerr wrote a fantasy novel, Under the Influence (1954), about a London bank cashier who can read people's minds, but only when drunk. Kerr attempted to co-write a screenplay with George S. Kaufman based on that novel, but the screenplay remained unfinished.[3]

Personal life

He married June Walker in 1926. They had one child in 1931 (a son, John Kerr, who also became an actor in the family tradition). He separated from his wife in 1938, and they divorced in 1943.

Death

Geoffrey Kerr died 1 July 1971, in Aldershot, Hampshire, England, aged 76.

References

  1. "FRED—THE KERRS—GEOFFREY" New York Times Drama/Music/Fashion/Screen, 7 November 1920, page 88 (available online at the New York Times archive
  2. "Broadway Openings/I Know My Love" (review) Billboard, 12 November 1949, page 46 (available online at Online Google Books archive
  3. George S. Kaufman biodata at the Tome website
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