Harry Lorraine (English actor)

Harry Lorraine (26 March 1885 27 March 1970), born Harry Albert Heard in Brighton, Sussex, England, was an actor in English silent films.[1]

Early life

Harry Heard was the oldest of three children born to Thomas Heard and Harriett (née Ashdown). At age 16 he was working as a painter for his father, but then established himself as a magician, daredevil, and escapologist, sometimes with the spelling Harry Herd, as "The world’s youngest Handcuff King," an English version of Harry Houdini, although it's uncertain whether he met Houdini or saw him perform.[1]

Acting career

Heard began his film career in 1912 and used the name Harry Lorraine throughout his acting career. It appears to have been strictly a stage name, as he used the surname Heard on his marriage certificate in 1932, and there is no known documentation of a legal name change.[1]

Lorraine's first acting role was Little John in Robin Hood Outlawed. The next month, he took the lead role of Lieutenant Rose in Lieutenant Rose and the Train Wreckers. In this movie, typical for the time period, Lorraine's character is traveling on a train which has been directed to a siding by the enemy, and all while the smallest slip means certain death as the train is hurtling along, he climbs out of the carriage, swings himself between two coaches, and disconnects the couplings, thereby saving the day by sending on the bulk of the train to destruction while his own carriage remains safely on the track.[1]

Lorraine did his own stunts in movies, drawing on his natural strength and the physical skills he had developed prior to acting. During a time when it seemed audiences wanted more and every action movie had to outdo previous movies and with only visual effects and music some were quite challenging and even dangerous. Examples of some of the daredevil stunts Lorraine performed include diving into a pool of sharks (filming on location in Jamaica), being thrown bound hand and foot from Walton Bridge into the river thirty feet below, fighting six men single-handedly and getting thrown down onto a table with such force that it splintered (this was an unrehearsed and unexpected thrill), jumping from an airplane, dangling from the jib of a very tall crane while bound, being dragged by a taxicab, and sundry chase scenes.[1]

Lorraine's acting career spanned three decades, and its end probably had as much to do with the near-standstill of the British film industry during World War II as with his advancing age for the types of characters he usually played.

Personal life

In 1932, Lorraine married Gladys Seals in Kingston. His name was recorded as Harry Heard on the marriage certificate. He was forty-five years old and his occupation was listed as film director; she was twenty-four. Gladys used the name Tonie throughout her life. They had two boys, both born in Staines, whose surnames were registered as both Heard and Lorraine, and adopted to use the surname Lorraine.[1]

The British film industry was decimated by the effects of World War II, and after the war Lorraine left acting to manage his father’s building business. Known as Lorraine Estates, it was initially involved in repairing bomb damage to property in Battersea and other sites in and around London. Lorraine continued working in the building business almost until his death at age 85 on 27 March 1970, and was recorded as "film director (retired)" on his death certificate. Tonie died in 2002, at age 94.[1]

Selected filmography

Release Date Title of Film Role Film Production Company
September 1912 Robin Hood Outlawed Little John British and Colonial
13 October 1912 Lieutenant Rose and the Train Wreckers Lieutenant Rose Clarendon
1 January 1913 Signals in the Night British and Colonial
March, 1913 The Favourite for the Jamaica Cup Headway British and Colonial
March, 1913 Tom Cringle in Jamaica Tom Cringle British and Colonial
May, 1913 Stock is as Good as Money British and Colonial
September, 1913 Lieutenant Daring and the Mystery of Room 41 Lieutenant Daring British and Colonial
September, 1913 A Tragedy in the Alps British and Colonial
December, 1913 The Little Snow Waif British and Colonial
1913 In Fate’s Grip British and Colonial
1913 The Master Crook British and Colonial
1913 Through the Clouds British and Colonial
February 1914 Lieutenant Daring, Aerial Scout Lieutenant Daring British and Colonial
14 May 1914 Detective Daring and the Thames Coiners Lieutenant Daring, Director Daring Films (his own production company)
1914 London’s Underworld Lieutenant Daring, Director Daring Films (his own production company)
1914 Mary the Fishergirl Daring Films (his own production company)
before 24 June 1914 The Belle of Crystal Palace Motograph
before 24 June 1914 Queenie of the Circus Motograph
before 24 June 1914 The World at War Motograph
c. July 1914 The Great Spy Raid P & M Films
c. August 1914 Huns of the North Sea P & M Films
1914 Lieutenant Rose and the Sealed Orders Lieutenant Rose Clarendon
April 1915 The Counterfeiters Sexton Blake I.B. Davidson
April 1915 Stolen Heirlooms Sexton Blake I.B. Davidson
July 1915 The Great Cheque Fraud Sexton Blake I.B. Davidson
November 1915 The Thornton Jewel Mystery Sexton Blake I.B. Davidson
1915 Wireless Commander Daring, Director Famous British Players
1916 Popular Song Favourites Henry Tress
1 January 1917 If Thou Wert Blind Eric Leslie Clarendon
1917 The Happy Warrior Foxy Harma Photoplays (his own production company)
July 1918 Big Money Director Harma Photoplays (his own production company)
1918 The Great Impostor Hixton Harma Photoplays (his own production company)
1919 The Lads of the Village Director Atlantic
16 August 1919 The Further Exploits of Sexton Blake: The Mystery of the S.S. Olympic Director, Producer Gaumont/Atlantic
1920 The Woman and Officer 26 Director, Producer, and wrote the screenplay Atlantic
1920 Pillars of Society Producer R.W. Syndicate
before 1923 The Tiger's Eye Atlantic
before 1923 The Unknown Quantity Atlantic
before 1919 The Pluck of the Navy Atlantic
October 1928 Sweeney Todd QTS Productions
1 January 1929 Unto Each Other Producer Fox
February 1930 Stranger than Fiction Jack Denton Mrs. C.M. Wright
1935 A Fire has Been Arranged uncredited Twickenham Film Studios
24 February 1940 The Stars Look Down no appearance, possibly sets and props Grand National Pictures
1 February 1941 Freedom Radio (also called A Voice in the Night) uncredited Two Cities/Sound City/Columbia


  1. Copies of some of Lorraine's movies are no longer extant, and there are only brief synopses for some. For others, even story lines and listing of credits are not available.
  2. During Lorraine's career, there was another actor name Harry Lorraine, an American silent film actor who was noted for comedy and romance films, not action films. Their careers largely overlapped, and due to incomplete records and because the English Harry Lorraine spent time and is thought to filmed movies in the United States, their filmographies has not yet been disambiguated with certainty.


  1. "Harry Lorraine". felbridge.org.uk. Felbridge & District History Group. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
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