John Cairney

John Cairney (born 16 February 1930) is a Scottish film and television actor who is well known to audiences in Scotland and internationally through his one-man shows on Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Service, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and William McGonagall.[2][3]


John Cairney
Born (1930-02-16) 16 February 1930
Occupationactor, writer
Years active1957–1999
Spouse(s)Sheila Parker Cowan (1954-1979)
Alannah O'Sullivan (1980–present)

He has worked as an actor, recitalist, lecturer, director and theatre consultant. He is also a published author and an exhibited painter. Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he was a notable Hamlet at the Citizens' Theatre and a successful Macbeth at the Edinburgh Festival.[4] He was 'This Man Craig' on television, while his many films include Lucky Jim, A Night to Remember, Operation Bullshine, The Flesh and the Fiends, Victim, Cleopatra and Jason and the Argonauts.[5]

He gained a PhD. from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand and is much in demand internationally as a lecturer, writer and consultant on Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Robert Burns.[6][7]

Cairney has written books on many famous Scots as well as other books on football (particularly Celtic F.C.), theatre and his native Glasgow, where he now lives with his New Zealand-born wife, actress and scriptwriter Alannah O'Sullivan.[6][7]

He is the brother of footballer Jim Cairney. They were raised in the Parkhead area of Glasgow; the referee Tiny Wharton was a childhood acquaintance.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1957Ill Met by MoonlightElias
1957Miracle in SohoTom
1957Lucky JimRoberts
1957Windom's WayJan Vidal
1958A Night to RememberMr. Murphy
1959Shake Hands with the DevilMike O'Callaghan
1959Operation BullshineGunner Willie Ross
1960The Flesh and the FiendsChris Jackson
1960The Edgar Wallace Mysteries - Marriage of ConvenienceLarry Wilson
1963Jason and the ArgonautsHylas
1964The Devil-Ship PiratesHarry
1965Spaceflight IC-1Dr. Steven Thomas
1965A Study in TerrorMichael Osborne
1999Nightmare ManTrapper


  2. McIver, Brian (16 February 2012). "Scots acting legend John Cairney tells us about his Titanic adventures on classic movie A Night To Remember". dailyrecord.
  3. "Seven stories from Mackintosh's artistic journey". 27 March 2019.
  4. "Collection of material relating to John Cairney (b1930), actor, director and playwright - Archives Hub".
  5. "John Cairney". BFI.
  6. Cairney, John (20 July 2000). "On the Trail of Robert Burns". Dundurn via Google Books.
  7. "Author details | Scottish Book Trust".
  8. Cairney, John (2011). The Sevenpenny Gate: A Lifelong Love Affair with Celtic FC. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1845967772.

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