Tom Terriss

Thomas Herbert F. Lewin (28 September 1872 – 8 February 1964), known professionally as Tom Terriss, was a British actor, screenwriter and film director.[1] After trying various occupations, he became an actor playing a variety of roles, beginning in 1890, in plays, pantomime and Edwardian musical comedy. After the First World War, he left the stage and pursued a decade-long film career. He was the brother of the musical comedy star Ellaline Terriss and son of leading man actor William Terriss.

Life and career

Terriss was born in Barnes, London, son of the actor William Terriss (né Lewin) and his wife Isabel (née Lewis).[2] He was educated at Christ's Hospital, and being, in his own words, "like his father before him … of roving disposition", he tried several occupations before becoming an actor. He was an apprentice at sea, a sheep farmer in Australia, a miner in Colorado, and a clerk on the London Stock Exchange.[3] His sister, Ellaline Terriss, became one of the most famous musical theatre stars of the day.[4]

He made his first appearance on the professional stage at the Globe Theatre in March 1890, as Osric in Hamlet with F.R. Benson's company. In May of the same year he began a three-year association with the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, playing first in Paul Kauvar and then A Million of Money, The Prodigal Daughter (1892), and three pantomimes.[3]

Over the next decade he played in a range of productions from musical comedies such as The Shop Girl to melodrama including The Colleen Bawn. In 1902 he went to the US, where he remained for four years, appearing in musical comedies under the managements of Charles Frohman and others. He returned to the West End stage in 1906, taking over the role of Mr Beverley in The Beauty of Bath in which his sister Ellaline starred in the title role.[3]

During 1909 Terriss toured in the US and the UK in The Vampire, and in 1910–11 he made another American tour in Scrooge. During 1913–15 he played in Britain in three Dickens adaptations: A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Nicholas Nickleby. After that he abandoned the stage for a film career, becoming a director for Vitagraph Pictures.[3]

Select filmography


  1. BFI Database entry
  2. "Thomas Herbert F. Lewin", Results for Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Find My Past, accessed 28 September 2014
  3. Parker, pp. 893–894
  4. Taylor, C.M.P. Terriss, Ellaline. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 7 January 2012
  5. Holliday, Diane and Chris Kretz. Oakdale: Images of America, p. 36, Arcadia Publishing (2010) 073857239X


  • Parker, John (1925). Who's Who in the Theatre (fifth ed.). London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. OCLC 10013159.
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