Johnston Forbes-Robertson Poster


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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 16 January 1853London, England, UK
Date of Death 6 November 1937St. Margaret's Bay, Dover, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

Johnston Forbes-Robertson (1853-1937) was an English actor and theatrical impresario that George Bernard Shaw and other critics considered to be the finest Hamlet (1913) of his generation. Forbes-Robertson had trained to be an artist and was not overly fond of acting, but he took to the boards to make a living. He did his apprenticeship with Samuel Phelps' company and made his theatrical debut in 1874. He played the second lead in the company of Henry Irving, indisputably the greatest actor of his generation and the first actor to be knighted.

Forbes-Robertson did not play Hamlet until he was 44 years old, but excelled at it. He was famed for his magnificent voice. Other Shakespearean roles he was hailed for were Leontes in "The Winter's Tale", Othello and Romeo. Shaw wrote the part of Julius Caesar in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) specifically for Forbes-Robertson.

In 1913, at the age of 60, he became the fifth actor since Irving was knighted in 1895 to made a knight bachelor. He retired from the stage the same year but continued to produce plays. He died in Dover in 1937 at the age of 84.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Gertrude Elliot (22 December 1900 - 6 November 1937) (his death) (4 children)

Trivia (12)

His Hamlet was very highly regarded by famous Irish playwright-critic George Bernard Shaw, who considered Robertson's portrayal the closest to what Shakespeare actually intended.
Knighted in 1913.
Died on the same day as his good friend Alex Scott-Gatty.
He was considered one of the finest actors of his time.
George Bernard Shaw wrote the role of Caesar in "Caesar and Cleopatra" specifically for him.
He was considered the finest Hamlet of the nineteenth century even though he was forty-four years old when he first played the role.
Brother-in-law of actress Maxine Elliott.
Four daughters with Gertrude Elliott; they were, at the time of his death: Jean Forbes-Robertson, Diana Forbes-Robertson (Mrs. Vincent Sheean), Mrs. Maxine Miles, and Chloe Forbes-Robertson. He was also grandfather of Joanna Van Gyseghem (Jean's daughter).
Brother of actress Frances (1866-1956) and fellow actors, Ian Forbes-Robertson (1859-1936), Norman Forbes and John Kelt.
Uncle of Frank Forbes-Robertson and great-uncle of Meriel Forbes.
Although claimed elsewhere, he was not the father of John Forbes-Robertson. (No doubt they were related as Lord Johnston was one of twelve children.).
Father: art critic John Forbes-Robertson (1822-1903); Mother: Frances Cott.

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