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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 1 December 1897Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Date of Death 18 December 1977Chicago, Illinois, USA  (cardiac arrest)
Birth NameCyril Trimmell-Ritchard

Mini Bio (1)

Legendary for his preening, prancing, delightfully playful villain Captain Hook on the award-winning stage (as well as TV) opposite America's musical treasure Mary Martin, beloved musical star Cyril Ritchard had a vast career that would last six decades, but "Peter Pan" would become his prime legacy. Born in Australia just before the turn of the century, he was educated at St. Aloysius College and Sydney University wherein he slyly sidestepped a parentally-guided career in medicine for entertainment, participating in numerous college productions that quickly got him "hooked." He began professionally in the chorus line of The Royal Comic Opera Company and quickly progressed to juvenile leads. A subsequent pairing with the already-established theatre actress Madge Elliott in 1918 proved successful, and the musical twosome eventually married in 1935. Together they would go on to become known as "The Musical Lunts" by their acting peers performing in scores of plays and revues together. Ritchard specialized in playing slick, dandified villains in musical comedy and developed a potent reputation of being a man of many talents. Not only directing and staging Broadway's finest, he became a renown performer of various operas and helmed many productions as such. Shortly before his wife's death of bone cancer in 1955, Ritchard ventured into TV infamy by repeating his Tony and Donaldson award-winning portrayal of Hook. He continued to earn acclaim and/or honors with such classic stage productions as "Visit to a Small Planet" (Tony-nom), "The Pleasure of His Company" (Drama League award, Tony-nom), "The Roar of the Greasepaint...the Smell of the Crowd" (Tony-nom), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Sugar," the musical version of the classic Billy Wilder film "Some Like It Hot" in which Ritchard played the Joe E. Brown role. Lesser regarded when it comes to film, he performed in the early Hitchcock classic Blackmail (1931) and made his last movie with the musical Half a Sixpence (1967) with Tommy Steele. While performing as the Narrator in a stage production of "Side by Side by Sondheim" in November 1977, Ritchard suffered a heart attack and died one month later. A one-of-a-kind talent, his nefarious, narcissitic humor was a career trademark that culminated in the role of a lifetime -- one that will certainly be enjoyed by children young and old for eons to come.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Madge Elliott (16 September 1935 - 8 August 1955) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (12)

Awarded a Tony in 1955 for Supporting Actor in the musical, 'Peter Pan'.
Staged, and occasionally appeared in, several operas at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, most notably Offenbach's "La Perichole", in which he also appeared as the Viceroy, and Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", in which he played the role of the mute servant, Ambroggio.
A devout Catholic, he attended daily mass religiously in New York, where he lived, or in whatever city he happened to be appearing.
When he died in 1977, he was survived by a foster son.
Starred in a 1950 radio version of "David Copperfield" with Richard Burton in the titular role and Cyril playing Micawber.
At one time owned a poodle named "Trim" a derivative of his surname "Trimnell-Ritchard.".
Appeared in scores of musical revues with wife Madge Elliott, who was once a ballet dancer with the "Exquisite Eight" who turned to musical comedy. They became instant stars in the musical "Going Up" in 1919.
His very first role (in Australia) was in a production of "The Pink Lady" in which he played "the Satyr," a foreshadowing of the devilish merry-making to come.
During the 20s when he visited New York to perform, he shared an apartment with Walter Pidgeon. They performed together in the revue "Puzzles of 1925."
Won Broadway's 1955 Tony Award as Best Supporting of Featured Actor (Musical) for playing Captain Hook, his signature role, in "Peter Pan," a performance he recreated in several television versions. Was also nominated for four other Tony Awards: in 1957, as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "A Visit to a Small Planet;" in 1959, as both Best Actor (Dramatic) and Best Director for "The Pleasure of His Company;" and in 1965 as Best Actor (Musical) for "The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd.:
Mary Martin, in the role of Peter Pan, received a Tony for Best Performance by a leading Actress in a Musical in the 1955 Tony Awards. Cyril Ritchard won a Tony for Best Performance by a supporting Actor in a Musical for his dual role as Mr. Darling and Captain James Hook. Technical Director Richard Rodda received a 1955 Tony Award for Best Stage Technician. The Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Opera founder and producer Edwin Lester acquired the American rights to adapt the J. M. Barrie's 1904 play "Peter Pan" and Barrie's own novelization of "Peter and Wendy" as a stage musical for Mary Martin. The music is by Mark Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, most of the lyrics written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Incidental music by Elmer Bernstein and Trude Rittman. Musical orchestrated by Albert Sendrey. Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Scenic Design by Peter Larkin, Costume Design by Motley, Lighting Design by Peggy Clark. Flying Supervisor Peter Foy and Flying Effect by Joseph Kirby. Prior to opening in San Francisco's Geary Street theatre district's Curran Theatre, the production was rehearsed at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. During the San Francisco performance schedule, additional musical material was ordered by Jerome Robbins and Edwin Lester, revisions continued when the expensive musical transferred to Los Angeles in August, 1954. The show opened in a busy Broadway season, competing with such notable shows as The Boy Friend, Fanny, Silk Stockings, and Damn Yankees. However, while still in Los Angeles, a deal was made for the musical to be broadcast on the NBC's Color Television network 90 minute anthology series "Producers' Showcase," that aired every fourth Monday, on March 7, 1955. "Peter Pan" opened on Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on 20 October 1954, with a limited run of 152 performances, closing 26 February 1955, closed so that it could be broadcast on television, although box office continued to be strong throughout the Broadway run. The aim of the "Producers' Showcase" was to broadcast expensive color spectaculars to promote the new color television system developed by NBC's parent company RCA. On March 7, 1955, NBC presented "Peter Pan" live as part of "Producer's Showcase" as the first full-length Broadway production on color TV. This 1955 NBC television production utilized the same Broadway theatre where the musical had been performing with the color television cameras situated throughout the theatre's main floor and balcony seating areas. The television show attracted a then-record viewing audience of 65 million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television broadcast program. Mary Martin won an EMMY Award for the 1955 television production. So well received that the musical was re-staged live for television on 9 January 1956 with the same cast, sets and costumes. Both of these broadcasts were produced live and in color, but only black-and-white Kinescope recordings survive.The telecast special followed with rebroadcasts in 1956, and in 1960 with the same stars, production costumes and scenery. The re-staged 1960 telecast had new children in the cast because the original kids had grown to old for their parts. The musical has enjoyed several revivals onstage in 1979, 1990, 1998.
He is the only person in Broadway history to win a Tony Award for playing two different characters in the same play, for his famous role of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling in Peter Pan.

Personal Quotes (1)

I have four notes, two of them good.

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