His father worked for Scotland Yard's Special Branch, but young Rowland decided to pursue a career in acting. Born in Walthamstow on 21 December 1925, Rowland Thomas Bartrop joined the London Stage Academy in 1943 and was initially promoted for juvenile parts. During the war he toured with NAAFI and ENSA in French Without Tears playing support to Rex Harrison and Anna Neagle. He did a good deal of theatre work in both London and the provinces, and performed in Shakespeare on records, notably Coriolanus starring Richard Burton. In the 1950s Bartrop moved to television and it was on the series Sword of Freedom (1957) that he became a good friend of Edmund Purdom. The two actors decided to further their careers in Europe, mainly in costume movies. Bartrop's memorable roles were Horatio Nelson in The Battle of Austerlitz (1960) and friend-of-the-hero to Steve Reeves in The Son of Spartacus (1962). In Europe, Bartrop (who spoke several languages) shortened his first name to "Roland." However, when he played a German officer in two Italian films it was the idea of the producer, as a little joke, to bill him in the credits as "Roland von Bartrop." Bartrop's death went largely unreported, but his family believe that his early death at 43 was due to a suspected heart attack, surprisingly since he kept himself extremely fit for action roles. At the time of his death the actor was living in Switzerland. His widow, actress Colette Bartrop, had appeared with him in Faces in the Dark (1960).