Cyril Ritchard

Cyril Ritchard & Cathleen Nesbitt
Cyril Ritchard & Cathleen Nesbitt

IMDB entry:

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.

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh /

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