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D. A. Clarke-Smith

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Clarke-Smith in 1921
Clarke-Smith in 1921

Douglas Alexander Clarke-Smith (2 August 1888 – 12 March 1959), professionally known as D. A. Clarke-Smith or sometimes Douglas A. Clarke-Smith was a British actor. In a stage career lasting from 1913 to 1954, with interruptions to fight in both World Wars, he played a wide range of roles, in modern commercial plays and established classics. He was seen onstage in the West End, on tour in Britain, and on Broadway. In addition to his stage career, he appeared frequently on BBC radio, and was seen in numerous films between 1929 and 1956.

Life and career

Early years

Clarke-Smith was born on 2 August 1888 at Montrose, Scotland. He was educated at Blackheath, London, and Pembroke College, Oxford, where he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1910.[1] He made his professional stage debut at the Kingsway Theatre in 1913 in Arnold Bennett's The Great Adventure, succeeding Clarence Derwent in the role of Ebag. On tour in the same play he was promoted to the leading role, Ilam Carve, created by Henry Ainley.[1]

In 1914 on the outbreak of the First World War Clarke-Smith joined the Royal Artillery, and was mentioned in despatches three times.[2] In 1919 he joined the Birmingham Repertory Company where his roles included Young Marlowe in She Stoops to Conquer, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Joseph Surface in The School for Scandal and in Shakespeare, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1.[1]

Clarke-Smith was producer for the Lena Ashwell Players for nearly a year from December 1919.[1] In 1920 he married the actress Alice Bowes. They had two children. The marriage was later dissolved.[1] In the 1920s and 1930s Clarke-Smith was often seen on the West End stage in new plays including Six Characters in Search of an Author, and also in classics, playing Bonnington in The Doctor's Dilemma, Rank in A Doll's House, Kroll in Rosmersholm, Brack in Hedda Gabler and Solness in The Master Builder, and Shakespearean roles including Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Malvolio and Benedick.[1] He appeared on Broadway in 1930 in Insult, by J. E. Harold Terry and Harry Tighe.[3]

Later years

In 1928 Clarke-Smith made the first of his many broadcasts for the BBC.[4] In 1939 he joined the BBC Repertory Company but left later in the year to serve once more in the Army, becoming a staff captain. He was invalided out in 1944 and returned to the stage at the Liverpool Playhouse as a member of the visiting Old Vic Company.[1] In June 1945 he married for the second time; his spouse was Catherine Rosemary Ellis; they had three children. Clarke-Smith's post-war stage career followed the pattern of his earlier years, interspersing new commercial plays with revivals of classics. The latter included Man and Superman in its entirety, including the rarely staged "Don Juan in Hell" episode; he played Roebuck Ramsden in the main play and the Statue of Don Gonzalo in the Hell scene. His final stage role was Mr Myers, QC, in Witness for the Prosecution in 1953–54.[1]

Clarke-Smith died on 12 March 1959, in Withyham in Sussex, aged 70.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Atlantic Freddie Tate–Hughes
1931 Bracelets Joe le Sage
1931 Michael and Mary Harry Price
1931 The Old Man John Lorney
1931 Shadows Gruhn
1932 Help Yourself Maj. Fred Harris
1932 The Frightened Lady Dr Amersham
1932 A Voice Said Goodnight Philip Gaylor
1932 A Letter of Warning Sir James Royd
1932 Illegal Franklyn Dean
1932 White Face Dr Rudd
1933 The Good Companions Ridvers
1933 Waltz Time Meyer
1933 The Ghoul Mahmoud
1933 Head of the Family Welsh
1933 I Was a Spy President of Investigation Board Uncredited
1933 Mayfair Girl Captain Merrow
1933 Smithy Boyd
1933 Friday the Thirteenth Max
1933 Turkey Time Westbourne
1933 The Thirteenth Candle Blades
1933 The Laughter of Fools Plunket
1933 I'm an Explosive Lord Ferndale
1933 High Finance Dodman
1933 Follow the Lady Flash Bob
1934 Flat Number Three Kettler
1934 Keep It Quiet Vendervell
1934 Designing Women Bowsfield
1934 Passing Shadows Stranger
1934 Warn London Dr Nicoletti
1934 A Cup of Kindness Mr Jim Finch
1934 The Perfect Flaw Louis Maddox
1934 Money Mad Phillips
1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much Binstead
1934 Lorna Doone Counsellor Doone
1934 The Feathered Serpent Joe Farmer
1934 Menace Sir Robert Conway
1935 Key to Harmony Rupert Golder
1935 Regal Cavalcade Narrator Voice
1935 Murder by Rope Hanson
1936 Southern Roses Senor Estrello
1936 The Happy Family Mr Harrison
1937 Cafe Colette
1937 Splinters in the Air Warrant Officer
1937 Little Miss Somebody Mr Borden
1938 I've Got a Horse Fowler, Kings Counsel
1939 Wanted by Scotland Yard Inspector Williams
1939 Flying Fifty–Five Jacques Gregory
1947 Frieda Herriot
1951 Quo Vadis Phaon
1952 Something Money Can't Buy Critic
1952 The Pickwick Papers Dodson
1953 The Sword and the Rose Cardinal Wolsey
1954 Beau Brummell Sir John Wyatt Uncredited
1956 The Man Who Never Was Consul Smith Uncredited
1956 The Baby and the Battleship The Admiral

References and sources


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Parker, Gaye and Herbert, pp. 459–461
  2. ^ a b "Mr D. A. Clarke-Smith", The Times, 13 March 1959, p. 15
  3. ^ "Insult", Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 4 August 2021
  4. ^ "D. A. Clarke-Smith", BBC Genome. Retrieved 4 August 2021


  • Parker, John; Freda Gaye; Ian Herbert (1978). Who Was Who in the Theatre. Detroit: Gale Research. OCLC 310466458.
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D. A. Clarke-Smith
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