January 23, 2017

Actors

Barry Jones (1893-1981) b. Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK.

Barry Jones

Barry Cuthbert Jones was born on 6th March 1893 in St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands. He was the youngest of eight children born to William John Jones and Amelia Hammond nee. Robilliard.

He grew up on the island and was educated at Elizabeth College, St. Peter Port, Guernsey.

In 1900, Sir Frank and Lady Benson brought their troupe of Shakespearian players from Stratford-on-Avon to Guernsey to perform there and seeing this, seven year old Barry wrote to them, applying to join the cast! He was tactfully advised it would be better to wait until he was a bit older! However, somebody in the family took Barry to see the plays and he was so impressed and smitten with what he saw, he promptly announced that he was going to be an actor when he grew up and he was going to play Shakespeare with Sir Frank Benson!

When in 1914 war was declared, Barry immediately joined up with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Because of his ancestry, he actually had the right to join the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, a company that was made up of the men who came over with William the Conqueror and who fought so bravely with him at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 that they were promised that they could only ever be called to war by the English king if he personally led them to battle. Since the monarch – George V – was only the Duke of Normandy to Guernsey men, the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry was not called into battle.

He suffered from shell-shock and was also seriously wounded in France in March 1916, while with the 16th (Irish) Division. He returned to Guernsey to recover and later returned to the army. At the end of the war, he was transferred to the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, where he remained until February 1921, when he left the army, announcing that he was “going on the stage” and finally did join Sir Frank Benson’s company. His first appearance on stage was in March 1921 in The Merchant of Venice.

In 1923 – 1924 he toured Canada and the US, appearing in many plays, including The Romantic Age, Monsieur Beucani, Man and the Masses, The Bully and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He continued to feature in plays for the next few years and it wasn’t until 1931 that Barry finally got his opportunity in films, playing Captain Bluntshli in Arms and The Man, directed by Cecil Lewis and shot mainly in North Wales.

He continued to tour in stage plays, both in the UK and in Canada and the US and at the outbreak of WWII, he returned to London and signed up as a Special Constable. Films were playing an increasingly large part in his life and in 1950 he landed the lead role of Professor John Malcolm Francis Willingdon in the Boulting Brothers’ Oscar winning thriller Seven Days To Noon. His movie and television characters were generally of an intellectual or aristocratic nature, including Aristotle in Alexander the Great (1955), Count Rostov in War and Peace (1956) and Julius Caesar in the Shakespearean TV series Spread of the Eagle (1963).

Barry continued to make films and appear on stage with the stamina of men half his age. When asked in later life why he kept going for so long, he replied that he agreed he should have retired but could never resist the call to the stage.

Finally, however, after making The Heroes of Telemark, he retired in 1966, selling his house in London and moving back to his native Guernsey where he lived at Le Catioroc in La Perelle, a house once commandeered by the Germans and bought by Barry with money lent to him by his elder sister, Lady Mabel Minnie Monteath.

He remained living on the island, eventually moving into the Westcroft Nursing Home, where he died, aged 88 on 1st May 1981.

Compiled by Clive Saunders.



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