Leslie French Biography (1904-1999)

See index for CTFT sketch: Born April 23, 1904, in Bromley, Kent, England; died on January 2, 1999. Actor, singer, director. A product of the London School of Choristers, French came early to the stage, joining the Ben Greetcompany in 1918, at the age of fourteen. He made his youthful reputation playing the part of Puck in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and ofAriel in The Tempest. It was in the latter role, which scandalized some for French played it nearly naked, that he inspired the sculptor Eric Gillto create a piece entitled Prospero and Ariel for the facade of the Broadcasting House, which opened in Portland Place in London in 1931. His heyday wasthe 1920s and 1930s, when French used his vocal and ballet training to bringnew life to such parts as Feste in Sadler's Wells, Eros in Antony and Cleopatra, and, opposite John Gielgud, as the Fool in King Lear. He began directing plays for the theater during World War II, when he was amember of the International Ballet Company, and he opened the Maynardville Open Theatre in Capetown, South Africa, in 1955, where, over the course of theensuing decades he directed and taught numerous multiracial casts in annualproductions of Shakespeare. He was awarded with the key to the city of Capetown in 1963, and received several gold medals from groups in recognition of his contributions to the arts and culture, including the Port Elizabeth Shakespeare Society in 1973, the Grahamstown Festival in 1977, and the 1820 Settlersin 1978.

Birth Details
April 23, 1904
Bromley, Kent, England

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