Henry Kendall
In The Hotel Mouse, 1921
Born(1897-05-28)28 May 1897
London, England
Died9 June 1962(1962-06-09) (aged 65)
Le Rayol, France
Occupation(s)Actor, director, revue artiste

Henry Kendall AFC, (28 May 1897 – 9 June 1962) was an English stage and film actor, theatre director and revue artiste.

His early theatrical career was curtailed by the First World War, in which he served with distinction. Resuming his stage career in 1919 he appeared mostly in the West End, with one excursion to Broadway and occasional tours of the British provinces, particularly during the Second World War. He was dismissive of his career as a screen actor, but made more than 40 films for the cinema. As a theatre director he was responsible for more than 20 productions, in a minority of which he also starred.

In his later years he had heart problems, which forced his temporary withdrawal from the theatre in 1957. He died of a heart attack in the south of France in 1962, at the age of 65. He was unmarried.

Early life

Kendall was born in London in 1897, the son of William Kendall and his wife Rebecca, née Nathan.[1] He was educated at the City of London School.[1] He began his stage career "walking on" (as a non-speaking extra) in Tommy Atkins at the Lyceum Theatre in 1914. From then until he joined the armed forces during the First World War he was first a chorus member in Business as Usual at the Hippodrome Theatre (1914), then a supporting player in Watch Your Step (Empire Theatre, 1915); and for nine months a member of the Old Vic company, playing juvenile parts in Shakespeare repertory, including Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing, Florizel in The Winter's Tale, and Sebastian in Twelfth Night (1915–1916).[1]

From 1916–1919 Kendall served as a captain in the Royal Flying Corps (latterly the Royal Air Force), winning the Air Force Cross.[1]

Stage career from 1919

1919 to 1930

In the post-war decade Kendall played more than 30 roles in the West End and on Broadway:[1]

coloured sketch of young man and young woman in smart 1920s day wear
Faith Celli and Kendall in Threads, 1921
Play Role Theatre Year
Cyrano de Bergerac Second Marquis Garrick 1919
Cyrano de Bergerac Christian Drury Lane 1919
Mumsie Guy Little 1920
French Leave Lt George Graham Globe 1920
Where the Rainbow Ends Saint George Apollo 1920
Polly With a Past Harry Richardson St James's 1921
The Circle Edward Luton[n 1] Haymarket 1921
Threads James St James's 1921
The Hotel Mouse Barry Scarlett Queen's 1921
Two Jacks and a Jill Tom Godling Royalty 1921
The Curate's Egg Various roles Ambassadors 1922
Arms and the Man Bluntschli Everyman 1922
East of Suez Harold Knox His Majesty's 1922
Marriage by Instalments John Wiltshire Ambassadors 1923
Stop Flirting Geoffrey Dangerfield Shaftesbury 1923
Havoc Dick Chappell Regent 1923
Havoc Dick Chappell Haymarket 1924
Bachelor Husbands Billy Reynolds Royalty 1924
As You Like It Orlando Regent 1924
Charlot's Revue Various Prince of Wales 1924
Tunnel Trench Lt St Aubyn Prince's 1925
The Czarina Count Alexei Czerny Q 1925
On 'Change Dr Tom Pearson Savoy 1925
Naughty Cinderella Gerald Gray Lyceum, New York 1925
This Woman Business Honey Ritz, New York 1926
The Silent House Capt Philip Barty Comedy 1927
The Road to Rome Mago Strand 1928
A Damsel in Distress Reggie Higgins New 1928
Wrongs and Rights Hugh Rawson Strand 1928
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep Hugo Bonsor New 1929
The Flying Fool Vincent Floyd Prince's 1929
He's Mine Maxime de Bellencontre Lyric 1929
The Ghost Train Teddy Deakin Comedy 1929

1930 to 1945

In the 1930s and during the Second World War Kendall continued to appear mainly in the West End, but toured in three productions:

Play Role Theatre Year
Odd Numbers John Strange Comedy 1930
Charlot's Masquerade revue – various Cambridge 1930
A Murder Has Been Arranged Maurice Mullins Strand and St James's 1930
Cut for Partners Hugo tour 1934
Someone at the Door Ronnie Martin Aldwych and New 1935
The World Waits Kenneth Brice Aldwych 1935
Bats in the Belfry Edward Morton Ambassadors 1937
This Money Business Gerald Esmond Ambassadors 1938
Room for Two Hubert Crone Comedy 1938
Punch Without Judy Micky Saunders Q 1939
House Party Michael Drumley Q 1940
Nap Hand Johnny Potter tour 1940
High Temperature Tony Hamilton Q and Duke of York's 1940
High Temperature Tony Hamilton tour 1941
Rise Above It revue – various Comedy 1941
Scoop revue – various Vaudeville Theatre 1942
A Little Bit of Fluff John Ayers Ambassadors 1943
The Fur Coat Dominic Mallory Comedy 1943
Sweet and Low revue – various[n 2] Ambassadors 1944
Sweeter and Lower revue – various Ambassadors 1944

1945 to 1961

Play Role Theatre Year
Sweetest and Lowest revue Ambassadors 1946
À la Carte revue Savoy Theatre 1948
On Monday Next... Harry Blacker[n 3] Embassy and Comedy 1949;
For Love or Money Lovewell Ambassadors 1950
The Dish Ran Away Peter Perry Vaudeville 1950
Caprice revue – various touring 1950
The Happy Family Henry Lord Duchess 1951
Angels in Love Pomeroy-Jones Savoy 1954
Portrait of a Woman Montague Cloud[n 4] Q 1954
Beat the Panel[n 5] Oliver Charrington Royal, Nottingham,
and Embassy, London
The Call of the Dodo Julian Lassiter Royal, Nottingham 1955
Where the Rainbow Ends Joseph Flint[n 4] New Victoria 1958
Let Them Eat Cake Lord Whitehall Cambridge Theatre 1959
Aunt Edwina title role Fortune Theatre 1959
Pools Paradise Bishop of Lax[n 4] Phoenix and on tour 1961

Film career

Kendall dismissed his own films, several of which were quota quickies, with the remark that he "commenced film career 1931, and has appeared in innumerable pictures".[1] He played the leading role of Reggie Ogden in the film The Shadow in 1933, and also starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "bravest failure", Rich and Strange, originally released in the United States as East of Shanghai, (1931).[2] Kendall's films included:[3]


As a West End revue artiste Kendall appeared in Charlot's Revue at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1924 and Charlot's Masquerade at the Cambridge Theatre in 1930. He co-starred with Hermione Gingold in the three long-running Sweet and Low revues, with scripts by Alan Melville, first taking over from Walter Crisham in 1944; this was followed in June 1948 by the À la Carte revue at the Savoy Theatre.[1]

He appeared with Hermione Baddeley and Hermione Gingold ("The Two Hermiones"), Walter Crisham and Wilfred Hyde-White, in Leslie Julian Jones's revue Rise Above It, first at the Q Theatre in January 1941, when Hedley Briggs was nominally directing; then in two West End editions of the show which ran for a total of 380 performances at the Comedy Theatre opening in June 1941 and again in December 1941, when he was both starring in and directing the show.

He observed in his autobiography:

Of all forms of theatrical entertainment, revue is the most bitchy. The material is bitchy, the artists are bitchy and, strangely enough, the average revue audience is bitchy. And here I was starring with two acknowledged 'Queens of Revue' [Baddeley and Gingold], faced also with the task of director... call[ing] for every possible ounce of tact and diplomacy. Then came the vexed question of "billing" – who should take precedence, Baddeley or Gingold (or should I say Gingold or Baddeley)? It was the responsibility of the management to make the decision. ... [the] solution was quite simple: we had two sets of bills and placards, used on alternate weeks throughout the run, which satisfied both the ladies.[4]


In addition to a busy career as an actor and entertainer Kendal was frequently engaged as a director, staging, among other plays, the first productions of See How They Run (Peterborough Rep, tour and Q Theatre 1944; Comedy Theatre 1945), and The Shop at Sly Corner (St Martin's Theatre 1945). He also directed numerous plays at the Embassy Theatre and Q Theatre.[5]

In Chapter 23 of his autobiography, 'I Remember Romano's', 'An Alligator and Mr. Chaplin', (Macdonald, London, 1960), Kendal wrote that Peter Daubeny asked him in 1955 to " ...keep an eye on, (produce), his revival at the Palace", (Palace Theatre, London), of The Merry Widow, starring Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth, while he was on business in Paris.

Among his productions were:

Kendall's autobiography was published by MacDonald & Co in 1960; it was called I Remember Romanos.[1]

In his later years Kendal suffered from heart trouble. He had to give up work for a while in 1957 after a heart attack. In February 1960 he was hospitalised after suffering another attack at his house in Hampstead. He had a final, fatal attack while staying at Le Rayol in the South of France, on 9 June 1962, at the age of 65.[6] He was unmarried.[6]

Notes, references and sources


  1. ^ succeeding Leon Quartermaine.[1]
  2. ^ succeeded Walter Crisham[1]
  3. ^ also directed, in association with Shaun Sutton[1]
  4. ^ a b c also directed[1]
  5. ^ later retitled The Lion in the Lighthouse.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Parker, Gaye and Herbert, pp. 1351–1353
  2. ^ Halliwell's Film Guide
  3. ^ Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies, Fourth Edition, ed John Walker, HarperCollins (2006) ISBN 0-00-716957-4
  4. ^ Quoted in On Q: Jack and Beatie de Leon and the Q Theatre, by Kenneth Barrow (1992)
  5. ^ On Q: Jack and Beatie de Leon and the Q Theatre by Kenneth Barrow, Heritage Publications (1992) ISBN 978-0-9519089-0-7
  6. ^ a b "Mr Henry Kendall", The Times, 11 June 1962, p. 12; and "Henry Kendall", Birmingham Daily Post, 11 June 1962, p. 3