Henry Stephenson
Henry Stephenson.jpg
Harry Stephenson Garraway

(1871-04-16)16 April 1871
Died24 April 1956(1956-04-24) (aged 85)
Resting placeKensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York
Years active1901–52
(m. 1906, dissolved)
(m. 1922)

Henry Stephenson (born Harry Stephenson Garraway; 16 April 1871 – 24 April 1956) was a British actor. He portrayed friendly and wise gentlemen in many films of the 1930s and 1940s. Among his roles were Sir Joseph Banks in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Mr. Brownlow in Oliver Twist (1948).

Life and career

Stephenson was born to British parents in Grenada, British West Indies and educated in England. He started acting in his twenties.[1] He appeared on British and American stages and made his Broadway debut in 1901, playing the messenger in A Message from Mars starring Charles Hawtrey. In the following decades, he performed in more than 30 Broadway plays.[2]

Stephenson made his film debut in 1917 and appeared in a few silent films, but made his mark mostly as an elderly man in sound films. Between 1931 and 1932, he appeared in the successful Broadway play Cynara with over 200 performances. He came to Hollywood for the film version of Cynara, starring Ronald Colman and with Stephenson reprising his role of John Tring. In the same year, he played the tycoon C.B. Gaerste in Red-Headed Woman, Leslie Howard's father Rufus Collier in The Animal Kingdom and Doctor Alliot in A Bill of Divorcement. In 1933, he appeared as Mr. Laurence in Little Women. He specialized in portraying wise, dignified and friendly British gentlemen in supporting roles.[3]

He appeared overall in 90 films from 1917 to 1951. He often played historical figures like Sir Joseph Banks in the Oscar-winning adventure film Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy-Argenteau in Marie Antoinette (1938).[3]

Stephenson worked with film star Errol Flynn in the films Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, often as Flynn's paternal friend and superior. He portrayed Sir Thomas Lancing in Tarzan Finds a Son! in 1939, and Sir Guy Henderson in Tarzan and the Amazons in 1945.[3]

He seldom played dark figures; among the exceptions was the snobbish Mr. Bryant in Mr. Lucky in 1943. Stephenson also appeared in literary adaptions, for example as the friendly lawyer Havisham in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) and as Mr. Brownlow in David Lean's film adaptation of Oliver Twist (1948). He made his last film in 1949, but appeared in two television series in 1951 before the end of his career.[3] In 1950, after finishing his role of Cardinal Gaspar de Quiroga in the play That Lady, Stephenson retired from the stage.


He married the Australian-born actress Roxy Barton (1879-1962) on 14 June 1906 at St Marylebone Parish Church in Marylebone in London.[4] Their daughter was the actress Jean Harriet Garraway (1911–2004). The marriage was later dissolved. He married the actress Ann Shoemaker; the couple had one daughter. Henry Stephenson died in 1956, aged 85. He was survived by his wife and his daughters.[3]


Henry Stephenson in Marie Antoinette (1938)
Henry Stephenson in Marie Antoinette (1938)
Henry Stephenson (middle) in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936); with C. Aubrey Smith (left) and Walter Kingsford (right)
Henry Stephenson (middle) in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936); with C. Aubrey Smith (left) and Walter Kingsford (right)
in the trailer forLittle Women (1933)
in the trailer for
Little Women (1933)