John Cairney
Born (1930-02-16) 16 February 1930 (age 92)
Occupationactor, writer
Years active1957–1999
Sheila Parker Cowan
(m. 1954; div. 1979)

Alannah O'Sullivan
(m. 1980)

John Cairney (born 16 February 1930) is a Scottish film and television actor who is well known to audiences in Scotland and internationally through his one-man shows on Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Service, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and William McGonagall.[1][2]

He has worked as an actor, recitalist, lecturer, director and theatre consultant. He is also a published author and an exhibited painter. Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he was a notable Hamlet at the Citizens' Theatre and a successful Macbeth at the Edinburgh Festival.[3] He was 'This Man Craig' on television, while his many films include Lucky Jim, A Night to Remember, Operation Bullshine, The Flesh and the Fiends, Victim, Cleopatra and Jason and the Argonauts.[4]

He gained a PhD from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand and is much in demand internationally as a lecturer, writer and consultant on Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Robert Burns.[5][6]

Cairney has written books on many famous Scots as well as other books on football (particularly Celtic F.C.), theatre and his native Glasgow, where he now lives with his New Zealand-born wife, actress and scriptwriter Alannah O'Sullivan.[5][6]

He is married to actress and playwright Alannah O'Sullivan.[7] He is the brother of footballer Jim Cairney. They were raised in the Parkhead area of Glasgow; the referee Tiny Wharton was a childhood acquaintance.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1957 Ill Met by Moonlight Elias
1957 Miracle in Soho Tom
1957 Lucky Jim Roberts
1957 Windom's Way Jan Vidal
1958 A Night to Remember Mr. Murphy
1959 Shake Hands with the Devil Mike O'Callaghan
1959 Operation Bullshine Gunner Willie Ross
1960 The Flesh and the Fiends Chris Jackson
1960 The Edgar Wallace Mysteries - Marriage of Convenience Larry Wilson
1961 Victim Bridie
1963 Cleopatra Phoebus
1963 Jason and the Argonauts Hylas
1964 The Devil-Ship Pirates Harry
1965 Spaceflight IC-1 Dr. Steven Thomas
1965 A Study in Terror Michael Osborne
1999 Nightmare Man Trapper


  1. ^ McIver, Brian (16 February 2012). "Scots acting legend John Cairney tells us about his Titanic adventures on classic movie A Night To Remember". dailyrecord.
  2. ^ "Seven stories from Mackintosh's artistic journey". 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Collection of material relating to John Cairney (b1930), actor, director and playwright - Archives Hub".
  4. ^ "John Cairney". BFI.
  5. ^ a b Cairney, John (20 July 2000). On the Trail of Robert Burns. Dundurn. ISBN 9780946487516.
  6. ^ a b "Author details | Scottish Book Trust".
  7. ^ "O'Sullivan, Alannah, 1951-". Retrieved 2 July 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Cairney, John (2011). The Sevenpenny Gate: A Lifelong Love Affair with Celtic FC. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1845967772.