Oliver Johnston
Publicity still, 1960
Oliver Griffen Johnston

(1888-04-30)30 April 1888
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Died22 December 1966(1966-12-22) (aged 78)
Westminster, London, England
Years active1938–1966

Oliver Griffen Johnston (30 April 1888 – 22 December 1966) was an English actor. After training at RADA, his theatre work included the original production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street at Malvern (1930) and its subsequent West End transfer (1930-1932).[1][2][3] Johnston started his film career in 1938, when he was already 50 years old.[4] Working until shortly before his death, he appeared in nearly 90 film and television productions, where he often portrayed meek or mild-mannered types in supporting roles.[5]

Johnston had a rather unremarkable film acting career until he was nearly 70 years, when he was discovered by Charlie Chaplin.[1] He is perhaps best-remembered for his role in Chaplin's A King in New York (1957), where he played a large supporting role as the "faithful ambassador and solemn-serious straight man" to Chaplin's King.[6] Afterwards he got more acting offers, including the literature adaption Kidnapped (1960) and fantasy/horror pictures like The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) and It! (1967).[4]

One of his last roles, released after his death in December 1966 at age 78, was in Chaplin's last film A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).[7] Here Johnston portrayed an old British businessman in Hong Kong, who introduces the leading characters of Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren to each other in the opening scenes.

Filmography (selection)

Year Title Role Notes
1938 Kate Plus Ten Cunningham
1939 Stolen Life Prof. Bardesley
1953 The Good Beginning Owen Uncredited
1954 Dangerous Voyage Dr. Waverley
1954 Tale of Three Women Butler (segment "Wedding Gift")
1955 Room in the House
1957 The Hypnotist Doctor Kenyon
1957 You Can't Escape Uncredited
1957 A King in New York Ambassador Jaume
1958 Indiscreet Mr. Finleigh Uncredited
1958 The Son of Robin Hood Apothecary
1958 Nowhere to Go Mr. Hopkins Uncredited
1959 Beyond This Place Prusty
1959 The Night We Dropped a Clanger Air Commodore Turner
1960 A Touch of Larceny Minister
1960 Kidnapped Mr. Campbell
1960 The 3 Worlds of Gulliver Mr. Grinch Uncredited
1961 Francis of Assisi Father Livoni
1961 Raising the Wind Prof. Parkin
1962 Backfire! Bernard Curzon Edgar Wallace Mysteries
1963 The Fast Lady Bulmer
1963 Island of Love Prof. Krumwitz
1963 Dr. Crippen Lord Chief Justice
1963 The Three Lives of Thomasina Mr. Dobbie
1964 The Tomb of Ligeia Kenrick
1965 You Must Be Joking! Angry Tweedles Club Member Uncredited
1967 A Countess from Hong Kong Clark
1967 It! Curator Trimingham (final film role)


  1. ^ a b Name, Your Museum. "A King in New York : Oliver Johnston - ECCI00010328". www.charliechaplinarchive.org.
  2. ^ "Production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  3. ^ Wearing, J. P. (15 May 2014). The London Stage 1930-1939: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810893047 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b "Oliver Johnston". BFI.
  5. ^ "Oliver Johnston". IMDb.
  6. ^ Kenneth Lynn: Charlie Chaplin and His Times, page 500
  7. ^ "A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) - Charlie Chaplin | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.