Cecil Kellaway

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Cecil Kellaway
Cecil Kellaway in The Postman Always Rings Twice trailer.jpg
from the trailer for
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Born Cecil Lauriston Kellaway[1]
(1890-08-22)22 August 1890
Cape Town, Cape Colony (present-day Cape Town, South Africa)
Died 28 February 1973(1973-02-28) (aged 82)
West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Years active 1921–1972
Spouse(s) Doreen Elizabeth Joubert (m. 1919–1973; his death); 2 sons
Children Peter Kellaway, Bryan Kellaway

Cecil Lauriston Kellaway (22 August 1890 – 28 February 1973)[2] was a South African character actor.[3] He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both The Luck of the Irish (1948) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).


Early life[edit]

Cecil Kellaway was born on 22 August 1890 in Cape Town, South Africa, he was the son of English parents, Rebecca Annie (née Brebner) and Edwin John Kellaway, an architect and engineer. Edwin had immigrated to Cape Town to help build the Houses of Parliament there, and he was a good friend of Cecil Rhodes, who was young Cecil's godfather.[4]

Cecil was interested in acting from an early age,[5][n 1] he was educated at the Normal College, Cape Town, and in England at Bradford Grammar School. He studied engineering and on his return to South Africa was employed in an engineering firm, however the lure of acting was too strong and he became a full-time actor, making his debut in Potash and Perlmutter.[4][6][7]

He briefly served in the army in 1914 but was invalided out.[8] Early plays included The Prince of Pilsen.

He toured for three years through China, Japan, Siam, Borneo, Malaya, North and South Africa, and Europe, in plays such as Monsieur Beaucaire.


Kellaway arrived in Australia in 1921 under contract to J. C. Williamson Ltd. He had a notable success as the comic father of four daughters in A Night Out which he played through most of 1922; he would often return to this role in later years and it kicked off a sixteen year association with Williamsons on the Australian stage, mostly in musical comedies.

For Williamsons he was in Mary (1922–23) then returned to A Night Out before going on to The Cabaret Girl (1923–24), Kissing Time (1924), Whirled Into Happiness (1924), Katja (1925), The Belle of New York (1925), Primrose (1925), A Night Out revival (1926), Frasquita (1927), Princess Charming (1928), Hold Everything (1929), Florodora (1931), A Warm Corner ( 1931), A Night Out again, Sons o' Guns (1931), Blue Roses (1932), Hold my Hand (1932), and The Gipsy Princess (1933).

Kellaway made his film debut in the lead of The Hayseeds (1933), a popular local comedy, directed by Beaumont Smith,[9] however his main focus was still the stage: The Dubarry (1934), Music in the Air (1934), Roberta (1935), High Jinks (1935), Ball at the Savoy (1935), A Southern Maid (1936) and White Horse Inn (1936).

He returned to films with the Australian Cinesound film It Isn't Done (1937), for which he also provided the original story. Directed by Ken G. Hall it was a popular success. It led to Kellaway being screen-tested by RKO Pictures and put under contract.[10]


RKO initially put Kellaway into small roles: Wise Girl (1937), Everybody's Doing It (1938), Double Danger (1938), Night Spot (1938), Maid's Night Out (1938), This Marriage Business (1938), Law of the Underworld (1938), Blond Cheat (1938) (billed third), Smashing the Rackets (1938), Tarnished Angel (1938), Annabel Takes a Tour (1938), Gunga Din (1939).

Kellaway returned to Australia for a second Cinesound film, Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1939), which featured a young Peter Finch. It was shot in October–November 1938.[11]

Back in Hollywood the scope and quality of his roles kept getting better, with Wuthering Heights (1939) as Cathy's father, The Sun Never Sets (1939), Man About Town (1939), The Under-Pup (1939), Intermezzo (1939), and We Are Not Alone (1939).

He was in Mexican Spitfire (1940), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The House of the Seven Gables (1940), Adventure in Diamonds (1940), Phantom Raiders (1940), Brother Orchid (1940), Pop Always Pays (1940), The Mummy's Hand (1940), Diamond Frontier (1940), Mexican Spitfire Out West (1940), and The Letter (1940). In Kitty (1945) (giving an excellent performance as painter Thomas Gainsborough), (1945), Love Letters (1945), as the ill-fated husband of Lana Turner's character in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), Harvey (1950), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).[12]

He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for The Luck of the Irish in 1948 and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967.[13]

On American television, he made a guest appearance in 1959 on Perry Mason as chemist and murderer Darrell Metcalf in "The Case of the Glittering Goldfish", and he received a billing credit in that episode equal to Raymond Burr's. Kellaway then guest-starred two years later on CBS's Western series Rawhide, portraying the character MacKay in the episode "Incident In The Middle of Nowhere".[citation needed]. In 1964 he played Santa Claus in the "Visions of Sugarplums" episode of "Bewitched"; in 1967, Kellaway played the part of a lonely, megawealthy much older suitor of Ann Marie (played by Marlo Thomas) in an episode of That Girl.[12] He also appeared as Admiral Snedecker in a 1969 episode of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.

Personal life[edit]

Kellaway married Doreen Elizabeth Joubert in Johannesburg on 15 November 1919.

His brother Alec Kellaway became a notable actor in his own right, his other brother Leion became ballet-master for Edouard Borovansky and the Australian Ballet.

His cousins were fellow actors Edmund Gwenn and Arthur Chesney.


Kellaway died after a long illness at a West Los Angeles convalescent home on February 28, 1973, he was survived by his wife, two sons, and four grandchildren. His gravesite is at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[12]

Complete filmography[edit]

Select theatre credits[edit]

  • Potash and Perlmutter – South Africa[4]
  • The Prince of Pilsen – South Africa[14]
  • The Little Whopper (1921)[15]
  • Monseuir Beaucaire (1917) – toured India and Africa[16]
  • A Night Out (Jan-Sept 1922) – Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide
  • Mary (Oct 1922-April 1923) – Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney
  • A Night Out (April 1923) – Sydney
  • The Cabaret Girl (Aug 1923-March 1924)
  • Kissing Time (May 1924) – Melbourne
  • Whirled into Happiness (June–July 1924) – Melbourne
  • Katja (December 1925) – Sydney
  • The Belle of New York
  • Primrose (August 1925) – Sydney
  • Frasquita (April 1927) – Sydney
  • Princess Charming (July 1928) – Brisbane
  • Hold Everything (July 1929)
  • Florodora (1931)
  • A Warm Corner (Sept 1931)
  • Sons o' Guns (1931)
  • Blue Roses (April–August 1932) – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Wellington, Auckland
  • Hold my Hand (October 1932) – Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney
  • The Gipsy Princess
  • The Dubarry (July 1934) – Theatre Royal, Adelaide
  • Music in the Air (July 1934) – Theatre Royal, Adelaide
  • Roberta (Marc 1935) – Theatre Royal, Sydney
  • High Jinks (May 1935) – Theatre Royal, Sydney
  • Ball at the Savoy (July 1935) – Adelaide
  • A Southern Maid (1937)
  • The Merry Widow – with Gladys Moncrieff


  1. ^ Some sources, including the German Wikipedia page at de:Cecil Kellaway, claim he was born in 1893; the page acknowledges the confusion and claims a majority of sources refer to 1893 as his birth year. Kellaway's Petition for Naturalization as a United States Citizen (#175514), filed in 1951, cites 1890.
  1. ^ Cecil Lauriston Kellaway (born 1890) filed a Petition (#175514) for Naturalization as a United States citizen in 1951; certificate #7411287 (per ancestry.com)
  2. ^ "Kellaway, Cecil (1890–1973)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Obituary, Variety, 7 March 1973, page 78.
  4. ^ a b c "GREENROOM GOSSIP". Table Talk (3303). Victoria, Australia. 27 August 1931. p. 16. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "THE KELLAWAY FAMILY ON STAGE AND SCREEN". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 August 1938. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Character Actor Cecil Kellaway is Dead at 79". Daily Times. 1 March 1973. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "The THEATRE & its PEOPLE". Table Talk (2032). Victoria, Australia. 17 July 1924. p. 21. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "Round the Shows". The News. V (629) (HOME ed.). Adelaide. 30 July 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "Edmonton Regent Theatre". Cairns Post (10,314). Queensland, Australia. 27 February 1935. p. 3. Retrieved 15 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "Cecil Kellaway profile". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 June 1937. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "CECIL KELLAWAY FOR LOCAL FILM". The Newcastle Sun (6409). New South Wales, Australia. 1 July 1938. p. 4. Retrieved 15 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ a b c Cecil Kellaway on IMDb
  13. ^ "Character Actor Cecil Kellaway is Dead". Daily Times. 1 March 1973. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Love Letters is Strong Psychological Fare". The Mercury. CLXIII (23,534). Tasmania. 11 May 1946. p. 3 (The Mercury Magazine). Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  15. ^ "THE LITTLE WHOPPER". The Sunday Times (1851). Sydney. 17 July 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  16. ^ "News From Hollywood". The Age (28,363). Victoria, Australia. 20 March 1946. p. 8. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]