(1 December 1897 – 18 December
1977) was an Australian stage
and television actor
. He is probably best
remembered today for his campy performance as Captain Hook in the
musical production of
Life and career
born Cyril Trimnell-Ritchard in Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, son of
Sydney-born parents, Herbert Trimnell Ritchard, a Protestant grocer, and his wife Marguerite, a
devout Roman Catholic who ensured her
son was raised and educated (by the Jesuits at St Aloysius'
College) as a Catholic.
In consequence, he became an
equally devout Roman Catholic who attended Sunday Mass
wherever he happened to be.
Early in his career, Ritchard played in numerous musical comedies
, including Yes, Uncle!
and Going Up
, both in 1918 and both with
Madge Elliott (later his wife).
achieved star status in 1954 as Captain
Hook in the Broadway production
of Peter Pan
co-starring Mary Martin, with whom he
shared the same birthday (1 December).
For his work in the
show, Ritchard received a Tony
He also appeared onstage in The Happiest Girl in the
The Roar of
the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd
(with Anthony Newley
), Roar Like a Dove
and The Irregular Verb to Love
His film appearances include a villainous role in Alfred Hitchcock's
early talkie Blackmail
(1929) and much later
in the Tommy Steele
Half a Sixpence
Ritchard also appeared regularly on a variety of television
programs in the late 1950s and 1960s. For example, he did a stint
as one the What's My
Line? mystery guests
on the December 22, 1957, episode of
the popular Sunday night CBS
-TV program. Later,
Ritchard also served as a guest panelist on that quiz show, where
he was, perhaps comically, referred to as 'Sir Cyril'. However,
Cyril Ritchard was never knighted
A memorable television out-take
Ritchard saying 'Goodnight' to an audience, before spinning a ball
on a roulette wheel. Ritchard watches as the ball rattles around
the wheel, seemingly interminably, before it finally bounces off
the wheel, hits the spindle and flies off-screen.
Shortly before he died, Ritchard performed as the voice of Elrond
in the Rankin/Bass
television production of The
. He suffered a heart attack
on 25 November 1977, at
the age of 80, while appearing as the narrator in the Chicago
touring company of Side by Side by Sondheim
. He died a month later
in Chicago and was buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Ridgefield,
Connecticut where he had long resided in his rural home.
His funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
. He survived his wife, Madge who
died in 1955, and a baby boy who died in infancy in 1939.
- It'll Be
Alright on the Night 3, ITV 1981
- Cyril Ritchard