Seymour Hicks, a distinguished British actor who played the title role in Scrooge, the first sound production of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, after earlier starring in a silent version, was born in St Helier, Jersey, on 30 January 1871. He was one of the foremost British actors of the early 20th century.
He went to a preparatory school in Bath and at the age of nine he appeared in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore as Buttercup. From that point on he was determined to be an actor.
By the age of 16 he was appearing professionally on the British stage and two years later he was on Broadway with Mr and Mrs Kendal’s theatrical company on their American tour.
In 1893 he married a beautiful young actress, Ellaline Terriss, and they frequently appeared together on stage. Hicks was as much at home in the music hall and light comedy as he was in theatrical roles.
Seymour Hicks was knighted in 1934. He never forgot his Jersey roots and appeared at the Theatre Royal (now the Opera House) with his wife in 1900. His career developed into writing and production and he became very rich, enabling him to commission the building of new theatres in London, starting with the Aldwych, which opened in 1905 with Hicks and his wife in the leading roles in his own musical play Bluebell in Fairyland.
He appeared in silent movies and then started his own film production company. One day he quarreled on set with his director, who then walked off. Looking around the studio, Hicks noticed a young man who was working as an artist for another company but who had said that he wanted to be a film director. He called him over and said, ‘Let you and me finish this thing by ourselves.’ They did. The film was Alfred Hitchcock’s directing debut.