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NPG x195001; Frith Banbury - Portrait - National Portrait GalleryFrederick Harold Frith Banbury MBE (4 May 1912 – 14 May 2008) was a British theatre actor and director.[1]

Frith Banbury was born in Plymouth, Devon, on 4 May 1912, the son of Rear Admiral Frederick Arthur Frith Banbury and Winifred Fink.[2]

Banbury made his first stage appearance on 15 June 1933, playing a walk-on part in If I Were You at the Shaftesbury Theatre. He continued to act through the 1930s and 40s, appearing at such venues as the Ambassadors Theatre, the Little Theatre, the Gate Theatre, the Apollo Theatre, and the Q Theatre.[2]

While attending Stowe School, Banbury rejected his father's naval background by refusing to join the Officer Training Corps, later being registered as a conscientious objector, enabling him to continue acting throughout the Second World War.[3] He went on to attend Hertford College, Oxford,[2] though he left after one year without obtaining an academic degree.[3] He trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alongside Joan Littlewood, Rachel Kempson,[3] Robert Morley, and Peter Bull.[4]

After World War II, Banbury was invited back to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to direct. He made his professional directing breakthrough by directing Dark Summer, a play written by fellow pacifist Wynyard Browne. Other early successes for Banbury included The Holly and the Ivy, Waters of the Moon, and The Deep Blue Sea.[3] The latter was one of three plays which Banbury directed on Broadway, with the other two being Flowering Cherry and The Right Honourable Gentleman.[5] Other locations at which Banbury directed plays include the Old Vic theatre, the Edinburgh Festival, the Chichester Festival Theatre, Paris, Dublin, South Africa, Kenya, and Australia.[2]

NPG x195002; Frith Banbury - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

Life's Lessons: Frith Banbury

Banbury died on 14 May 2008, at the age of 96.[3][4]

The papers of Frith Banbury were purchased by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1990s as part of their extensive holdings of contemporary British theatre. The collection opened to the public in 1996. The archive consists of over sixty boxes of scripts, correspondence, posters, programs, photographs, publicity clippings and scrapbooks, reviews, and financial records pertaining to his career from 1926-1995.[6] The Ransom Center also holds a collection of material relating to the 1952 American production of Terrence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea, which was directed by Banbury.[1]


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