Murray Melvin, the English actor, director, and archivist, left an indelible mark on the world of theatre. His career spanned decades, and his outlook was profoundly influenced by his time working with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. Let’s explore the life of Murray Melvin, his marriages, and his unwavering commitment to the stage.
Is Murray Melvin Married?
Murray Melvin’s marital history is little documented. Melvin was born on August 10, 1932, in St. Pancras, London, and was an English actor. In Westminster, London, he passed away on April 14th, 2023.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004), A Taste of Honey (1961), and Barry Lyndon (1975) were among Melvin’s most well-known roles. He also collaborated with Ken Russell, Stanley, and Joan Littlewood. Melvin was both a director and archivist at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
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Murray Melvin Death
Actor and director Murray Melvin, who recently passed away at the age of 90, enjoyed a long and successful career in theater, cinema, and television. His worldview was much influenced by his time spent in the late 1950s with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) April 15, 2023
He played essential parts in her productions of A Taste of Honey, The Hostage, and Oh, What a Lovely War, and he was a firm believer in the importance of preserving her legacy for future generations.
As archivist for the Theatre Royal beginning in 1991, he amassed a massive collection of priceless artifacts that he eventually gave to the British Library in 2021. Melvin had a long career spanning multiple mediums, and he applied the physical perfection he learned in ballet to every project he took on.
For his role in Tony Richardson’s A Taste of Honey, for which he won the Cannes Festival’s Best Actor prize in 1962, he went on to star in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) and become a favorite actor of Ken Russell’s.
From his untimely demise in the first episode of The Avengers (1961) to his role as the villainous Bilis Manger in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood (2007), his television career spanned decades.
He directed everything from Graeme Garden pantomimes to operas at the Royal Albert Hall. His dedication to Littlewood and the Stratford East theater was the driving force behind all he did; anyone interested in the theater’s history would find him to be a lively, entertaining, and consistently informed guide.
Murray Melvin, the only child of RAF officer Hugh Melvin and Maisie (née Driscoll) Melvin, was born in St. Pancras, London. At the age of 14, he dropped out of high school and went on to take a series of unfulfilling jobs, including clerk and secretary to the director of the RAF sports board.
At the City Literary Institute, he found his true calling in the studies of drama, mime, and classical ballet; thus, he decided to apply for the prestigious, although impoverished, Theatre Workshop in September 1957. He was quickly hired on as a “dogsbody,” “assistant stage manager,” and “bit player” thanks to a modest grant from the Co-operative Society.
Littlewood was looking to cast Geoff, the young man who tenderly cares for the pregnant heroine in A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, and she remembered him from when she launched the role in May 1958.
She recalled that Murray “always made tea, tidied the green room, took care of us – Geoff to the life” in her autobiography. Melvin’s sensitive portrayal of the reticently gay Geoff stood out to reviewer Lindsay Anderson, who dubbed his work “a miracle of tact and sincerity” in a theater publication.
In a later conversation with Melvin, Dirk Bogarde revealed that Melvin’s portrayal in Victim had done more for the cause of homosexuality than the entirety of the film itself.
Six months after his success in A Taste of Honey, Melvin was a natural choice to play the 18-year-old soldier held hostage by the IRA in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage; the role was Melvin’s favorite, and he regretted missing the West End transfer because he was already performing in A Taste of Honey.
The company’s most enormous success came in 1963 with Oh, What a Lovely War. As he put it, “for the actors,” he added, “it was a voyage of discovery in that Joan assigned us all reading lists on which we had to report, and some mornings we came into the rehearsal room in tears at the horror of it all.” Despite Joan’s apparent knack for improvising, it’s essential to keep in mind that her performances were well planned out, much like a Mozart symphony.