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Forbes-Robertson, Johnston

FORBES-ROBERTSON, JOHNSTON (1853- ), English actor, was the son of John Forbes-Robertson of Aberdeen, an art critic. He was educated at Charterhouse, and studied at the Royal Academy schools with a view to becoming a painter. But though he kept up his interest in that art, in 1874 he turned to the theatre, making his first appearance in London as Chastelard, in Mary, Queen of Scots. He studied under Samuel Phelps, from whom he learnt the traditions of the tragic stage. He played with the Bancrofts and with John Hare, supported Miss Mary Anderson in both England and America, and also acted at different times with Sir Henry Irving. His refined and artistic style, and beautiful voice and elocution made him a marked man on the English stage, and in Pinero's The Profligate at the Garrick theatre (1889), under Hare's management, he established his position as one of the most individual of London actors. In 1895 he started under his own management at the Lyceum with Mrs Patrick Campbell, producing Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth and also some modern plays; his impersonation as Hamlet was especially fine, and his capacity as a romantic actor was shown to great advantage also in John Davidson's For the Crown and in Maeterlinck's Pelléas and Mélisande. In 1900 he married the actress Gertrude Elliott, with whom, as his leading lady, he appeared at various theatres, producing in subsequent years The Light that Failed, Madeleine Lucette Riley's Mice and Men, and G. Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, Jerome K. Jerome's Passing of the Third Floor Back, etc. His brothers, Ian Robertson (b. 1858) and Norman Forbes (b. 1859), had also been well-known actors from about 1878 onwards.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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