KENYON, Charles, actor. b. Bury, Lancs, 20 July, 1878; s. of Elise (Genth) and James Kenyon ; e. Eton.
First appeared in London with Sir Charles Wyndham, at the Criterion, 1909, playing David Cairn in "Mrs. Gorririge's Necklace" ; subsequently played with Miss Horniman's repertory company, at Manchester; in 1910, with Miss Darragh, founded the Liverpool Repertory Theatre, and appeared there in "Strife," "The Choice," "Nan," "Cupid and the Styx," etc.; after playing at Kelly's, Liverpool, toured in 1911 with his own company in " The Prisoner of Zenda," and "Stephen Machinate, M.P."; assumed the management of the Little Theatre, Jan., 1912, appearing as the Rev. Harry Pemberton in "The Blindness of Virtue"; subsequently produced "Rutherford and Son" at the same theatre, which was afterwards transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre ; appeared at the New Theatre, May, 1912, as Lionel Carteret in "Mrs. Dane's Defence" ; at the Little Theatre, Oct., 1912, played Alcides in "The Sacrifice" ; at the Theatre Royal, Bury, Dec., 1912, appeared as Lieutenant Alexis Petrovitch and Hamilton Tregethner in "By Right of Sword" ; subsequently appeared in music-hall sketch, "Our Mutual Wife"; at the Comedy, May, 1913, played Simon Harness in "Strife"; at the Aldwych, June, 1913, appeared as Charles Harvey in "The Duchess's Necklace"; at the Vaudeville, Aug., 1913, played Dr. Alan Campbell in "The Picture of Dorian Grey"; Sept., 1913, Basil Hallward in the same piece ; at the Coronet, Dec., 1913, René in "Woman on her Own"; at the Vaudeville, Jan., 1914, George Latimer in "Mary Girl"; at the Lyceum, Feb., 1914, John Harrison in "You Made Me Love You"; from 1915-18 inclusive, was engaged on active service during the war; at the New Theatre, Jan., 1919, appeared as Sir Roger de la Haye in "The Chinese Puzzle"; at the Duke of York's, July, 1920, as George Edmondson in "Brown Sugar"; at the Garrick, Sept., 1920, in conjunction with Leon M. Lion, produced "The Right to Strike," in which he appeared as Dr. Wrigley; Jan., 1921, played Antonin Mairaut in "The Three Daughters of M. Dupont"; in June, 1921, toured with Iris Hoey in a sketch "The Evening Blast," subsequently touring as Captain Yeulatt in "The Wheel."
With his own company at the St.James's, May. 1923, he played Vincent Helmore in "The Outsider", and in August 1923, succeeded Leslie Faber as Anton Ragatzy in the same play.
In Jan., 1924, toured in the last-mentioned part, with his own company; at the Prince's, Oct., 1924, played Edward Formby in "The Blue Peter," which he produced in conjunction with Alban Limpus ; Aldwych (for the Interlude Players), Apr., 1925, played Adrian St. Clair in "The Passionate Adventure"; Duke of York's, Sept. 1925, Hal Kendal in "De Luxe Annie"; Wyndham's, Dec., 1925, Paul Roland in "The Godless"; Scala (for playmates), July, 1926, Julian Hals in "The Strugglers." Recreations: Hunting, golf, tennis, etc. Club: Savage. Address : 15 Campden Hill Court, Kensington, W.8. Telephone No.: Western 4759.
The following biography of Charles was submitted by his Grandson Nigel:
Charles Kenyon -- Actor/Manager -1878-1955 Charles Kenyon was born in July 1878 as the second son of a prosperous woollen textile manufacturer- James - and a German mother- Elise - the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The family business, based in Bury Lancashire, had been established in 1664 and grown up into a substantial organisation through the British Industrial Revolution. It was from this secure background of his father's home, Walshaw Hall nr Bury, that Kenyon was able to view the world as he grew up, with artistic temperament stemming from his mother who was a talented, Berlin Conservatoire trained pianist. Although she never played professionally, she was on first name terms with well-known European musical families such as Schumann, Wagner et al.
After schooling at a traditional prep school and Eton, Kenyon progressed a theatrical career from grassroots acting academy through the ranks of "amateur dramatics" and more serious professional touring companies, sometimes financed by himself. He first appeared in London with Sir Charles Wyndham at the Criterion Theatre in 1909 playing David Cairn in "Mrs Gorringe's Necklace. From then until 1915 - the First World War - Kenyon was actively involved either as player or producer - sometimes both at the same time. Notable successes included: Founding the Liverpool Repertory 'theatre In 1911, touring his own company with "The Prisoner of Zenda", assuming management of the Little Theatre In 1912, a wide variety of parts and productions (16) at such London theatres as the Vaudeville, the New Theatre, the Comedy, the Aldwych and the Lyceum.
In 1915 Kenyon was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment and was on active service till Armistice in 1918. This tour of duty took him overseas, firstly to Gallipoli, and then considerable time was spent in Egypt. He returned to his country home in Surrey with an "Egyptian Donkey". Felly (named after the "fellah" = peasant) was a donkey/zebra cross. They had been bred specifically for donkey stamina and zebra speed, and were used for pulling ammunition tenders and light field guns. Felly survived into the late 1940's!
January 1919 it was back to the Stage for Kenyon appearing at the New Theatre, the Duke of York's, the Garrick, touring with his own company and producing shows. It was with the last, in conjunction with Alban Limpus, a well-respected impresario, that a play known as The Vortex came to the West End. The Vortex had been written, produced and starred Noel Coward (with a certain John Gielguid as an understudy, later to move into the title role) and this move, on Coward's own admission at the time of his 75 birthday celebrations in the British media, was his first "big break". The show opened in December 1924 and ran for a total of 224 West End performances. At the time of the opening Kenyon was playing in "Blue Peter' at the Prince's Theatre, again produced by himself in conjunction with Limpus. Before the run of The Vortex ended Kenyon & Limpus approached Coward for the rights to Hay Fever as a vehicle for Marie Tempest. She had previously turned the role down, but Kenyon was able to persuade her to re-consider and the play was produced at the Ambassadors, directed by Coward. Alongside this euphoric two years as a producer/manager Kenyon kept up West End appearances till his final professional part in "The Strugglers" In July 1926 at the Scala Theatre. For the rest of his life 'Theatre was a serious hobby but never again did he act on the professional stage.
Charles Kenyon, the second of five children, started with the advantages of wealth, handsome looks and a fine deeply toned voice. This was particularly suitable for "gentlemen" "ultra English" roles so prevalent at the time. He married in 1902, Helen Statter, whose father Thomas was senior agent for the Earl of Derby, and they had three sons. After returning from the Great War however, Kenyon drifted from his family and spent time in several affairs with prominent female socialite and stage personalities. He was not in step with the new style of living and morals, which was taking over the theatrical scene in both London and New York. He spent time at the Savage Club, which still has a serious literary/stage membership, and enjoyed recreations of foxhunting and tennis. He was always very well turned out on every occasion and was known as one of the best dressed men in London. First night dinners at The Caprice were standard fare and his transport included a yellow Buick which was unusual for the UK. He died in 1955 in Minehead; Somerset after celebrating his Golden Wedding. This was considered strange by some, as he had not actually lived with his wife for some 30 years, although they met, weekended and corresponded regularly.
24th November 2001
Ref; "Who was who in the Theatre"
"A Talent To Amuse" - Sheridan Morley.
Neil KENYON (McKinnon)
KENYON, Neil (McKinnon), Scotch [sic] character actor; b. Greenock, Renfrewshire.
Was engaged on the regular stage for ten years, in farce, drama, old comedy, etc.; played several stock seasons in the provinces ; made his first appearance in London, at the Shakespeare Theatre, Clapham, 1897, with Osmond Tearle's Shakespearean Company; his first pantomime engagement was at the Princess s Theatre, Glasgow, Christmas, 1901; made his first appearance on the London music-hall stage, at the London Pavilion 1904; he made a substantial success the following Christmas, at the Alexandra Theatre, Stoke Newington, in pantomime, and at Christmas, 1905, at the Princes Theatre, Manchester; has appeared at all the leading variety theatres in London, the provinces, Australia, South Africa, and the United States; appeared also at Drury Lane Theatre, Christmas 1907, in pantomime, Babes in the Wood ; appeared at the Apollo Theatre, Apr.. 1910, as Mirza Makh Ali Khan in The Islander ; at the Aldwych, May, 1912, played Angus Macpherson in Looking for Trouble ; at His Majesty s, Aberdeen, Sept., 1920. appeared as Hunky Dory in What Fools Men Are ; at the Everyman, Sept.. 1925, played Archie Sheepwell in The Limpet ; has since appeared only on the variety stage and in films; first appeared in New York, at the Colonial Theatre, 5 Jan., 1914 ; has introduced several successful songs and scenas to the public, among which are The Caddie, The Neer-dae-Weel., The Stationmaster of Dunrobin, The Stoker, etc. Address: 6 Park Avenue, N.W. 11. Telephone No. Speedwell 2566. (Died 1 June, 1946; age 73)
Kenyon, Doris, actress, b. Syracuse, New York, 5 Sep 1896; d. of James Benjamin Kenyon and his wife Margaret Jane (Taylor); e. Packer Collegiate Institute, Barnard College; m. (1) Milton Sills (dec.); (2)Arthur Hopkins; (3) Albert D. Lasker; made her first appearance on the stage at the Cort Theatre, New York, 29 Sept. 1915, as Coralie Bliss in "Princess Pat"; she then devoted herself to the cinema stage for three years ...."
The article mentions that she contributed verse to "various papers and magazines." It lists her recreations as riding and writing verse. It gives her address as 315 Saltair Avenue, Brentwood Heights, Los Angeles CA. She died in 1979.