Larne Actors and Actresses
For a small town, Larne has certainly had its fair share of people who have made names for themselves in show business. Below are just some of the fine actors and actresses who have graced our stages and screens over the past century and more.
Whitford Kane (1881 - 1956) Born in Larne in 1881 and took to acting in his early twenties in Belfast but moved to London and then to New York in 1912. His Broadway career saw him act in some fifty six productions over fifty three years. He appeared in several movies including 'Mark Twain' in 1944 and 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir' in 1947 but he had a particular love for Shakespere and played 'The First Gravedigger' in no less than twenty three separate productions of Hamlet.
Richard Hayward (1892 - 1964). Born in Larne, Richard Hayward was a film actor, a writer and a musician and revelled in regional Ulster culture. He was a popular singer in the 1940s and '50s and worked in The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin and later helped to form the Belfast Repertory Theatre Company. He died in a road accident near Ballymena in 1964.
Valerie Hobson (1917 - 1998) played in several horror films in the 1940s and '50s including 'Bride of Frankenstein' with Boris Karlov and 'Werewolf of London', the first Hollywood werewolf film. She was later to appear in David Lean's film 'Great Expectations' and in 'The King and I' at Drury Lane before marrying MP John Profumo in 1954. She stuck by John Profumo throughout his Christine Keeler scandal in 1963 after which they both devoted their lives to charity.
Maxwell Reed (1919 - 1974) was a 1950s 'matinee idol'. In 1952, he became the first husband of Joan Collins but the marriage only lasted four years. His British films included 'The Dark Man', 'Blackout', 'Daybreak', 'The Clouded Yellow', 'There Is Another Sun' and 'The Brain Machine'. He moved to the USA in the late '50s where he appeared in popular television programs such as 'Bonanza', 'Perry Mason' and 'Daniel Boone'. He was only 55 when he died of cancer.
Harry Towb (1925 - 2009) was born in Larne to a Jewish Russian Father and Irish Mother but grew up in Belfast where he attended Finiston School and Technical College. Starting off his acting career with a touring Irish theatre company, he went on to act in repertory theatre in England and eventually, London's West End. He appeared in 'Above Us the Waves' in 1955 and in other films such as 'The Blue Max' (1966), 'Prudence and the Pill' (1968) and 'Patton' (1970). He frequently appeared in television series including 'The Avengers', 'Callan', 'The Bill', 'Minder', 'Doctor Who' and 'East Enders'.
Valerie Lilley (born 1939) has appeared in television series such as 'Doctors', 'Grange Hill' and, more recently, Channel 4's 'Shameless'. Her career started in London in the early '60s with Joan Littlewood's Art Workshop and ever since then, has worked steadily on stage and in television. Notable parts include 'Potato Head Blues', 'Billy Boy' and as a regular in ITV's 'Albion Market'.
Olivia Nash MBE was initially a member of Larne Drama Circle and was an actress and performer in Northern Ireland for over 40 years. She worked with James Young for eleven years and with comedienne Nuala McKeever. She has toured extensively in the USA and Canada with The Charabanc Theatre Company but is best known for her character 'Ma' in the BBC Series 'Give My Head Peace'. She was awarded an MBE in 2006 for her services to drama and charity work for The Children's Hospice.