H

Hudd Walter `Dicky'

Walter Hudd


Born on 20th February 1897 in London, Walter Hudd was one of the busier actors of his generation, across a 40-year career that carried him from touring the British provinces to work in international films.

 

He began his professional performing career in his teens with a debut in the play `The Manxman’ in 1919. He toured as a member of the Fred Terry Company, and made his London debut in the 1920s. First coming to serious critical attention with his portrayal of Guildenstern in a 1925 modern-dress production of Hamlet, he later became a theatrical star in the play `Too Good To Be True’, in the role of Private Meek, a character modelled after T.E. Lawrence.

 

During the period from the 1930s to the 1950s, at the least, he was a “keen” member of the Hampstead Communist Party.

 

Hudd moved into also directing for the stage during the 1930s and 1940s, including several Shakespearean plays presented at Stratford-on-Avon.

 

In movies, he was usually cast in supporting and character roles, initially as part of the stable of actors associated with Alexander Korda's London Films, in movies like `I Stand Condemned’ and `Rembrandt’.

 

In 1937, however, he got a rare chance to play a lead on-screen, as Petersen in Elephant Boy, an unusual documentary-drama best remembered today for having introduced the boy actor Sabu to the world.

 

Hudd devoted a great deal of effort to bringing theatrical entertainment to the factory workers and more remote villages of England during World War II, though he still managed to play roles in `Major Barbara’ and `I Know Where I'm Going’, among a handful of major movies.

 

After the war, his film parts multiplied, and he was very busy on the screen during the 1950s, in productions as different as `The Importance of Being Earnest’ and `Look Back in Anger’. He played every kind of character role from coroners (in `Cast a Dark Shadow’) to British admirals (in `Sink the Bismarck!’) and German intelligence chiefs (in `The Two-Headed Spy’).

 

Another actor, Peter Copley (see separate entry), who knew him well as a fellow Communist in this later period, described him as a “very, very good actor, very good light comedian, very distinguished, very cultured, delightful”. For some reason, Hudd was known to the circle that he and Copley were part of as `Dicky’.

 

Had he lived longer, Hudd would almost certainly have become a fixture of British television -- he had done one very, very early episode of `The Avengers’ -- but his death at the age of 65, cut short a promising Indian summer to his career.

 

Walter Hudd died on the 20th January 1963 in London.

 

Sources: Bruce Eder, `All Movie Guide’ et al