I love a good biography and Ken Robichaux has posted a fantastic one about popular character actor C. Aubrey Smith over at The Picture Show Man. Smith's entire life and career are covered with a special emphasis right where he'd probably want it himself, his cricket playing career. I knew C. Aubrey Smith was a big fan of the game after reading Scott A. Nollen's biography of fellow Hollywood Cricket Club member Boris Karloff (Smith founded the club), but had no idea how extensive Smith's pre-Hollywood cricket career was--he even made the cover of a souvenir booklet issued when the English Cricket Team arrived in South Africa! That and other rare C. Aubrey Smith photos are shown throughout Ken Robichaux's masterful and lengthy biography of the man. Check it out on The Picture Show Man.
I loved C. Aubrey Smith in his larger than usual role in Beyond Tomorrow (1940), which I caught for the first time this past holiday season thanks to Turner Classic Movies, but my favorite Smith role by far is as Freddie Bartholomew's cranky grandfather in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936). Little Ceddie's mother, Dearest (Dolores Costello), has prepared the lad to think his grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt (Smith), is a prince of a man, despite the fact that he insists of breaking up the boy and his mother in order for Ceddie to qualify as his heir to fortune and title. We quickly learn that the old Earl is the most despised fellow in town, but Ceddie never sees it. Cranky C. Aubrey is immediately amused and quickly warmed by the boy's high opinon of him and soon he begins projecting a friendlier demeanor to everyone around him. C. Aubrey Smith gives a wonderful performance as the Earl--if Freddie's Ceddie is a bit hard for you to take in the opening scenes, please try your best to at least get to England and watch him interact with Smith's Earl, they're really great together!
C. Aubrey Smith Biography:
Above: C. Aubrey Smith with Norma Shearer in Romeo and Juliet (1936)