What is it about the Alleyn Park area that has made it such fertile ground for actors and actresses? During the selection of the design for the Edward Alleyn statue, Prunella Scales mentioned that she attended the Old Vic Theatre school in the early 1950's which was then occupying the present Rosemead School premises in Thurlow Park Road and had 'digs' in Alleyn Park. She must therefore have been a near neighbour of Julian Glover who told us at the statue unveiling that as a schoolboy he lived in Alleyn Park and when he went to Alleyn's he was launched on his career by one of its teachers - the inspirational Michael Croft.
Were either aware that the film star Rosamund John (1913-98) also lived in Alleyn Park with her husband, the politician John Silkin? Although she got her first notice for the 1934 film "The Secret of the Loch" it was in the 1940's that she dominated the screen with "Johnny in the Clouds", "Spitfire" (1942) "Green for Danger" (1946) and "The Way to the Stars" (1944) in which she starred as Michael Redgrave's wife in that patriotic and popular film. In the 1950's she largely abandoned her acting to involve herself in supporting her husband's political career and her last film was "Operation Murder" in 1957.
Curiously yet another famous actor was also a resident of Alleyn Park at this time - David Farrar (1908 -95 ). Born in Forest Gate, Essex he was originally a journalist before taking to the stage. After spending some time in repertory he became actor-manager of his own company in 1930. In the same year he took over the lead in The Wandering Jew in the West End, bringing notices that immediately established him as one of most promising young leading men in the West End. He took over Grafton's Theatre in Tottenham Court Road for a series of plays.
He says he was 'lured' into films in 1937 and made his screen debut in "The Face behind the Scar". During his sojourn in Dulwich, Farrar's theatre was bombed and he was called up by the Ministry of War and put to work making propaganda films. He was responsible for the feature "For those in peril" (1944), much of which was shot during actual manoeuvres in the English Channel. Handsome and authoritative, Farrar flourished as a dashing romantic lead in the 1940's. He moved effortlessly from "B" picture intrigues such as the character Sexton Blake to the more prestigious environs of "Black Narcissus" (1946) and "The Wild Heart" (1950).His other memorable films were "The Small Back Room" (1949) and "Gone to Earth" (1950).
From 1951-59 Farrar commuted between London and Hollywood. He was generally cast as a sardonic villain, a rare exception being his anguished portrait of Alfred Dreyfus' s justice-seeking brother in "I Accuse" (1958). He retired from acting in the early 1960's and following the death of his wife, the actress Irene Elliot in 1976, resettled in South Africa to be near their daughter. In 1948 he published his autobiography No Royal Road