David Henley as Pish-Tush in The Mikado

David Henley (1919, 1921-22)

[Born 25 Dec 1894, died Paddock Wood, Kent Jul 1986]

David Henley sang in the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company chorus from March to November 1919, and with the D'Oyly Carte "New" Opera Company from December 1921 to June 1922. While with the Repertory Company he sang the small role of Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard.

He was married to fellow D'Oyly Carte chorister Esme Major. Between D'Oyly Carte engagements, Henley and his wife traveled to South Africa with a "Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company" playing a repertoire of seven Gilbert & Sullivan operas. Henley served in the dual capacities of performer and assistant stage manager. The Company opened in Johannesburg in June 1920, with Henley as Pish-Tush in The Mikado. His other roles on the tour included Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore.

Henley later appeared in London as Detlef in The Student Prince (Piccadilly, 1929), as Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling in Frederica (Palace, 1930), and in the chorus of The Song of the Drum (Drury Lane, 1931). In 1930 he was one of the co-founders of British Actors' Equity, and later served as Equity's second general secretary.

He left Equity to become director in London of the American Myron Selznick Agency and, during World War II, managed the careers of such stars as Vivien Leigh and Robert Donat. Henley became casting director of the Rank Organization in 1945, where he created the "Rank charm school," grooming potential film stars for the screen. In 1949 he set up his own organization, City Share Trust, which enabled him to procure films for screening both in England and abroad.

Page modified January 27, 2004 © 2002-04 David Stone