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Burke, Alfred Biography




biography of Burke, Alfred

28 February 1918, Peckham, London, England, UK
16 February 2011, Barnes, London, England, UK (chest infection)
6' 1"


-   'Barbara Bonelle' (? - ?) (separated); 4 children


-   Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in his late 60s and continued on for nearly two decades.

-   Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art starting in 1937.

-   Became involved with the Arts Council Tours after WWII. He was invalided out of serving during the war.

-   He and Barbara Bonelle had two sets of twins: Jacob and Harriet, and Kelly and Louisa.

-   Gaunt, saturnine British character actor, best known on screen as seedy private detective Frank Marker in BBC's long-running series _"Public Eye" (1965)_ (qv).

-   Left his school in 1933 to work as an office boy for a company repairing railway carriages. Subsequently worked as a steward in a London businessmen's club, but had to move on after a dispute with a barmaid.

-   Made his professional stage debut in 1939 at the Barn Theatre in Shere, Surrey, in "The Universal Legacy".

-   During the Second World War, he registered as a conscientious objector and was put to work as a rural labourer.


-   (1994) He acted in David Hare's stage adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's play, "The Life of Gailileo," at the Almeida Theatre in London, England with Richard Griffiths and Michael Gough in the cast. Jonathan Kent was director.

-   (1965) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, London, England with Ann Morrish, Gary Raymond, Phyllida Law, Edward Atienza, John Justin, and Andrew Downie in the cast. Harold Lang was director. The crew included Peter Rice (designer) and Elisabeth Lutyens (music).

-   (1951-1952) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Henry Sixth Part III," at the Old Vic Theatre in London, England in a Birmingham Repertory Company production with Jack May, John Greenwood, and Paul Daneman in the cast. Douglas Seale was director.

-   (1986) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Jonathan Pryce, Sinead Cusack, Nicholas Woodeson, David Killick, Hugh Quarshie, David Troughton, and Penny Downie in the cast. Adrian Noble was director.

-   (1989) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican Theatre in London, England with John Wood, Duncan Bell, John Kane, Desmond Barrit, Melanie Thaw, Nicholas Selby, and James Purefoy in the cast. Nicholas Hytner was director.

-   (1991) He acted in Richard Nelson's play, "Two Shakespearean Actors," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at The Pit Theatre in London, England with Anton Lesser, John Carlisle, Paul Jesson, Mary Chater, Ciaran Hinds, and Yolanda Vazquez in the cast. Roger Mitchell was director.

-   (1991) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Troilus and Cressida," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at The Pit Theatre in London, England with Ralph Fiennes, Amanda Root, Norman Rodway, Paul Jesson, Richard Ridings, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Russell Beale, Sally Dexter, Griffith Jones, and David Troughton in the cast. Sam Mendes was director.

-   (1992) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Peter De Jersey, Samantha Bond, Michael Siberry, Alan Cox, Adrian Lukis, Phyllis Hancock, Anthony O'Donnell, Jonathan Cake, Jeffery Dench, David Burt, and John Bott in the cast. David Thacker was director.

-   (March 4-31, 1952) He acted in the title rôle in William Gillette's play, "Sherlock Holmes," in Birmingham, England in a Birmingham Repertory Company production with Paul Daneman, Josée Richard, Edgar Wreford, Basil Henson, Christine Finn, Michel Bazalgette, Rosalind Boxall, Alan Bridges, Alan Rowe, Anthony Newlands, John Greenwood, Jack May, Redmond Phillips, Alan Nunn, Anthony Finigan, Frederick Jaeger and William Avenell in the cast. Douglas Seale was director.

-   (1993) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican Theatre in London, England with Peter De Jersey, Kate Buffery, Adrian Lukis, Samantha Bond, Anthony O'Donnell, Jonathan Cake, Alan Cox, Jeffery Dench, Michael Siberry, David Burt, and John Bott in the cast. David Thacker was director.

-   (1995) He acted in Henrik Ibsen's play, "Peer Gynt," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Young Vic Theatre in London, England with Alex Jennings and Haydn Gwynne in the cast. John Barton was director.

-   (1998) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican Theatre in London, England with David Calder, Penny Layden, Scott Handy, Robert Glenister, Colin George, and Barry Stanton in the cast. Adrian Noble was director.

-   (2000) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Richard II," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at The Pit Theatre in London, England with Samuel West, David Troughton, Sam Cox, Paul Greenwood, David Killick, Janet Whiteside, and Catherine Walker in the cast. Steven Pimlott was director.

-   (1985) He acted in Anton Chekhov's play, "The Seagull," at the Queens Theatre in London, England with Vanessa Redgrave, Jonathan Pryce, Natasha Richardson, and John Lynch in the cast. Charles Sturridge was director.


-   I think nowadays you're more responsible for yourself as an actor. You are expected to take more responsibility for yourself and you do. And your own opinions for instance, nowadays would be much more important than they were in my time when your own opinion didn't count for much. You did what you were told or what was suggested to you. The sort of thing you did was imitate older actors actually.

-   What makes people a good director, it's a mystery. I mean, I did a lot of directing in my day, at Farnham, I've no idea what sort of director I was but these were people, they were good organizers, they were well read, cultured used to be the word, they knew what they were doing, they knew their history of the theatre.

-   In weekly rep of course you had to learn a new act every day, every night, after the show. You'd go home and you'd go to bed and start learning your lines for the following day so you'd rehearse an act a day and you had to learn all the lines for one act in one fell swoop. That really was hard work but somehow you know everybody did it. I don't think people would do it now.


-   (October 2008) Appearing at the National Theatre in London in 'Jonathan Kent' 's production of Oedipus. Burke, aged 90, is playing The Shepherd.


-   "The Times" (UK), 9 November 1972, by: Stanley Reynalds, "Public Eye"


-   "TV Times" (UK), 10 April 1965

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