Herbert Beerbohm Tree

Picture Herbert Beerbohm Tree

1853 - 1917

The actor and manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree was the son of a German businessman and belonged to the most important figures of the late Victorian and early Edwardian period. His extravagant staged plays exerted a kind of example of the later cinema.
He began his acting career in 1876 on England's stages and was especially convincing as Falstaff."

From 1885 he directed the Haymarket theater, twelve years later he was responsible for "His Majesty's Theatre". He often impersonated leading roles in the plays he produced and he became one of the most important theater personalities of England.

One of his great success was the première of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion" in 1914, in which he played the role of Prof. Higgins.

Because of Herbert Beerbohm Tree's love to the visuality it doesn't astonish that he already got in contact with the new medium film while his colleagues still turned up there noses at the arising film business.
His first cinematical work came already in 1899 into being with his production "King John" where he also impersonated the leading role.

It is true the film business kept a sideline in the next years but there followed other movies in which he appeared as an actor, among them "Henry VIII" (11) and "Trilby" (14).

When he stood in the USA in 1916, D.W. Griffith produced the movie "Macbeth" (16) with Beerbohm Tree in the leading, afterwards he took over an extra role in Griffith's "Intolerance" (16). His last movie was "The Odd Folks at Home" (16).

Besides his activity as an actor Herbert Beerbohm Tree also founded the "Royal Academy of Dramatic Art" in 1904.
In 1909 he was knighted because of his merit for the British theater.

Herbert Beerbohm Tree was married with the actress Maud Tree from 1882. His daughter Viola Tree became also an actress and his daughter Iris Tree attained recognition as a poet.

Fidelity wasn't the strong point in Herbert Beerbohm Tree's life. He fathered seven illegitimate children, among them the later famous direct Carol Reed und Peter Reed, whose son became the famous actor Oliver Reed.