Born Belfast 1873
Died Los Angeles 13th January 1927
Versatile second tier silent film actor, whose stage career is largely unrecorded, although he did make it to Broadway, appearing in a revival of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton’s historical drama ‘Richelieu’ at Daly’s Theatre in April 1911.
He began his screen career in director Will S. Davis’ three reel drama ‘The Governor’s Ghost’ in 1914, made by Ramo Films Inc. in Fort Lee, New Jersey, then the hub of America’s motion picture industry. He followed this with a co-starring role the same year, as Jim Jepson, in the crime drama ‘The Criminal Path’, another Davis film and again a Ramo Production. Now a Will S. Davis regular, he was given a leading role as Hugo Grandpre in the war epic, ‘Thw War of Wars: Or the Franco –German Invasion’ 1914, an adaptation of Paul M. Potter’s 1898 play ‘The Conquerors’.
In 1915 he moved to the Shubert Film Corporation, also based in Fort Lee and was cast as a burglar in ‘The Gray Mask’, directed by Frank Hall Crane and starring avowed stage player Edwin Arden.
He changed production company again in 1916, joining Rolfe Photoplays Inc. and was given a low-key role, credited as Cabman, in Swedish émigré director O.A.C.Lund’s ‘The Price of Malice’ and later that same year in his first collaboration with director George D. Baker, he was again at the lower end of the cast list in the three reeler ‘The Pretenders’.
He worked with Baker on three further films, the best of which was the 1917 drama ‘The End of the Tour’, starring Lionel Barrymore, who had been prolifically active on screen since his 1908 debut in ‘The Paris Hat’. He was then recruited by the director John W.Noble for two pictures in 1917, ‘The Power of Decision’ and the much bigger budgeted ‘The Call of Her People’, which featured another member of the Barrymore dynasty, sister Ethel.
His busiest period, 1918, which ironically was to prove his penultimate year as a film actor, saw him reunited with Will S.Davis in two Metro Picture Company productions, playing valet and jewel thief, Rogers in the comedy mystery ‘Under Suspicion’. The cast included silent screen titans and husband and wife, Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne and with the same leading personnel was cast as Blake in the comedy drama ‘The Brass Check’.
His last hurrah on screen was in an also –starring role as Max, in director Ralph Ince’s anti- communist melodrama ‘Virtuous Men’, an S-L Pictures release in 1919, which starred C.K. Lincoln and Grace Darling, two others still relatively young, whose film careers ended before the advent of sound.
Following his five year film excursion, he retired from acting and began a new career as a casting director and business manager. Tragically, just months before ‘The Jazz Singer’ heralded the arrival of talking films, he died in his sleep, overcome by carbon monoxide gas. Hugh Jeffrey in retrospect made what he could from his adequate ability, at least on screen and any general appraisal would be unfair in the absence of detailed stage credits.
Other Film credits:
-His Father’s Son(1917)
-The Shell Game(1918)
-With Neatness and Dispatch(1918)
-Out of the Fog(1919)
Born Belfast 29th August 1951
Enterprising and largely indigenous writer/actor, who had an irregular apprenticeship in theatre, making her professional debut, hitherto untested, in James Young’s rib-tickling ‘Little Boxes’, at the Group Theatre, Belfast in 1968.
In 1973 she took a tentative step into legitimate theatre, joining the Lyric Drama Studio in Belfast and in the mid-seventies was a member of the celebrated amateur company, the Clarence Players.
In 1977 she combined with Derry born writer Andy Hinds, actor Julia Dearden and others to form Playzone Theatre Group, producing pertinent works within the context of a divided Belfast.
During the early eighties and still no closer to a breakthrough, she found herself as a fringe player with the Ulster Actors Company, then ensconced in the Arts Theatre, Belfast. Typical of the work on offer was her assemblage credit in the 1981 Roy Heayberd directed musical, ‘The Rockin 50’s’, in a cast featuring newcomer B.J. Hogg and a strident Peter Quigley. A few months later director Brian McAvera cast her alongside future husband Ian McElhinney in Thomas McLaughlin’s one-act social comedy ‘Let’s All Go Down the Strand’, produced by the short-lived New Writers Theatre Group and staged at the Q.U.B. Drama Studio, Belfast in April 1982.
1983 proved pivotal in her career, when Charabanc Theatre Company, a community inspired, predominantly womens collective, comprised of Eleanor Methven, Carol Scanlon(Moore), Brenda Winter and herself, saw their inaugural play ‘Lay Up Your Ends’ open for one night only at the Arts Theatre. The broadly factual piece, written by Martin Lynch, with input from Jones and directed by Pam Brighton, was set in a Belfast linen mill in 1911, against a backdrop of strikes and routine male repression. Jones played fiery activist Belle Thompson, with the rest of the Charabanc ensemble taking other central roles. The production subsequently embarked on a successful Irish tour and gave the fledgling company instant exposure.
The follow-up play in 1984, ‘Oul Delf and False Teeth’, again at the Arts and written by Jones, was another social drama updated to 1949 Belfast, amidst the Stormont elections, in which she delivered a pinpoint portrayal of market stallholder Bridie McAllister, in a cast which included an emerging Brid Brennan.
The company was back at the Arts in 1985, with Jones’ trenchant ‘Now You’re Talkin’ and her in a leading role as the jaundiced Veronica, ably supported by Eleanor Methven and Carol Scanlon(Moore) et al. Following her generational, societal piece ‘Gold in the Streets’, at the markedly accommodating Arts Theatre in January 1986 and her perceptive study as war widow Mary, Charabanc broke with tradition and brought Jones’ bittersweet ‘The Girls in the Big Picture’ to the Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen later that year, with the majority of the cast filling dual roles.
1986 also saw her big screen debut, with a peripheral role in writer/director Bill Miskelly’s micro budget, West Belfast family drama ‘The End of the World Man’, starring John Hewitt, with James Nesbitt briefly glimpsed as a policeman. Charabanc’s 1987 presentation was unmistakably trademarked Jones, opening at the Drill Hall, London, the darkly comic ‘Somewhere Over the Balcony’ was a rapid fire three hander with the usual suspects, directed by Peter Sheridan, which transferred soon after to their spiritual home, the Arts Theatre.
Her penultimate year with Charabanc saw the three protagonists once more, this time in her original one-act quasi comedy, ‘Weddins, Weeins and Wakes’ and as the title suggests, another localized portrait which premiered at the Shankill Festival in 1989.
Towards the end of her Charabanc period, she began writing for Replay, a Belfast based theatre-in-education company, whose opening play ‘Under Napoleon’s Nose’, was staged at the Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch in October 1988. A further five plays followed with her final contribution, ‘Your’s Truly’ performed in 1993.
In 1990 Jones resigned from Charabanc after seven fruitful years, but not before submitting two diverse pieces for production. They were the affecting drama ‘The Hamster Wheel’, staged at the Arts Theatre, with Carol Scanlon (Moore) convincing as central character Jeanette Duncan and a one-act experimental project, ‘The Blind Fiddler of Glenadauch’, which was appraised at the West Belfast Festival and would revive as the finished article many years later in 2004.
A second partnership began in 1991, when together with Pam Brighton and Dublin actor Mark Lambert, she formed the West Belfast based DubbelJoint Theatre Company, it’s raison d’etre not too dissimilar from that espoused by Charabanc. The introductory production, ‘Hang All the Harpers’, co-written by Jones and Shane Connaughton and directed by Brighton, opened at the Ardhowen, Enniskillen in September 1991, with a cast including Ian McElhinney, Sean Campion and herself.
On screen between 1992 and 1995 she made several low-key appearances, all with local interest, with little or no significance, bar her imposing turn as Sarah Conlon in writer/director Jim Sheridan’s Oscar nominated ‘In the Name of the Father’ in 1993.
Her second play for DubbelJoint was an adaptation of Gogol’s satirical comedy, ‘The Government Inspector’, set in late 19th century rural Ulster, it was staged at the Rock Theatre as part of the 1993 West Belfast Festival and later undertook an extensive Irish tour, finishing at the Tricycle Theatre, London in March 1994.
At the Rock Theatre in 1995, DubbelJoint produced her wistful comedy ‘Women on the Verge of HRT’, with Jones ideal as the disaffected Vera, opposite Eileen Pollock as the unassertive Anna. At the same venue and festival a year later she unveiled what proved to be her magnum opus, the frenetic and complex comedy two-hander, ‘Stones in His Pockets’, directed by Pam Brighton, the production was amplified by inspired performances from Conleth Hill and Tim Murphy. A modest success at the time, the play underwent further re-writes, was revived and staged at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in late Spring 1999. It’s travels from then included decent runs in the West End and on Broadway, with a myriad of revivals internationally and an Olivier Award in 2001.
Acting work from 2000 was confined predominantly to the screen and consisted of fringe cameos and bit-parts. Projects of note included writer John Lynch’s ‘Best’ in 2000, gothic IFTA winner ‘Middletown’, 2006, directed by Darragh Carville, Richard Attenborough’s romantic drama ‘Closing the Ring’, 2007 and Stephen Frears’ BAFTA Award winning biopic ‘Philomena’ in 2013.
A rare stage appearance in 2011 brought her back to the Lyric for the 30th anniversary revival of Martin Lynch’s ‘Dockers’, with a stock role as obliging moneylender Sarah Montague, directed by Andrew Flynn it also featured Glen Wallace as the steadfast activist John Graham. An unremitting storyteller, Marie Jones has drawn immoderately on her Belfast roots for the greater part of her career and as an actor on both stage and screen has given voice to a legion of homespun character types.
Other Theatre, Film and Television credits (Actor)
-Crack Up(1983) Group Theatre, Belfast
-Whole Lotta Soul(2012)
-The Daily Woman(1986)
-Naming the Names(1987)
-You Me and Marley(1992)
-Love Lies Bleeding(1993)
-All Things Bright and Beautiful(1994)
-Life After Life(1995)