Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Otto Peter Heggie

This post is in honour of an actor, one born in Angaston, who many South Australians would not have heard about, nor recognise. This man had a remarkable stage and screen career but alas is somewhat forgotten by his home state and his home town of Angaston in the Barossa Valley.
 The Anniversary of Mr Heggie's death is this week on Friday the 7th.

 Otto P. Heggie, was born in Angaston in 1870 and went on to star in a variety of theatrical works, but he is perhaps best known for his role as the blind hermit in the film “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).

Mr Heggie was educated in Adelaide at Whinham College and at the Adelaide Conservatorium of music. His first stage role was in 1899, with a small bit part in a version of “The Three Musketeers”
Eventually he went to England with Sir Charles Henry Hawtrey who was an English actor, director, producer and manager. Hawtry cast Heggie in “The Lemonade Boy” & “A Message to Mars”, and from those two productions a star was born.
His performance was strong enough in the Hawtry produced play that Dame Ellen Terry, the leading Shakespearean actor of her day, invited him to tour with her in the USA in two productions “ Nance Oldfield” and “Captain Brassbounds Conversion”, the tour of course was very successful.
Mr Heggie returned to England to continue his acting career, landing a part in the Queen Theatres production of Hornungs “Stingaree” - a production based on the bush in outback New South Wales.
Mr Heggies list of accomplishments in theatre continued to grow with his reputation, earning him parts in productions at The Haymarket, The Kingsway and Adelphi Theatres, all theatres of great standing in the early 1900's.
Perhaps Heggies best performance was that of Sherlock Holmes, at least the Author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who write the character thought so, writing in a letter (Which Heggie dearly treasure) that his performance of the character of Holmes gave him great pleasure, as it was the first time he had seen him played exactly as He, the Imaginative mind behind the birth of Sherlock Holmes, had wanted him played.

Heggie went on to star in many more theatre productions such as “The House of Temperley” “Lower Depths” , “The Admiral Speaks”, but in 1927, he moved from the theatre into the cinema, where he starred in 27 well received movies and became a bigger star than he could've dreamt of from his theatre work.
He starred in such movies as “The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu” (1929), “The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu” (1930), “The Count of Monte Christo” (1934), “Anne of Green Gables” (1934), the aforementioned “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) as well as his final movie in 1936, “The Prisoner of Shark Island” - in all, he played parts in 27 theatrical cinema releases (IMDB link -http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0373773/ )

Otto (Oliver) Peter Heggie was born on the 17 September 1877, Angaston, South Australia, Australia, and died on the 7th of February 1936 in Los Angeles California from pneumonia

Although known originally as a stage actor he will best be remembered for his role as the blind hermit alongside Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein, which, in a and odd homage to his acting ability, was parodied by Gene Hackman in comedian Mel Brooks' movie "Young Frankenstein" in 1974

Rest In Peace Mr Heggie, you are not forgotten.

.© 2013 Allen Tiller

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