Do people still send postcards these days…?
Oscar Asche (1871-1936)
Recently I watched the Twickenham Films version of Scrooge, from 1935, and by happy coincidence, the day before I had made a bid on this postcard on Ebay. The link? Oscar Asche played the rotund Ghost of Christmas Present. It was a sign surely?
Oscar Asche was one of those great actor-managers of the late 1800s and early 1900s who brought gargantuan entertainments to the masses. Born in Geelong, Australia in 1871 he made his name in large scale musical comedies, the greatest of which was his very own Chu Chin Chow which was one the longest running shows in London. But he also staged Shakespeare and the classics, and it was in a production of Richard II in the late 1890s that he met his future wife, Lily Brayton, an actress from Lancashire.
It seems he wasn’t especially workshy, with production after production throughout the 1890s, 1900s and into the First World War. He appeared in almost 2000 performances of Chu Chi Chow alone, and he wasn’t a man light on his feet either. His portly frame toured Australia, South Africa and the provinces. When he wasn’t on stage he was directing and writing, and at one time he was co-manager of both the Adelphi and Her Majesty’s theatres in London.
In 1911 Edward Knoblock wrote the play Kismet for Asche, and he played the lead role of Hajj on productions in London and overseas. He also made his cinema debut in the silent film version.
After the mid 1920s he slowed down. He was a gambler and was declared bankrupt in 1926 but he continued to work and returned to the screen in the 1930s for a series of films, in character roles. He died in 1936, aged 65.
Films, as actor unless otherwise noted: Kismet (1914), Chu Chin Chow (1923 writer only), Adventures of Don Quixote (1933), My Lucky Star (1933), Chu Chin Chow (1934, writer only), Two Hearts in Waltz Time (1934), The Private Secretary (1935), Scrooge (1935), Eliza Comes To Stay (1936), The Robber Symphony (1937)