C. Aubrey Smith: The C Stood for “Cricket”

What a delight it was, and not a shock, to learn that quintessential English character actor C. Aubrey Smith (1863-1948), who appeared in such films as Rebecca (1940), Waterloo Bridge (1940), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) and And Then Were None (1945), began his professional life as a cricket player.

The son of a doctor, Smith started out playing for the Cambridge team while a student. Afterwards he played for Sussex  on and off through 1896. In 1889 he moved to South Africa to prospect for gold, and captained the Johannesburg team while there.

Smith began acting on the stage (both in London and New York) in 1895, and started appearing in films in 1915. His permanent move to Hollywood came with the arrival of talkies. Other classics he appeared in included Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Queen Christina (1933), The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Clive of India (1935), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), Rome and Juliet (1936), Wee Willie Winkie (1937), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), The Hurricane (1937), Kidnapped (1938), The Four Feathers (1939), Five Came Back (1939), Maisie Was a Lady (1941), Madame Curie (1943), An Ideal Husband (1949), and Little Women (1949).

Smith was a leader among the British expat community in Hollywood. In 1932 he founded the Hollywood Cricket Club. Oh — and the “C” actually stood for “Charles.”