Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Denis Plimmer (1914-1981)-Part One

Author, Poet, Actor, Playwright, Newspaperman, Travel Writer, Radio Commentator, Political Campaign Worker
Born September 27, 1914, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died September 1981, Westminster, Middlesex, England

Blue of eye and fair of skin, Denis Harcus Plimmer was born on September 27, 1914, in Melbourne, Australia, to two actors, Harry John Plimmer (1867-1947) and Josephine "Ena" Shanahan Plimmer (1892-1940). Before getting to Denis Plimmer, the son and author, I'll write about Harry Plimmer, the father and actor.

Born in 1867 in Wellington, New Zealand, John Henry "Harry" Plimmer was a stage and screen actor who did a lot of traveling, including in troupes across early twentieth-century America. I might as well list his known acting credits because nobody else has done it to completion, or at least close to completion. There are links embedded in each heading, so be on the lookout for those.

  • The Trumpet Call (1892)
  • Harry Rickards' New Tivoli Minstrels (1894)
  • The Sign of the Cross (1898-1899)
  • The King's Musketeer (1899)
  • Elizabeth, Queen of England (1900)
  • Fedora (1900)
  • La Tosca (1900)
  • Ingomar, the Barbarian (1900)
  • Sherlock Holmes (1902)
  • Monsieur Beaucaire (1904)
  • Inconstant George (1911)
  • A Woman of No Importance (1912)
  • The Monk and the Woman (1917)
  • The Monk and the Woman (1917)
The Monk and the Woman might sound familiar to fans of Ambrose Bierce, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the same as Bierce's tale The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter (1892). The Monk and the Woman is considered a lost film.

Harry Plimmer (1867-1947), Australia's First Sherlock Holmes. Plimmer played Holmes in Perth and Adelaide in 1902 in a production by J.C. Williamson.

  • The Off Chance (1918) with Ethel Barrymore
  • Déclassée (1919-1920)
  • The Blue Lagoon (1921)
  • The Laughing Lady (1923)
  • Antonia (1925)
  • Shall We Join the Ladies (1925)
  • Pickwick (1927)
  • The Kingdom of God (1928-1929)
  • Topaze (1930)
  • The School for Scandal (1931) with Ethel Barrymore and Arthur Treacher
  • Firebird (1932)
  • Victoria Regina (1935-1936, 1936-1937, 1938) with Helen Hayes
  • Billy Draws a Horse (1939)
Harry Plimmer (center) on the cover of Theatre Arts Magazine, September 1950, with Charles Francis and Ethel Barrymore. Plimmer acted in Ethel Barrymore's company for ten years, beginning in 1918. 

Harry Plimmer crossed an ocean to the United States at least once, in 1891, before arriving for good (I think for good) in January 1918, debarking in San Francisco from Sydney, Australia, from on board the
Ventura. He had with him his young wife and their only child, the future writer Denis Plimmer, aged three years and a few months.

The Plimmer family lived in New York City in 1920, 1930, and 1940 when the enumerator of the census came around. Denis Plimmer made his declaration of intention to become a citizen on January 9, 1941, at age twenty-six and was naturalized in 1949. As of that date in 1941, he had four years of college, possibly at Columbia University. On January 31, 1941, the same month in which he declared his intention, he married Margaret Eva Partello (1920-?) in New York City. Maybe one thing was necessary for the other.

Denis Plimmer enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1943, also in New York City. He was at Camp Rucker, Arkansas, from August to September 1943 before being discharged for strabismus. (That means he was crosseyed.) Plimmer went back and forth between the United States and England in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I believe he was in England pretty much after 1947 or 1948 and until his death in 1981. His father, Harry John Plimmer, retired from acting in 1946 and died in Paddington, London, in late 1947. He was around eighty years old.

In July 1950, Denis Plimmer married again. His second wife was Charlotte (Fingerhut) Straus (1916-1991). Like him, she was a writer, and the two spent the rest of their time together collaborating on fiction and non-fiction, as well as on scripts for radio and television. Their credits will have to wait until the next part of this series. There are some interesting items in the list and some things fantasy fans will want to know about.

To be continued . . .

Text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

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