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John, Errol (1924-1988)


Main image of John, Errol (1924-1988)

Born in Trinidad in 1924, Errol John began a career as an artist and journalist after leaving school. However, he soon followed his dream to act, joining the Whitehall Players theatre group.

After the war, John came to Britain and found work in the theatre. This was soon followed by numerous small appearances in television and film, including The Heart of the Matter (George More O'Ferrall, 1953), The Emperor Jones (BBC, 1953) and Simba (d. Brian Desmond Hurst, 1955).

In 1955, John landed the star role in the BBC's A Man from the Sun (1956), which was followed by larger roles in No Hiding Place (BBC, 1961) and Rainbow City (BBC, 1967), a five-part series written for him by John Elliot.

Today, John is equally known for his success as a writer. His seminal play, Moon on A Rainbow Shawl won the Observer Play of the Year in 1953 and is still performed around the country. In 1969 he wrote The Exiles for the BBC's Wednesday Play strand.

John's attempt at breaking into the US film industry proved unsuccessful. Despite featuring in films with Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte - Assault on a Queen (US, 1966) and Sidney Poitier's Buck and the Preacher (US, 1971), respectively - he was confined to small parts.

Errol John died on 10 July 1988 in Camden, North London.

Seb Whyte

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Simba (1955)Simba (1955)

Love story set amidst the Mau Mau's uprisings in Kenya

Thumbnail image of Man From The Sun, A (1956)Man From The Sun, A (1956)

Dramatised documentary about a West Indian immigrant in London

Thumbnail image of Man in a Suitcase (1967-68)Man in a Suitcase (1967-68)

Memorably gritty ITC series about an ex-CIA private investigator

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