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Tom Walls

Tom Kirby Walls (18 February 1883 - 27 November 1949) was a popular English stage and motion-pictures character actor, and film director. He has claim to be one of the most influential figures in British comedy.


Early career

A native of Northampton, Walls was the son of a plumber. After leaving school, he spent a year in Canada and joined the police on his return. After these false starts, he settled on a stage career in 1905. Over the next few years he worked steadily, appearing in the West End as well as touring Britain, Australia and North America. By 1912 he was firmly established as a West End star.

By the 1920s, Walls established a long association with London's Aldwych Theatre, where he produced, directed and starred in a string of popular farces written by Ben Travers, and featuring an ensemble cast including Ralph Lynn, Robertson Hare and Yvonne Arnaud. Walls functioned as both star and director in the first Aldwych-produced farce transferred to the cinema; box-office success Rookery Nook. In 1922, together with Leslie Henson, Walls co-produced and starred in the farce Tons of Money at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Their next project was It Pays to Advertise. They moved to the Aldwych Theatre for this one and thus inaugurated the Aldwych Farce series of comedies. With its regular team of Henson, Walls, Mary Brough, Ralph Lynn, Robertson Hare, Yvonne Arnaud, Winifred Shotter and others, and its usual writer Ben Travers, the series developed a strain of British comedy which featured silly-asses, henpecked husbands, battleaxe mothers-in-law and lots of innocent misunderstandings.

Later career

When the talkies arrived, Walls moved his focus away from the theatre and to the movies. He made an early foray into the silver screen in 1924 in the film version of Tons of Money, though he didn't reprise his role. He directed seventeen films between 1930 and 1938, acting in most of them. He directed his last film towards the end of the 1930s, Old Iron.

Walls continued to act in both comedies and dramas until his death, often appearing as a character actor in other directors' films. In 1943, he appeared in Undercover, as the father of a guerrilla leader in Yugoslavia. Walls' final film was 1949's The Interrupted Journey.


Walls also established a horseracing stable at Epsom, where he trained his own horse, April the Fifth to win the 1932 Epsom Derby [1].

Selected filmography


  • Rookery Nook (1930)
  • On Approval (1930)
  • Canaries Sometimes Sing (1930)
  • Plunder (1931)
  • A Night Like This (1932)
  • Thark (1932)
  • Leap Year (1932)
  • The Blarney Stone (1933)
  • Leave It to Smith (1933)
  • A Cup of Kindness (1934)
  • Foreign Affaires (1935)
  • Pot Luck (1936)
  • Dishonour Bright (1936)
  • Master of Bankdam (1947)
  • Spring in Park Lane (1948)
  • Maytime in Mayfair (1949)
  • The Interrupted Journey (1949)


  • Leap Year (1932)
  • Dirty Work (1934)


External links


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