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Obituary: John Hart Dyke – ‘busy actor in regional theatre’

John Hart Dyke. Photo: Lisa Bowerman John Hart Dyke. Photo: Lisa Bowerman

Regarding himself as a “jobbing actor”, John Hart Dyke was seldom out of work in a long career in which he forged substantial partnerships with regional theatres in Perth, Cheltenham and Westcliff-on-Sea, the director Leslie Lawton and producer and writer Ray Cooney. He also made several appearances in the West End.

Born in Hampton Wick, he made the transition from amateur dramatics into professional work with a gift of £33 – repayable “when you’re successful” – from an early admirer. He spent much of the 1950s in Perth, before joining Peter Haddon’s Wimbledon Rep
in 1957.

Hart Dyke made his West End debut the following year in Jean Giraudoux’s Duel of Angels alongside Vivien Leigh and Claire Bloom and directed by Jean-Louis Barrault at the Apollo Theatre.

A regular member of the Repertory Players, he was seen in a number of one-night performances at the Apollo, Strand, Royalty and Duchess theatres.

Later West End appearances included Alec Guinness’ revival of TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party (Wyndham’s Theatre, 1968), Bruce Forsyth’s straight-acting debut, Peter Yeldham’s Birds on the Wing (Piccadilly Theatre, 1969) and Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit with Beryl Reid playing Madame Arcati – the last production directed by the playwright (Globe Theatre, 1970). Hart Dyke appeared with Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman in Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife (Albery Theatre, 1973), as well as in Michael Pertwee and Brian Rix’s A Bit Between the Teeth (Cambridge Theatre, 1975) and Michael Cooney’s Cash on Demand (Whitehall Theatre, 1996).

Hart Dyke was seen at Chichester Festival Theatre in Peter Ustinov’s The Unknown Soldier and His Wife and Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth in 1968.

An active member of Equity, he wrote a report on the parlous state of West End dressing rooms for the union in 1970.

John Hart Dyke was born on November 10, 1929 and died on February 2, aged 88.

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