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Obituary: Glyn Houston – ‘award-winning supporting actor with natural authority’

Glyn Houston

When Glyn Houston’s ambition to become a comedian failed to materialise, his elder brother Donald, then a rising film star, helped secure him a job in stage management in 1949 with Guildford Rep.

There he quickly graduated to acting, making his West End debut in Michael Clayton Hutton’s The Happy Family at the Duchess Theatre in 1951. He returned to Theatreland often. Notable appearances included Harold Pinter’s A Night Out (Comedy Theatre, 1961), John Chapman and Dave Freeman’s Key for Two (Vaudeville Theatre, 1982) and Cyril Ornadel and Leslie Bricusse’s musical Pickwick (Sadler’s Wells, 1993).

There were regional appearances too, as Ludovico in Luigi Pirandello’s Naked (Leicester Haymarket, 1967), Sam Grundy in the musical version of Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole (Nottingham Playhouse, 1970) and Noel Coward’s South Sea Bubble (Connaught, Worthing, 1985).

In his native Wales, Houston was seen with the Welsh Theatre Company in John Hopkins’ This Story of Yours (1969), with Theatre Wales as Vershinin (The Three Sisters, 1981) and Joe (Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, 1983) and at Theatr Clwyd as the Mayor in Gogol’s The Government Inspector (1993).

On screen, he proved a solid supporting actor amassing more than 200 credits, his natural authority leading to a long line of appearances in uniform in Z-Cars, The Saint, Dixon of Dock Green and Softly, Softly.

Glyn Houston with Roger Moore in The Saint in 1966
Glyn Houston with Roger Moore in The Saint in 1966

His versatility was marked by early success as Davy Morgan in Richard Llewellyn’s Welsh classic How Green Was My Valley (1960) and underlined by roles as diverse as Bunter, valet to Ian Carmichael’s Lord Peter Wimsey (1972-75), a literary agent in the sitcom Keep It in the Family (1980-83) and as a widowed former miner in Robert Pugh’s Better Days (1988), for which he received a Monte Carlo international television festival award.

More recent television appearances included press secretary Bernard Ingham to Sylvia Syms’ deposed prime minister in Thatcher: The Final Days (1991), Grewgious in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993) and Alan Osborne’s The Beach Inspector (1996). He received a BAFTA Cymru lifetime achievement award in 2008 and published an autobiography, A Black and White Actor,
in 2009.

Glyn Houston was born Glyndwr Desmond Houston in Tonypandy, Glamorgan on October 23, 1925 and died on June 30, aged 93. He was married to the actor Shirley Lawrence for 50 years until her death in 2016 and is survived by two daughters.

Obituary: Bryan Marshall – ‘Permanent presence on British TV screens for more than 40 years’

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