Few now know his name, but George Relph’s career spanned over half a century and among his many stage appearances, twenty of them were in Shakespeare’s plays in some of the best theaters in London and Australia. His first role as a professional was a minor one in Othello; his first London appearance in 1909 was at the Lyceum as Marcellus in Hamlet.
That same year he joined Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton on their Australian tour and there he played Lucentio (The Taming of the Shrew), Orlando, and Bassanio, as well as other Shakespeare roles. When he returned to London he played Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Garrick Theatre in 1911. In the 1914-15 season he performed in five Shakespeare plays and capped the season with a performance of Romeo.
He was shot in the leg while serving during World War I and did not return to the stage until 1918; not until seven years later in 1925 did he again appear in a Shakespearean role; but what a role! He played Horatio in John Barrymore’s celebrated production of Hamlet in 1925. Much later in his career he took the parts of older men; for instance, he played the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear in 1946-7, but other than that he played a few minor roles in Henry IV, parts 1 and 2.
He played in twelve films in his career, beginning in 1916. His last part in a film again showed his luck in finding roles; he played Tiberius in the 1959 blockbuster, Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston. Five months later, he died.