Inspirational black actors from the world’s oldest film studio who starred in James Bond and went on to become the


A cohort of black actors who started their careers at Ealing Studios have become pioneers in their field.

These men were Britain’s best black actors at the time, founders of some of the first black theater companies, and appeared in iconic movies and TV shows such as James Bond and Doctor Who.

Ealing Studios is the oldest film production studio in the world, famous for a genre of film known as Ealing Comedy, but remains at the forefront of cinema today, with ITV’s The Durrell’s Death of Stalin and Darkest Hour among recent fabrications.

READ MORE: The stars of EastEnders and Doctors who appeared in the very first British dancehall film

Between the 1930s and the 1950s, several black actors held leading and supporting roles in films from Ealing Studios, which set them on the path to successful careers.

To mark Black History Month, MyLondon took a look at some of the most famous.

Robert adams

Robert Adams became Britain’s first black television actor when he appeared in Theater Parade: Scenes From Hassan on BBC TV in 1937

Robert Adams was born in British Guiana in 1902.

He first arrived in England in the 1920s and funded his education by working as a laborer and wrestling champion, known as the “black eagle”.

His first leading role was in Ealing’s 1935 film Midshipman Easy, where he got fourth place.

His character starts off as a humble servant, but goes on to save the day.

Robert appeared in another Ealing film, Proud Valley, in 1940 as an understudy for American Paul Robeson.

After that, Robert made a name for himself by becoming Britain’s first black television actor in Theater Parade: Scenes from Hassan in 1937 and the first black actor to play the Shakespearean role on television as Prince of Morocco. in The Merchant of Venice in 1947.

He continued to appear in television roles throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

In the late 1940s he also founded the Negro Repertory Arts Theater, one of Britain’s first professional black theater companies.

After a successful career, he returned to British Guiana and died in 1965.

Earl Cameron

Earl Cameron in Dr Who: Tenth Planet in 1966
Earl Cameron in Dr Who: Tenth Planet in 1966

Born in Bermuda in 1917, Earl Cameron first appeared onscreen in the 1951 Ealing Pool of London film, in a rare lead role for a black actor.

Earl and a white actress had the first known cinematic interracial romance in the film.

He had a very successful career until his death at the age of 102 last year.

Earl appeared as James Bond’s driver in the 1965 movie Thunderball and played one of the astronauts on a spaceship in Doctor Who: Tenth Planet.

Most recently, he starred alongside Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn in the 2005 film The Interpreter and had a small role in the 2010 film Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

He’s even appeared on Casualty and EastEnders.

In recognition of his dedicated career, Earl was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year’s Honors.

The actor had spoken of the challenges of being a black actor in the early years.

He said: “I wanted to play big roles in movies, but black movie actors in this country didn’t get any promotion.

“Our names weren’t on the movie posters. I lost count of the times we met Equity to try to prevent black Americans from being tricked into playing roles in British films like The L- Shaped Room, Heaven’s Above and The Hill.

“Roles that I and a lot of others could have played. It happened because the casting directors didn’t believe that we – the black British actors – could play. But, despite that, I worked hard. consistent throughout the 1950s and 1960s. “

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Edric Connor

Edric Connor as Daggoo in the movie 'Moby Dick', while filming at Youghal in County Cork, Ireland, July 26, 1954
Edric Connor as Daggoo in the movie ‘Moby Dick’, while filming at Youghal in County Cork, Ireland, July 26, 1954

Another pioneering black actor was Edric Connor, born in Trinidad in 1913.

One of his first roles was as a tribal leader in the 1950s film Ealing, West Zanzibar.

He then starred alongside Rita Hayworth in the 1957 film Fire Down Below and in 1958 he became the first black actor to perform for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, playing Gower in Pericles.

With his wife Pearl, he created the Edric Connor agency, which represented black actors, dancers, musicians and writers. In the last years of his life he also founded Negro Theater Workshop, one of the UK’s first black theater companies.

Along with his acting, Edric was a famous singer from the Caribbean.

He died in 1968.

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