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Arthur Wellesley French

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Information about Arthur Wellesley French

Profile image of Arthur Wellesley French

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Stage Actor
Film Actor
Stage Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pastas, Veal
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Los Angeles, California
Favorite Quote:
Try To Keep Moving Forward.

Birthplace

Born:
11/6/1949
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Stage Actor
Film Actor
Stage Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pastas, Veal
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Los Angeles, California
Favorite Quote:
Try To Keep Moving Forward.

Birthplace

Born:
11/6/1949
Birth Location:
New York
See how Arthur Wellesley French is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

A director and actor who has appeared regularly on and off Broadway and in movies and television for more than forty years, Arthur Wellesley French, Jr. was born in New York City to Arthur Wellesley French and Ursilla Idonia Ollivierre. Educated at Brooklyn College, French worked for the New York City Department of Social Services before he began studying the Strasberg technique with Peggy Feury and acting in community theatre. He also studied with Maxwell Glanville, the founder of the Dramatic Workshop, as well as performing street plays in Harlem for Amiri Baraka's Black Arts Repertory Theater. A role in an off-Broadway satirical play, Raisin' Hell in the Son at the Provincetown Playhouse, launched his career as a professional actor.

In 1965, French appeared in Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence, out of which the Negro Ensemble Company evolved in 1967, producing professional theatre using Black artists, performers, writers, directors, actors, and craftspeople. During his career, French has performed in plays by Lonne Elder III, Ron Milner and August Wilson; a list which, including Ward, encompasses many contemporary African American playwrights. While French’s broad body of work in theatre includes acting in everything from Death of a Salesman with George C. Scott and Shakespeare’s King Lear to Melvin van Peebles' Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, he has also appeared in films including Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Car Wash, Round Midnight, Kinsey, and on television programs such as Law and Order, as well as in commercials. He has directed, among others, the South African playwright Lungelo Mvusi's Just Won't; Marjorie Elliott's Branches from the Same Tree; Clifford Mason's Two Bourgeois Blacks; George Bernard Shaw's The Village Wooing; Steve Carter's One Last Look; Rudy Gray's Chameleon; Estelle Ritchie's Love You to Pieces and Wole Soyinka's Strong Breed for which he garnered two Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) nominations.

Along with the Audience Development Committee nominations and much critical acclaim, French won the Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 1997. French currently teaches acting at Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York as he continues to direct and to act on stage and in film.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arthur Wellesley French's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his mother's childhood in the British West Indies and her move to the United States
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how his parents met in New York City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his earliest childhood aspiration
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his father's work
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesly French describes his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesly French describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Harlem, New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable figures from his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his home life growing up in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about attending St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem, New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests and activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests in reading and math
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable teachers from P.S. 90 and J.H.S. 40 in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about overcoming asthma and playing sports while growing up in the Bronx, New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his early interest in drama in high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley talks about his father's death and working to help support his mother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Arthur French talks about attending The Bronx High School of Science and Morris High School in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about helping his mother with her sewing jobs after his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experience at Morris High School in the Bronx, New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working for the New York City Department of Social Services
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experiences working for the New York City Department of Social Services
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his early interest in acting
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working as a stagehand for doo-wop groups in the late 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Dramatic Workshop and his acting coach, Peggy Feury
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about joining Maxwell Granville's acting group in Harlem, New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working behind the scenes for the play 'The Blacks: A Clown Show'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arthur French recalls his first acting role in the play 'Raisin Hell in the Son'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about marrying his wife in 1961
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the play 'Raisin' Hell in the Son'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about pursuing acting while working full time
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in three summer stock plays, including HistoryMaker Ossie Davis' 'Purlie Victorious'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers meeting HistoryMaker Douglas Turner Ward
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about notable figures who attended the play 'Days of Absence'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'Perry's Mission'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Negro Ensemble Company's groundbreaking success
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the naming of the Negro Ensemble Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays produced by Negro Ensemble Company in New York City during the late 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his response to reading theater reviews
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the early years and accomplishments of the Negro Ensemble Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French explains how his attempt to act in Hollywood, California was derailed
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about applying to The Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx, New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his decision to commit to acting full time
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the opening of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the cast of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in 'Our Street' and the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers stage director Gilbert Moses
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about performing the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death' at the Tony Awards
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the powerful ending of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the controversial aspects of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his role in 'Death of a Salesman'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'The River Niger'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about 'Ceremonies in Dark Old Men' and directing August Wilson's 'Fences' in Vermont
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers playwrights Lonne Elders III and August Wilson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley describes his acting awards
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers actress Rosetta LeNoire
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his roles in various television shows and movies
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares an anecdote about one of his early television performances
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about protests against 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey' in London, England
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about being typecast as older characters
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about current and future projects
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley talks about the theme of passing in the film 'Bellclair Times'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his training in method acting
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about continuing challenges in African American representation in film
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers his mother, Ursilla Ollivierre French
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his thoughts about discrimination and historical misrepresentation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how he would like to be remembered