Philip King, a British playwright and actor, was born in Yorkshire in 1904. He is best known as the author of the farce See How They Run (1944). He lived in Brighton and many of his plays were first produced in nearby Worthing. He continued to act throughout his writing career, often appearing in his own plays 1. He died on 9 January 1979.
Philip King began his career on his sixteenth birthday as an actor with a small touring company in the North of England, graduating to the Repertory Company at the Opera House, Harrogate. There he subsequently directed plays and saw his first comedy Without the Prince professionally produced, and shortly after presented in the West End at the Whitehall Theatre on 8 April 1940.
King made several appearances on the London stage, playing with such well-known stars as Sid Field, Frances Day and Hugh Wakefield and despite his success as a writer he was still drawn to his first love of acting.2
Of the events surrounding the West End first night of See How They Run in January 1945 King also wrote:
"At the time I was in the RAF and, luckily, stationed at the White City, Shepherd's Bush. During my four years service I had risen from the rank of AC2 (the lowest rank possible) to AC1 (not the highest), but I was fortunate inasmuch as, owing to the shortage of accommodation at White City, I was allowed to 'live out' in civilian digs.
"By the grace of God the play went like a bomb - even three 'doodlebugs' 3 dropped during the performance. George Gee, playing the leading part, swore that all three dropped as he was saying his funniest lines. No one left the theatre until the play was over.
"The morning after the 'first night' I went down to Shepherd's Bush, bought every morning paper there was, and went to my usual workmen's cafe directly opposite RAF White City, and over a pint mug of tea and a Spam sandwich read the notices.
"They were marvellous! But, as I read them, I suddenly remembered the pictures I had seen of Noel Coward sitting up in a wonderful looking bed, in an even more wonderful dressing-gown, a silver tray at his side, reading his notices! And here was I...a pint mug of tea and a thick Spam sandwich. But what the hell? I had a success. That's all that really mattered."4
Dates are first publication, or first production if this is earlier.
With Falkland L Cary
With John Boland