Walter Brandon Thomas (24 December 1850 – 19 June 1914) was an English actor, playwright and song writer. He is best known for writing the comic play Charley's Aunt (1892), which broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances.
Thomas was born in Liverpool, England. He worked for a time as a clerk but preferred the stage and began performing in music halls and drawing room entertainments, playing the piano, singing his own songs. In 1879, he joined the company of Mr. and Mrs. Kendal and continued acting for many years. In 1885, Thomas toured the United States as the leading man with the company of Rosina Vokes, together with Weedon Grossmith. His first big London success was in Sweet Lavender by Arthur Wing Pinero.
Charley's Aunt premiered at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds on 29 February 1892. Thomas himself played Sir Francis Chesney in the play. The piece then opened in London at the Royalty Theatre on 21 December 1892 and quickly transferred to the larger Globe Theatre on 30 January 1893 to complete its record-breaking run. It also had a major success on Broadway (1893) and had wide international success, with productions in many countries and languages. Also in 1892, Thomas played in W. S. Gilbert's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, a parody of Hamlet, at the Royal Court Theatre.
In 1895, Thomas starred in the 1895 revival of The Rivals. Other plays by Thomas include Comrades, The Color Sergeant, The Lodgers, A Highland Legacy, The Gold Craze, Marriage, The Swordman's Daughter (adapted from the French by Thomas and Clement Scott, and A Judge's Memory, among others. He also wrote a number of popular songs.
Thomas died in London and is buried there, in Brompton Cemetery.
- ^ Article about longest theatre runs, 1875-1920
- ^ Millward, Jessie. Myself and Others (1923, Hutchinson & Co., London), p. 210
- ^ a b c Information from New York Times obituary, June 20, 1914, p. 9
- ^ Profile of Thomas
- ^ William Davenport Adams (1904). A Dictionary of the Drama. Burt Franklin. http://books.google.com/books?id=tjwOAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PA275&lpg=RA2-PA275&dq=%22charley's+aunt%22+%22globe+theatre%22+1892&source=web&ots=JeqK-DzSrc&sig=vZjpWR9efWOJ0xsWcVbfp3yld0s.
- ^ IBDB listing of Broadway productions of Charley's Aunt
- Brandon-Thomas, Jevan, Charley's aunt's father: A life of Brandon Thomas D. Saunders (1955)
- "Brandon Thomas Dies; Author of "Charley's Aunt" and Other Plays Was Once an Actor.". New York Times. 20 June 1914. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A0CE3DA133EE733A25753C2A9609C946596D6CF. Retrieved on 2008-08-08. obituary, p. 9
- Find-A-Grave biography
- Brandon Thomas at the IBDB database