Cloak of Mystery

In charting the cultural rehabilitation of Oscar Wilde in my article Finding Oscar, I alluded to the first appearances of him as character on screen.

I made reference to the well known bio-pics about Wilde released in 1960; before those he was in episodes of two separate UK and American TV series in 1958; and the erstwilde earliest Oscar could be found in a Canadian TV drama series of 1955.

Now the bar has been lowered. Predating all of those Oscars was this brief portrayal (above) by a quite Wildean-looking actor complete with cane and green carnation.

The problem is that nobody seems to know who he was.

The film in question is the technicolor feature The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan released in 1953. It was made by the fine team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder as a contribution to the national celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a flop. The film, I mean—particularly for the hitherto solvent production company British Lion Films.

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