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Posted 10 July 2016 - 11:58 PM
"Owen Holder, who has died aged 95, was a playwright, actor and scriptwriter.
He was born in Southgate, north London, on March 18 1921. After the death of his father when Owen was eight, he was sent to a charity school for fatherless children, Reedham Orphanage in Purley, Surrey, which he left at 14. Having decided to educate himself, he became a great reader and a prodigious source of facts and stories.
After school he moved to London where he found work as an office boy with Amalgamated Press and spent some time as an assistant to a commercial artist.
He then landed his first theatrical job – playing a guard in a costume drama at the Grafton Theatre, Tottenham Court Road.
When war broke out Holder initially registered as a conscientious objector, a decision he almost instantly regretted and, after withdrawing his registration, he applied to join the Army.
Meanwhile, he found more acting work in repertory and, as he would later recall, “a line or two to say in films”. One of these was Gabriel Pascal’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara. During filming – some of which took place in the Albert Hall – Holder was thrilled to see Shaw himself appear on set, talk spiritedly with everyone and embrace the actress Sybil Thorndike.
Holder spent the last year of the war serving in the National Fire Service in Aberdeen (where he was allocated instead of the Army), after which he returned to London."
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