A Tribute to Christopher Casson

A TRIBUTE TO CHRISTOPHER CASSON
(1997)
Duration: 29.22 minutes

Christopher Casson was one of the most distinguished and popular actors of his generation. Filmed only four days before he died at the age of 84, this enduringly popular short film features an interview with his friend the late Brendan O’Reilly, the highly popular broadcaster with whom he once acted on the Capitol Theatre stage in 1953. Originally conceived as an Esperanza pilot for a TV series on distinguished lives it was actually broadcast as ‘A Tribute To Christopher Casson’ on the first anniversary of his death July 10, 1997.

All involved in the making of this production were quite shocked and deeply upset by Christopher Casson’s sudden death as he made a very big impression on everyone in such a short time by his good humor, remarkable energy and professionalism.

Christopher’s life as he recounts in the film, spans almost the entire history of the Irish theatre in the 20th Century. Michael MacLiammor, his mentor, was the best man at his wedding and with whom he worked for many years at the Gate Theatre. He also played many important character roles in numerous films including Captain Lightfoot, Shake Hands with the Devil – with James Cagney – and even in the year before his passing Frankie Starlight.

“We felt privileged to have witnessed what was to prove the last performance of a giant of the Irish theatre and who has been justly described as the “First Gentleman of the Irish Stage”. He also showed in the film the depths of his conviction as a pacifist, an intellectual and a very spiritual person. Playing his beloved harp and singing he reminded us why he was regarded a noted harpist and ballad singer as well as a renowned actor. The completion of the film was made possible because every member of the crew insisted that it be finished – the ultimate tribute,” Ronan Tynan, Producer of A Tribute to Christopher Casson said.

The son of Sir Lewis Casson and Dame Sybil Thorndyke, two of the best known figures on actors of their generation, Christopher Casson was a member of one of the great families of the 20th Century stage.

POSTSCRIPT

This film ironically now also represents, in a real sense, a tribute to Christopher’s great friend the late and much loved broadcaster Brendan O’Reilly. Brendan came up with the concept for a series on distinguished lives without which we would not have this important interview – a valuable record on film of a very important person in the history of the Irish theatre.