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Robert Loraine
"The Flying Stage"
Loraine as caricatured in Vanity Fair, 10 January 1912
Born (1876-01-14)January 14, 1876
New Brighton, Liscard, Cheshire, England
Died 23 December 1935(1935-12-23) (aged 59)
London, England
Occupation actor
Years active 1889-1935
Spouse(s) 1897 Julie Opp (divorced )
1901 Winifred Lydia Strangman(3 daughters)
Awards Military Cross
Distinguished Service Order

Robert Loraine (14 January 1876 - 23 December 1935) was a successful London and Broadway stage actor, actor-manager and soldier who later enjoyed a side career as a pioneer aviator. Born in New Brighton, Liscard, Cheshire, England, his father was Henry Loraine and Robert made his first stage appearance in the English provinces in 1889. He served in the Boer War (1899-1902). He introduced the George Bernard Shaw play Man and Superman to Broadway in 1905.[1][2]

Theatrical career

Loraine was a versatile actor and was successful both in serious plays and in popular works of light entertainment. He was particularly associated with the works of George Bernard Shaw, taking over the role of John Tanner from Harley Granville Barker in the fourth[3] run of Man and Superman at the Royal Court theatre. He also won critical acclaim for performances in plays by William Shakespeare and August Strindberg.


In 1909 Loraine took up the new technology of aviation learning first to fly at the Bleriot school at Pau, France. He then switched to the easier to fly Farman biplane, on which he achieved great fame. In September 1910 he made what is credited as being the first aeroplane flight from England to Ireland, although he actually came down in the sea about 200 feet (60 metres) from the shore.[4] The same month he piloted one of the two Bristol Boxkites which took part in the British Army manouevres on Salisbury Plain, during which he sent the first radio signals to be sent from an aeroplane in Britain.[5] His diary is cited by the Oxford English Dictionary as the first written example of the word joystick to describe aircraft stick controls.

Miitary career

Loraine served as a volunteer in the Boer War between 1899 and 1901.

During the First World War he flew with the Royal Flying Corps, winning the MC and the DSO in 1917 and twice being seriously wounded, and commanded 40 Squadron. During his service he did not entirely abandon the theatre, running a drama society in his squadron, which performed the premiere performance of Shaw's play O'Flaherty V.C. at Treizeenes in Belgium.[6] By the end of the war he had reached the rank of lieutenant-general.

Personal life

In 1901 he married Julie Opp. After their divorce he married Winifred Lydia, daughter of Sir Robert Strangman in 1901. They had three daughters.

Selected filmography

  • Bentley's Conscience (1922)
  • S.O.S. (1928)
  • Birds of Prey (1930)


  1. Robert Loraine at
  2. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre 2nd edition by Gerald Bordman, c. 1992; by The Oxford University Press
  3. Desmond MacCarthy, The Court Theatre, 1904-1907 (1966 edition), pp. 122, 127, 142, 152
  4. Mr Loraine's Irish Channel Flight Flight International 17 September 1910
  5. Barnes, C. H.,Bristol Aircraft Since 1910. London, Putnam, 1988, p.15.
  6. Gill, Peter. "The Stage History of Shaw's O'Flaherty VC". Retrieved 12 February 2012. 

External links

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