Above: The first of two cabinet photographs depicting the costars of the 1900 production of The Second In Command, a comedy in four acts by Robert Marshall. The play is set just
before the lead character's regiment - in the case the 10th Dragoon Guards - being deployed to South African during the Anglo-Boer War. Allan Aynesworth portrayed Lieutenant Colonel Miles Anstruther, DSO while Cyril Maude was cast as Major Christopher Bingham
Windrow & Grove - Photographer
63A Baker Street, W., London, England
While Allan Aynesworth, like many other actors, may have played British officers on stage from time to time he had a more direct connection to the military than most being born at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst on 14 April 1864. His birth name was Edward Henry Abbot-Anderson and at the time his like-named father was a captain serving with the 18th Regiment of Foot.
Educated in England, France, and Germany Aynesworth made his stage debut in London in 1887 in The Red Lamp. He created the role of Lieutenant-Colonel Miles Anstruther for The Second in Command (as he is pictured here). Well regarded in his day his many roles included parts in stage productions such as Billy’s Little Love Affair, Imprudence, The Freedom of Suzanne, and Mrs. Temple’s Telegram. He returned to military roles in The Barrier in which he played Captain Antony Erquen and later starred with Lilly Langtry in A Fearful Joy in 1908.
A rarity among actors, Aynesworth made the transition to silent film seamlessly and performed an encore of sorts when he just as easily transitioned to sound films. He had a role with George Arliss in The Iron Duke (1934), in Brewster's Millions (1935) with Jack Buchanan and Lili Damita, and with Charles Laughton and Flora Robson in the never completed 1937 production of I, Claudius. His last film was the 1949 production of The Last Days of Dolwyn with one of his costars being a young Richard Burton. Perhaps Aynesworth’s greatest tribute came many years later when an interviewer asked the great Sir John Gielgud who had inspired him as an actor? Gielgud’s reply: “Allan Aynesworth”.
Aynesworth seems to have been married twice. Firstly to Mary Augusta Oliver whom he married in London in 1892 and divorced in 1903 and secondly to Edith Margaret Liddell. He does not seem to have had any children from either union.
Aynesworth passed away at the ripe old age of 95 at his home in Surrey on 22 August 1959.