Shortly before receiving his call-up papers in July 1940, Richard Todd had become a co-founder of the Dundee Repertory Theatre. In his autobiography, ‘Caught in the Act’, Todd describes how the small-time impresario Robert Thornley had asked him to join his recently formed small company and had chosen Her Majesty’s Theatre Dundee by closing his eyes and jabbing a list of theatres with a pin!
Richard Todd was delighted to accept Thornley’s invitation and appeared in the opening play, ‘On the Spot.’ The huge theatre was very run down and in need of a great deal of repair, so Thornley eventually managed to acquire Dundee’s Forester’s Hall. After gathering together a consortium of businessmen in three days, he was able to finance a reconstruction of the Hall and by the end of the year it became the new permanent theatre. So on Wednesday 20th December 1939 the Dundee Repertory Theatre was finally launched with a gala performance of ‘Hassan.’
With the clouds of war looming in the background, the aspiring young actor Richard Todd, (who was eagerly awaiting his call-up papers) was beginning his now legendary stage and film career.
Above is a programme, provided by Neil, from March 1940 showing the Dundee Rep with Richard Todd in ‘The Case of The Frightened Lady.’ Four months later, he received his call-up papers and was sent to Strensall Camp, the site of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the start of his heroic war years. Later, as a member of the 6th Airborne Division he became the first man of the main force to parachute out over Normandy on D-Day.
To read a lot more about the life of Richard Todd (1919-2009) please click here.