Hollywood Movies

Wellington’s Hollywood movie star Jack Ackroyd to feature in film festival

April 11, 20242 Mins Read

NEARLY a century ago Jack Ackroyd retired to live a quiet life in Wellington – although he did bring a Rolls Royce with him.

Few knew he had been a Hollywood movie star in about 70 silent films, many with comedy superstar Stan Laurel.

Nor that he was shot and badly injured as a young soldier in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during WWI.

Now, Wellington Film Festival is screening a documentary about Jack, with clips from many of his films and an interview with great-grandson David Ackroyd, who lives in Bulford, at 6.30 pm on April 21.

Private Jack Ackroyd pictured in  1914.

Private Jack Ackroyd pictured in 1914. ( )

Jack moved to Los Angeles in 1919 and found a job as a cleaner at the Max Sennet Studios, where a casual screen test revealed the camera loved him.

Appearing with Louise Fazenda, the Keira Knightley of the 1920s, in the comedy Hearts and Flowers, was Jack’s second big break.

Bigger roles followed, especially with Stan Laurel, making 13 films together over the next decade.

The Better ‘Ole, a slightly surreal comedy set in the trenches with Jack as a squaddie sharing a dugout with megastar Syd Chaplin, was a box-office hit.

Jack was a Hollywood A-lister, sharing dinner with Stan Laurel and his family and hanging out with other stars.

But sound movies killed his career almost instantly and by 1931 Jack, wife Florence, and two children, moved to Wellington to be close to mum Sophie.

They renamed their Ardwyn house Loma Vista, honouring a Beverly Hills street. He lived in retirement for 31 years, dying in his sleep in 1962.

Winners of last week’s competition for tickets to the French film Untouchable (15) have been notified.

The quiz answers were: 1 The Seine, 2 Netflix, 3 Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, 4 Emmanuel.

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