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McCrindle, Alex

Alex McCrindle

Alexander McCrindle was born on August 3, 1911 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.  

 He was married twice, the first was Margery (Midge), the second to Honor (Morfydd) Arundel, children's writer and Daily Worker film critic, Honor died in 1973.

Alex died on April 20, 1990 in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. 

From the Communist Biography:

McCrindle, who was born on 3rd August 1911 in Glasgow, was a formidable actor, but was effectively blacklisted because of his Communist and Equity activities for much of the important years of his career, especially from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s.

In the period 1937-9, he appeared in a dozen plays on the first broadcasts of television before the medium was closed down for the duration of the war, sometimes being credited as Alex McCringle or Alex McGrindle, as well as in his own name.

He starred in the British BBC radio show `Dick Barton Special Agent’ from 1946-51, which ran for 700 episodes and had 15 million listeners. Alex played the role of Jock Anderson one of Dick Barton’s key henchmen and was widely loved for the role and enormously popular in it. In 1947, he was producer of the TV programme `Larry the Lamb’.

In the 1950s, he appeared – often uncredited to escape the blacklist– in a string of small budget movies as a character actor. But, in the main, blacklisting resulted in him devoting more time to building up Equity and securing improved pay and conditions for Actors, to meet this objective he founded Scottish Equity and he only worked in British television and then only twice during the early 1960s.

In the later stage of his career, he began to secure significant parts in films and TV programmes from `The Saint’ in 1965, and then through many other projects, with increasingly more significant parts, to `All Creatures Great and Small’ and `Taggart’ and then, in the 1977 first `Star Wars’ movie in which he played a rebel general.

George Lucas, short of capital, offered the actors on the movie "points" in lieu of salary. Big stars such as Alec Guinness, could afford to indulge in some capitalist speculation and take "points" and, in the event, the film proved to be the best move Guinness ever made financially. "Hollywood thought Darth Vader was a tough nut," one luvvie has recalled, "but they hadn’t met Alex."! He campaigned through Equity for bonuses for all actors in Star Wars, among them R2-D2 (who was played, or operated inside, by Birmingham born Kenny Baker), who also took a working wage and contributed to the success of Star Wars.

Alex had a great love of Scottish poetry and regularly read it aloud to audiences. He produced and read his own selection of 37 poems by William Soutar (Glasgow, Scotsoun, 1989) and raised money for Brownsbank Cottage.

He was married twice, the first was Sandy *Note: a name error, the second wife, Honor Arundel, the Communist children’s author and Daily Worker film critic.  The home of McCrindle and Arundel in the fifties was always a hub of Party activity and organisation, as the writer Doris Lessing notes in her autobiography.

Alex became close friends with Paul Strand, the famous photographer, and was a major asset to Strand’s in his `Tir a’Mhurain’ photography project. He went onto become Strand’s agent in Scotland, negotiating with Compton Mackenzie and visiting the School of Scottish Studies in order to help set up the project.

In the 1980s, with US screenings no longer debarred to him, he appeared in dozens of major roles on television mini-series, including "Reilly: The Ace of Spies" and in film such as `Eye of the Needle’. As late as 1987 he played the role of a jailer in `Comrades’, the film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Alex McCrindle’s obituary in the Times (Saturday 28 April 1990) was headlined ‘Communist stalwart’ and stated that he remained committed to an ‘unrelenting Marxism which lost nothing of its purity and uncompromising severity’.

His daughter Jean also became involved in politics and an award for drama was named after him. Alex McCrindle died on April 20, 1990 in Edinburgh.

Comrades~1987 - Jailor
Samson & Delila~1984 (aired 1987) - Mr. Trevorrow
Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam "Turkish Star Wars"~1982 - footage from Star Wars of General Jan Dodonna (this is in the Star Wars references database)
Eye of the Needle~1981 - Tom (see Actor Connections - Film)
Correction, Please or How We Got Into Pictures~1979 - Enemy Hepworth (short film)
The Peregrine Hunters~1978 - Hawkeye Brown
Star Wars~1977 - General Jan Dodonna
Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The~1970 - Baggageman (see Actor Connections - Film)
Depth Charge~1960 - Skipper
Wee Geordie~1955 - uncredited Guard
Trouble in the Glen~1953 - Keegan
The Little Kidnappers~1953 - uncredited Minister
Gilbert Harding Speaking of Murder~1953 - Music Critic
I Believe in You~1952 - Mr Haines
I'll Never Forget You (The House in the Square)~1951 - James Boswell

Producer Film
Larry the Lamb~1947

High Road~1988-1990 - Bert in 1.574/576/726
Screen Two~1989 - Man in Office in Leaving
Taggart~1988 - Tramp in Dead Giveaway
The Play on One~1988 - Wilfred "Wilf" in Normal Service
Sakharov~1984  - Siberia Trainman
Reilly: The Ace of Spies~1983 (mini) - Macdougal in Prelude to War
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady~1984 - Macbeth Bain in March
Flying Into The Wind~1983 - The Tramp
The Gentle Touch~1982 - Old Man in Tough Mrs. Rudge
Cloud Howe~1982 - Old Leslie in:
Mackenzie~1980 - Bill Campbell in:
     Marriage Value
     Preliminary Enquiries
Sounding Brass~1980 - Mr. MacKenzie (5 episodes)
Play for Today~1978-1979 -
     Father in Degree of Uncertanity
     Tam in Donal and Sally
Dick Turpin~1979 - Dr. Hector Andrews in Swiftneck
All Creatures Great and Small~ 1978 Ewan Ross in Fair Means and Fowl
Shadows~1976 - Mr. Campbell in The Dark Streets of Kimball's Green
The Hill and the Red Fox~1975 - Deckhand in 1.1
Sutherland's Law~1973-1974 -
     MacGillivray in The Thirteenth Man
     James Keenan in The Killing
Adam Smith~1973 - Jimmy Black in 2.20
The View From Daniel Pike~1971-1973 -
     Shakespeare in Credit Where It's Due
     Captain McPhee in The Short Price Premium
Dr. Finlay's Casebook~1963-1969 -
     Hughie in Pastures New
     Mr. Shiel in The McTavish Bequest
     Arthur Hepburn in The Next Provost But One
     Fairbairn in The Doctor Cried
     Colin Bell in The Face Saver
Myster and Imagination~1968 - Lapraik in The Devil's Piper
The Flight of the Heron~1968 - Keppoch in:
This Man Craig~1966-1967 - Willie Sinclair (52 episodes)
Undermind~1965 - Professor Emmett in End Signal
Saint, The~1965 - Fergus Maclish in The Golden Frog
Witch Wood~1964 - Reverend Proudfoot
Kidnapped~1963 - 1st Crofter in Red Fox
The Dark Island~1962 - Mr. Stewart in 1.1/1.2 and 1.4
The Master of Ballantrae~1962 - Captain Teach in 1.2/1.3
Adventure Theatre~1956 - Music Critic in Thirty Days to Die
Rheingold Theatre~1954 - Kelly in The Ship's Doctor
Lied der Ströme, Das (Song of the Rivers)~1954  - Commentator (English version)
Wednesday Theatre~1952-1953 -
     Philibent in Holiday in Biarritz
     Mr. Poprad in The Mayor of Torontal
BBC Sunday-Night Theatre~1953 - Scotsman in All on a Summer's Day
The following are plays which were filmed and broadcast before WWII shut down TV production:
The Switchback~1939
Death at Newtown-Stewart~1939
Rehearsal for a Drama~1939
The Knight of the Burning Pestle~1938 - George Greengoose
The White Chateau~1938
Juno and the Paycock~1938
Not According to Schedule~1938
Who Killed Cock Robin~1938
On the Spot~1938
The Seventh Man~1938
The Ghost Train~1937
Turn Round~1937

TV Producer
Larry the Lamb~1947
Variety~1946 (episodes: December 9/November 18, 1946)

The Crucible~1978 - (Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, England, UK)
The Tempest~1973-1974 - Master of a Ship (London)
Merry-Go-Round~1973 -  (Royal Court Theatre)
The Freedom of the City~1973 - (Royal Court Theatre, London, England, UK)
1954 and All That~  - (Part of the British Legion Players)
Six Men in Dorset~1937 -

Theatre Producer
Androcles and the Lion~19?? (on board a Royal Navy ship during WWII)

Radio (UK)
Still a Special Agent~1990 - a profile of Dick Barton - Special Agent - guest
  ~1988 - Wilfred
Dick Barton and All That~1982 - a retrospective of Dick Barton - guest
Afternoon Theatre~1972 - Man in The Witch of Park
A Sleeping Clergyman~1971 - Sergeant
Shaw and the Webbs~1968 - Ramsay MacDonald
Morning Story~1966 - Reader (from Scotland)
     Foreign Business Transacted
     Pardon My Dynamite
highland Holiday~1962 - Sam in (story #2) A Question of Bikes
The Long Distance Piano-Player~1962 - performer
El Dorado~1953 - Evans
Film Time~1953 - The Chinese Film industry as seen by Alex McCrindle (from a recent trip to China)
The Lallans Makars~1952 - Reader - Scottish poetry
Sports Parade~1951-1952 - Introduced by (ongoing series)
The Tragedy of Macbeth~1951 - one of the Two Murderers
Dick Barton-Special Agent~1946-51 - John "Jock" Anderson (this program ran for 700 episodes and his character was quite popular)
The Cast of Dick Barton Special Agent, from left: Alex McCrindle (center) c. 1948. ©BBC Photo Library
Children's Hour~1950 -
     Professor Selby in The Island of Moressa
     The Witch of Redesdale
Hullo, Children~1950 - Storyteller: Four Hands in Holiday Harmony
Housewives' Choice~1950 - Introduction of request records (ongoing series)
Sports Report~1949-1950 - Introduced by (ongoing series)
The Wooden Horse~1949 - McIntyre
Gordon Grantley, K.C.~1949 - Bruce Mackay
Focus on Tourism~1949 - Narrated by
Progress Report~1948 - Reporter of Britain's production effort (ongoing series)
Weather Ship~1947 - commentator (on board the ship Weather Observer for the Christmas Day programme Men of Goodwill.)
Mystery Playhouse~1947 - George Gatwood
Theatre Programme~1946 - Programme introduction narrated by McCrindle: March Hares; The Duke in Darkness; Is Acting a Lost Art?
The Burgomaster of Stilemonde~1940 - Jean Gilson/A German Soldier
The Lawyer of Springfield~1940 - Town Councillor
The Vortex~1939 - Bruce Fairlight
For Older Children~1939 - Unknown in Pioneers for the Kingdom
Emergency Call~1939 - Unknown
Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London~1938 - (BBC Radio - Northern Ireland)
For Older Children~1938 - Unknown role in Smith of Demerara
Atlantis: The Lost Continent~1938 - Unknown role

Radio (UK) Writer
Mirror of the Month~1949 - The Channel Tunnel Story (written by)
Meet the People - Fred Watcham, Baker~1948 (written by)
John Paul Jones~1947 (adaptation)
I Had a Pitch on the Stones~1947 (adaptation)

1989 - Merry-Ma-Tanzie: Alex McCrindle reads his own selection of 37 poems by William Soutar

1961 - Alex McCrindle raised money for Brownsbank Cottage from MacDiarmid’s friends to install electricity and water and build a lean-to kitchen and bathroom. The cottage, as it is now, retains many of its original artifacts: portraits, wallie dugs, memorabilia. MacDiarmid himself once observed, ‘This place is a growing shrine to my vanity’. Much of its charm derived from Valda’s flair for collecting esoteric items at jumble sales, not to mention her carpentry skills!

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