Producer-director-agent-actor Hartney J. Arthur died in Bethel, Conn., of respiratory failure on March 24. He was 86.
Arthur was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and began appearing in silent films at age 10. A vaudevillian at 14, he made his legit debut in the mid-1930s, appearing with Judith Anderson in “The Green Hat” and touring New Zealand in the title role of “Charley’s Aunt.”
During the next decade he was variously under contract to Warner Bros. and the J. Arthur Rank Studios.
He moved to the U.S. permanently in 1949 and made his television debut with E.G. Marshall on “Kraft Playhouse.”
Arthur worked on Broadway as the director and producer of the production “The Legend of Lizzie Borden,” and he co-produced the West End production of “Auntie Mame” starring Beatrice Lillie.
He also produced many shows in Australia including the premieres there of “The Sound of Music,” “The Caine Mutiny” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
He was with the theatrical agency Briscoe/Goldsmith handling such established stage performers as Ruth Chatterton, Sylvia Sidney, Eva LeGallienne and Mildred Natwick as well as newcomers Sandy Dennis and William Daniels.
In 1965 he became the director of the Ford Foundation’s new organization servicing the burgeoning regional theater movement, Theater Communications Group. After six years as its head, he left to teach film history at Fairfield U. in Connecticut.
He was predeceased by his partner of 40 years, Markland Taylor, critic for Variety.