• 16 July 1895
  •  Dundee, Tayside, Scotland, UK

Hay Petrie


Diminutive Scots character actor of quirky personality and gift of gab. As a drama student at St. Andrews, he first performed in productions staged by the university's dramatic society. He served with the Royal Scots during World War I, then forged a career playing comic roles on the Shakespearean stage, where he was often billed as 'D.Hay Petrie'. With the Old Vic from 1920, he was much acclaimed for his performances as Sly in "The Taming of the Shrew" and as Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The screen saw him as eccentric personae, well-cast in period drama and in Dickensian parts (such as the malevolent debt-collector Quilp, in The Old Curiosity Shop (1934) and as the corn-chandler Uncle Pumblechook in Great Expectations (1946)). An inveterate scene-stealer, Petrie was able to slip with consummate ease from genre to genre and from comical to villainous. He is perhaps best remembered as The MacLaggan in The Ghost Goes West (1935) and as the evil Dr. Fosco in Crimes at the Dark House (1940). To his ever-lasting regret, he missed out on the two parts he most coveted: that of Sancho Panza in Feodor Chaliapin Sr.'s film version of Adventures of Don Quixote (1933) and as Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Petrie died suddenly, just two weeks after his 53rd birthday, from undisclosed causes.