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Ivan Berlyn, English actor

September 2, 2014

Ivan Berlyn (1867-1934), English actor
(photo: Augustus Charles Huber, 120 Princes Street, Edinburgh, circa 1915)

Ivan Berlyn, an actor of very wide experience who in 1906 was described as one ‘of weird and eccentric character parts.’ (The Green Room Book, p. 30) He appeared in every type of production, from pantomime to Shakespeare, and in 1922 played both Shylock and Fagin in films. His real name was Isaac Berlin, although in the same edition of The Green Room Book he gilded the lily by declaring that it was actually Ivan Emanuel Julian von Berlin.’ He added that he ‘comes from and old Alsace-Lorraine family, and was originally intended for the legal profession; prepared for the stage at the (now defunct) London School of Elocution [i.e. the South London School of Elocution and Dramatic Art, established 1884] and by the late Samuel Brandram.’ He was certainly using the forename Ivan by the age of 21 when, as Ivan Berlin, he organized a concert at the Prince’s Hall, Piccadilly, London, on 9 June 1888 (The Morning Post, London, Thursday, 24 May 1888, p. 1c). He was again recorded as Ivan Berlin in the 1891 Census. On that occasion he was living at 17 All Saints Road, Kensington with his parents, Emanuel Berlin (1840?-1921), ‘mercantile clerk,’ a native of Hamburg, who came to England in 1857, and his wife Amelia (née Joseph), who were married in 1864, as well as his sisters, Emily and Jenny Berlin and his brother, Joachim Norman Berlin (1875?-1943), described as the ‘Manager of the Chelsea Palace.’

In the 1911 Census Ivan Berlyn is recorded as living at 3 King William Street, London, WC, together with a boarder, Henry Armstrong (Henry Louis Winthrop Armstrong, 1881-1915), an actor who was born in New South Wales, Australia, and a lodger, Wyn Williams (1885?-?), a London-born theatrical organizer. Berlyn and Armstrong appeared together in The Great Young Man, a comedy by Prince V. Bariatinsky, which was produced at the Kingsway Theatre, London, on 31 October 1911.

Ivan Berlyn died on 11 December 1934 at the National Hospital, Queen Square, Holborn, London.

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