Monday, January 17, 2011

Death Date for Jack Ackroyd

John Edward "Jack" Ackroyd was a diminutive supporting comedian who worked in Mack Sennett Comedies over the course of several years, beginning in 1919 (and returning periodically for freelance roles). Ackroyd's most prominent film role was as Syd Chaplin's sidekick Alf in the 1926 Warner Brothers/Vitaphone feature THE BETTER 'OLE, one of the first films to include a synchronized musical score.

My biography for Jack Ackroyd in Mack Sennett's Fun Factory contained his birthdate and place--January 5 (though it may actually be June 5), 1889 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England--and biographical information on his first forty years. However, I lost his trail after he stopped appearing in "Hollywood" films circa 1930, and I was not able to find death information for him. I presumed that he returned to England, and his death info was contained in information I could not access at the time.

Bill Cappello has just informed me that he turned up death information for Ackroyd in the England Death Index. According to the index, John E. Ackroyd died in October, November or December 1962, at age 73, in Taunton, Somerset, England. Bill also found death information for Florence Ackroyd (who is likely Jack's wife, better known as Flossie), born in 1895 and died January, February or March 1970, in Taunton. Their son William, who was born in Los Angeles on December 26, 1926, died in December 1994, also in Taunton, Somerset. The Ackroyds also had a daughter named Margaret, who was born in 1918/19 in Canada, where the Ackroyds resided before coming to the United States in 1919. Her death date is undetermined.

I have found the passenger list for the ship Brittanic (White Star lines), which arrived in Liverpool (from New York) on September 7, 1931, and likely represents (for the parents at least) their relocation to England. In this registry, John's wife's name is listed as Lily (though with an age matching Flossie), and they were planning to reside in Bradford, Yorkshire.

Also still to be determined is what Jack Ackroyd's activities were, occupationally and otherwise, once he returned to England in 1931. Ackroyd's hometown of Bradford is in the north of England, just west of Leeds. Taunton, where he relocated, is in southwest England between Exeter and Bristol, quite a ways from Bradford. The details on Ackroyd's life after U.S. films likely lies somewhere in Taunton.


  1. He was a superb comedian. He even shared a series with Polly Moran for C.B.C. They showed up in one of the Hallroom Boyscomedies IN BAD AGAIN.

  2. Just ran the 1930 version of THE DAWN PATROL and it was great to see Jimmy Finlayson, Clyde Cook and Jack Ackroyd prominently featured in the supporting cast. At one point Finlayson seemingly adlibbed, "Move along there, Ackroyd!" or something similar. And need I say Brent that your Mack Sennett book stays by my bedside every night? I continue to learn from it and enjoy it every day.

  3. Jack Ackroyd's daughter, Peggy, was my second cousin. Her date of death was April 26, 2002 at her home in Mountain View, CA. She was married to John W. Sullivan and they had two children...Debra and Gerry. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with the family since Peggy's death. My maternal grandmother and Peggy's mother, Flossie, were sisters.