This is just a sample of some of the famous stars of stage and screen known to have Hatfield connections or just visited the town.


Wilfred Draycott (real name: Frederick William Drayson) – actor who made his stage debut in 1876. Mainly appeared in light comedies and farces. Joined touring companies and performed around the world – from New York to the Theatre Royal in Tasmania. In 1918, aged 70, he went to France during WWI and worked for the Church Army with the British Expeditionary Force. In 1920 was awarded the Schleswig Medal by the King of Denmark. Died in Hatfield, aged 90, in 1938.


Ben Lyon – Hollywood star, probably best known for starring alongside Jean Harlow in the Howard Hughes' 1930s aviation epic Hells Angels.  Was a member of the Stage and Screen Aero Club based at Hatfield (Along with his wife, British actress Bebe Daniels), and qualified for his British pilot's licence here.


Sir Gerald Du Maurier –  actor, theatre owner (co-owned the Wyndham Theatre) and father of author Daphne Du Maurier. Played the male lead in a charity production Grand Giggle opposite Dorothy Dickson (Mrs Douglas Cory-Wright) staged at Hatfield in the year before he died.


Joan Fontaine – sister to Olivia de Havilland and a cousin of Sir Geoffrey de Havilland. Visited Hatfield after the war and went for a flight in a jet fighter.


Olivia de Havilland – sister to Joan Fontaine and a cousin of Sir Geoffrey de Havilland. Visited Hatfield after the war and went for a flight in a jet fighter. Received an honorary degree from the University of Hertfordshire in 1998, and in 2002 started the building work for the de Havilland Campus.


Sir Alec Guinness – legendary 20th Century star of stage and screen. Played Obi-Won Kenobi in the original Star Wars movies. Filmed a brief scene at Hatfield as Charles I in the 1970 film Cromwell. The real King Charles I visited Hatfield as a prisoner in 1647.

Claim to Fame – Royalty



Richard Harris – Best known to younger audiences as the original Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies. Played Cromwell in the entertaining but historically inaccurate 1970 movie of the same name.


Angelina Jolie – played Lara Croft in the early Tomb Raider films, which used Hatfield House and park as exterior locations for Croft Manor.


Matt Damon – was Private Ryan in the film Saving Private Ryan. The 'French village' set was built on the airfield but was demolished once filming was complete.


Tom Hanks – Hollywood icon and 3-time Oscar winner, played the lead role in Saving Private Ryan.


Vin Diesel – relatively unknown at the time, he played a Corporal on the rescue team in Saving Private Ryan.


Ted Danson – played Captain Fred Hamill (commander of the 'wrong' Ryan) in Saving Private Ryan. Film and tv star, body of work includes 'Three Men and a Baby' and 'Cheers'.


Robert Downey Jr – played Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.


Jude Law – played Dr Watson in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.


Rachel McAdams – played Irene Adler in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.


Johnny Depp – See under 'Music'.


Sir Norman Wisdom – stand up comedian, star of stage, film and tv. Spent around six months in Hatfield, along with his elder brother Fred, as a young teenager (lodged with the Denmark family at farm at Roe Green and attended school in the town). He later returned as an adult. In his autobiography he relates how he was booked to give a performance at Hatfield House with Eddie Leslie but it was cancelled due to the rain (however, he reportedly helped judge the fancy dress competition). Spying a bulge in roof of a marquee where water had collected he borrowed a walking stick and pushed it up – the resulting torrent of water soaked several people (however, he had been seen by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother). This was most probably Hertfordshire Festival of Youth held in June 1957. There are unconfirmed reports that he opened Skippers fish and chip shop in the town centre, and made appearances at the original Forum theatre.

Top ^


Back to: Hatfield claims to fame


Copyright © 2009, 2012 D H Markus. All rights reserved. No liability is accepted for the accuracy of information in this site.