Cairney, John 1930–

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Cairney, John 1930–

PERSONAL: Born February 16, 1930, in Glasgow, Scotland; son of Thomas (a works foreman) and Mary (a homemaker; maiden name, Coyle) Cairney; married Sheila Parker Cowan, May 29, 1954 (divorced May 29, 1979); married Alannah Mary O'Sullivan (an actress and writer), September 27, 1980; children: (first marriage) Jennifer, Alison Cairney Hill, Lesley Cairney Manners, Jane Cairney Livingstone, Jonathan. Ethnicity: "Eurasian." Education: Attended Glasgow School of Art, 1947–48; University of Glasgow, B.A., 1953; Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, diploma, 1953; also earned B.A., 1984, M.Litt., 1988, and Ph.D., 1994; trained at Victoria Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand, 1992–94. Politics: "Left-wing." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Soccer.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—24 Westminster Rd., Auckland, New Zealand. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Wilson Barret Company, Edinburgh, Scotland, actor, 1952–53; Glasgow Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, actor, 1953–54; Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Bristol, England, actor, 1954–56; film actor, 1956–65; television actor, 1965–70; Shanter Productions, Glasgow, founder, writer, director, actor, and consultant, beginning 1970; painter, 2004–. Actor in plays, including "Hamlet," 1960, "The Entertainer," 1972, and "Cyrano de Bergerac," 1974; actor in television productions, including "The Robert Burns Story," 1969, "Jackanory," 1970, "Elizabeth R," 1971, "Scotch on the Rocks," 1972, "McGonagall," 1976, "The Ivor Novello Story," 1977, "The Robert Burns Story," 1978, and "Mackintosh," 1979; actor in the television series "This Man Craig," 1968, and "Burns," 1978. Robert Burns Festival, Ayr, Scotland, founder and director, 1975–. Military service: Royal Air Force, entertainer, 1948–50.

MEMBER: British Actor's Equity Association, Associated British Theatre Technicians, New Zealand Actors' Equity Association, Writers Guild, Songwriters Guild, Scottish Society of Playwrights, Edinburgh Arts Club, Glasgow Art Club, British Broadcasting Corporation Club, Performing Rights Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, silver medal, James Bridie Award, and Alec Guiness Award, all 1953; citation from Scottish Tourist Board, 1977, for Robert Burns Festival; Jubilee medal, Queen Elizabeth II, 1978.



An Edinburgh Salon (revue), produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1974.

Holy Fair (two-act musical), produced in Ayr, Scotland, at Robert Burns Festival, 1975.

Lingering Star (two-act), produced in Greenock, Scotland, 1976.

Kirk Session Follies (two-act musical), produced in Ayr, Scotland, at Robert Burns Festival, 1977.

Bard (two-act musical), produced in Ayr, Scotland, at Robert Burns Festival, 1978.

The Scotland Story (pageant), produced in Linlithgow, Scotland, 1978.

Knox and Mary (for two actors), produced in Glasgow, Scotland, 1979.

Clarinda Correspondence (two-act for two actors), produced in Irvine, Scotland, 1979.

Drunk Man Looks at Burns (two-act for two actors), produced in Irvine, Scotland, 1979.

As Others Saw Him (two-act documentary), produced in Largs, Scotland, 1979.

The Byron Letters (for two actors), produced in New Zealand, 1980.

A Wartime Childhood in Glasgow, produced in Ayr, Scotland, at Robert Burns Festival, 1980.

Black-out, produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1981.

Other plays include The Ivor Novello Story, Mackintosh the Man, and There Was a Lad. Scripts for solo shows include Macikintosh, The Private Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, The Real McGonagall, and The Robert Service Story. Scripts for two actors include At Your Service, Around the World in Eighty Minutes, Blackout, Byron's Women, The Chopin Affair, A Christmas Carol, Dorothy Parker and Friend, Football Crazy, The Golf Story, A Mackintosh Experience, Mr and Mrs RLS, Mr Fezzywig's Christmas Party, Love Letters, and A Wilde Fancy.


Another School of Thought, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), 1968.

New Year Soliloquy (poem), Scottish Television, 1968.

The Robert Burns Story, Scottish Television, 1969.

McGonagall, Scottish Television, 1970.

Robert Louis Stevenson, CFAC-Television, 1971.

The Ivor Novello Story (musical), Scottish Television, 1973.

Mackintosh (lecture), Scottish Television, 1976.

Robert Service (for two actors), CFAC-TV, 1977.

Two for a Show (for two actors), Border Television, 1979.

Author of a series of six plays, "Burns," Scottish Television, 1968; other television plays include Bonie Jean and Mackintosh.


A Man Called Robert Burns (film script), World Wide Films, 1966.

Robert Burns (film script), Edinburgh Films (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1973.

Miscellaneous Verses (poetry), Shanter Productions (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1974.

The Real Dorothy Parker (radio script), Radio New Zealand, 1980.

A Moment White (book), 1986.

The Man Who Played Robert Burns: An Autobiographical Journey, Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1987.

East End to West End (autobiography), Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1988.

A Burns Experience (video script), 1989.

Worlds Apart (novel), Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1990.

A Year Out in New Zealand (journal), Random House New Zealand (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

A Scotch Tusitala (radio play), Radio New Zealand, 1994.

Tam o'Shanter (radio play), Radio New Zealand, 1996.

An Immortal Memory (video script), 1996.

A Scottish Football Hall of Fame, Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1998.

On the Trail of Robert Burns, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.

(Editor) The Luath Burns Companion, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2001.

Solo Performers: An International Registry, 1770–2000, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2001.

(Editor and contributor of introduction and commentary) Immortal Memories: A Compilation of Toasts to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns as Delivered at Burns Suppers around the World Together with Other Orations, Verses, and Addresses, 1801–2001, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

The Quest for Robert Louis Stevenson, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2004.

The Quest for Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.

Heroes Are Forever (autobiography), Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.

Glasgow Flourishes (essays), Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2006.

Contributor to books, including foreword to By the Shores of Galilee, Aulton Press, 1989; Tales Out of School, Collectors Books (England), 1991; Ring of Bright Words, Balnain Books (England), 1994; introduction to Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, HarperCollins (England), 1995; and Stevenson Reconsidered, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2004. Author of a monthly column for the Internet Web site Tartan Umbrella, 2002–. Contributor of articles and poetry to magazines and newspapers, including Scotsman, Annabelle, Drama, People's Journal, Sunday Post, and Glasgow Herald.

SIDELIGHTS: John Cairney once told CA: "I have the unique experience of being a solo performer who travels around the world performing his own scripts. This allows me to research, write, and perform my own material at my own discretion anywhere I wish, providing people want to hear me. I depend solely on my own whim, industry, daring, imagination, impudence, and dogged professionalism. My wife and I make a back-to-back artistic team capable of dealing with nearly every exigency in the theatrical and literary worlds, both as writers and performers of the spoken word."



Cairney, John, The Man Who Played Robert Burns: An Autobiographical Journey, Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1987.

Cairney, John, East End to West End, Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1988.

Cairney, John, A Year Out in New Zealand, Random House New Zealand (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

Cairney, John, Heroes Are Forever, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.


Presenting John Cairney: The International Face of Robert Burns, (May 26, 2006).