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John Kerr obituary

Actor who starred as the troubled pupil in Tea and Sympathy on stage and screen

The actor John Kerr, who has died aged 81, won a Tony award in his first starring role on the Broadway stage, as Tom in Tea and Sympathy in 1953, and subsequently appeared in the 1956 film version directed by Vincente Minnelli. Robert Anderson's play, in which a schoolboy "confesses" to his housemaster's wife that he might be homosexual – only to be seduced out of the notion by the sympathetic listener – was considered so controversial that it was restricted to a "members only" theatrical run in London, and Minnelli's film received an X certificate, despite modification, notably in the suggestion that the housemaster was gay.

Kerr starred as the boy, although by then he was in his 20s. Born in New York, son of the actors Geoffrey Kerr and June Walker, he had already graduated from Harvard, played in summer stock and made his Broadway debut in 1952 in Bernardine. He made a handsome hero and was superbly matched with Deborah Kerr (no relation) as she dispensed tea and largesse in equal measure. Although the movie was sanitised, the dialogue remained intelligent, the premise timely for the period and the acting exceptional under Minnelli's elegant guidance.

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See full article on The Guardian - Film News