Could a murdered actor still be haunting the theatre where he died..?
One of Victorian England’s most beloved actors – William Terriss –was dashing, charismatic, and adored by the public.
He was also well known for his generosity towards his fellow thespians.
Richard Arthur Prince was a struggling actor who’d been repeatedly fired from plays because of his erratic behaviour.
Despite this, Terriss helped Prince find roles, and supported him through the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.
But even Terriss’ patience wore thin in 1885…
Appearing together in a play, Prince’s behaviour was so appalling that Terriss, regretfully, had him sacked.
But Prince didn’t take it well – and, on the evening of 16 December 1897, he arrived at the Adelphi Theatre, where Terriss was starring in the
play Secret Service. Prince sneaked up behind Terriss and violently plunged a knife into his benefactor three times. Jessie Millward, Terriss’ lover and leading lady, heard the commotion and rushed to the scene, where he died in her arms. But not before he’d whispered his final words… I will come back.
Apprehended, Prince admitted murdering William Terriss for revenge.
Declared insane, he spent the rest of his life locked away in a mental institution. But what of William Terriss? The curtain may have fallen, but the slaughtered actor hadn’t taken his final bow…
In 1928, an actress called June was in her dressing room at the Adelphi Theatre when the couch on which she was sitting began to shake.
A green mist appeared, and June’s arms felt as if they’d been violently seized by invisible hands.
Finally, she heard two knocks on her dressing room door – the same dressing room regularly used by Jessie Millward. Before his death, William had been in the habit of knocking twice on her door with his cane when passing.
There were more bizarre incidents ahead.
Stagehands saw a human shape, shrouded in green mist, hovering above the stage, and reported unexplained sounds coming from William’s old dressing room. Performances were also plagued by technical hitches, while theatre workers heard disembodied footsteps, and felt
It seems the slaughtered actor hadn’t taken his final bow…
a sinister presence in empty rooms. One witness even said a ghostly figure had passed straight through a door. Had William Terriss made good on his dying promise?
The most recent sighting occurred in 2012, when comedian Jason Manford was speaking to his daughter over Skype from his dressing room at the Adelphi...
‘Daddy, who’s that man behind you?’ she asked.
Turning and finding no-one there, Manford asked his daughter what the man looked like, and she described him as ‘a sad soldier’.
The theatre manager told Manford how Terriss had been murdered just before a performance of Secret Service, in which he played an army lieutenant.
So it seems William Terriss is still making an impression, even in death, just as he did in life.
Terriss off-stage… …and … in costume
Autograph , please!
Jason Manford Daughter saw a spectre over Skype