Becoming an Established Actor


Trader as Richard in John Gielgud’s production of “The Lady’s Not for Burning” at the Royale Theatre in New York, 1951

It was a young Peter Finch who introduced Trader to the world of acting in 1946 and persuaded him that he had what it took to be a success. A lack of finances meant that Trader hadn’t been able to go to University so he was concentrating on becoming an established actor and with Peter Finch’s help and contacts was soon involved in the theatre and radio in Sydney. It was also at that time that Trader trained as an acrobat with Ted Ardini, spending many weeks plucking up the courage and skill to perfect a back flip that he would continue to practise until the age of seventy-two.

Trader’s big break came with the arrival of the famous director, Tyrone Guthrie, who was recruiting for a play called “Top of the Ladder”. Trader was playing Dr Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the time and impressed Guthrie with his convincing performance and ability to slip effortlessly between his own Ozzie twang and the accent of an eccentric French doctor. He was advised to leave for London without delay and start work.

Trader had contractual obligations in Australia, so it was a short time later that he arrived in London and checked into a cheap hotel in Eccleston Square, Victoria. He started work in the kitchen of a Lyon’s corner house and in his free time started contacting the influential people of theatre in a bid to find work. Soon afterwards Trader auditioned for John Gielgud who was looking for an actor to replace the young Richard Burton in Christopher Fry’s “The Lady’s Not For Burning” on Broadway. During the auditions Gielgud asked Trader his name. “Ronald”, he replied. “What a dreary name!” groaned Gielgud, perking up only when he learnt Trader’s nickname. “Marvelous!” he exclaimed, “We shall bill you on Broadway as Trader!”