Frank Harvey was born Harvey Ainsworth Hilton in 1883 in Earls Court, London, his father was John Ainsworth Hilton and mother was Elizabeth Hilton. His occupation in the British 1911 Census was "actor" and was married with Grace Hilton, née Ackerman. He had 3 sisters, called Maria, Cora and Caroline according to British 1891 Census.
Caroline Gladys Hilton was married to Hanns Wyldeck and from that union was born in 1914 Harvey Martin Wyldeck also an actor who died in England 1989. He was the cousin to Frank Harvey, Harvey Ainsworth Hilton's son from Grace Hilton. Martin Wyldeck's son Christopher Wyldeck also moved to Australia in the 1970s and is a TV director.
Harvey's father was also a writer.
Harvey studied acting under Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and played Shakespearean parts in the Lyceum Theatre in London. In 1914 he was engaged by J. C. Williamson to play in Australia with Nancye Stewart, and did not return to Britain until 1926.
In 1922 and 1923 he played the leading man in a number of J & N Tait productions with the Emélie Polini troupe and toured Australia and New Zealand.
When Harvey returned to Britain, it took him several months to re-establish himself there, but was cast in The Transit of Venus and then had little difficulty finding work, being particularly well regarded for a role in Jew Suss. Acting in this saw him have a nervous breakdown and he was ordered to take three months off.
Harvey also had two plays produced, The Last Enemy and Cape Forlorn.
By 1931 he was back in Melbourne to appear in a series of plays for J.C. Williamson, including On the Spot and a production of his own Cape Forlorn. Harvey said he preferred working on stage to screen:
An actor on the screen is not an actor at all, but a robot. In the days of the silent films, an actor could have a distinct screen personality; but now that speech has come, all that is ended. After the novelty has worn off, talking films will settle down here, as they have abroad, into a mere substitute for the silent films, and will not interfere in any way with the prosperity of the legitimate theatre. The screen should stick to the sphere in which it is really capable – the sphere of spectacular production, such as Iies outside the ambit of the legitimate stage. It is really a glorified sideshow.
Harvey returned to London in October 1931, but was back in Australia in 1933 to work for F. W. Thring at Efftee Productions as an actor and screenwriter.
In 1935 he moved to Sydney and began writing and acting for ABC radio. This involvement later led to full-time appointment as senior drama producer in 1944, directing such stars as Queenie Ashton (in early episodes of Blue Hills), Lyndall Barbour and Nigel Lovell. Older Australians may remember him as Nestor the story-teller in the Argonauts Club for most of the '40s. His play False Colours was staged by Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre.
In 1936 he founded a school of voice production and dramatic art with Claude Flemming.
That year Harvey also went to work for Ken G. Hall at Cinesound Productions as a studio dialogue director and in-house screenwriter. Starting with It Isn't Done (1937), Harvey wrote or co-wrote nine produced feature film scripts for Cinesound over the next four years, often playing small roles in them as well.
During World War II, Harvey served in the Volunteer Defence Corps until 1944, when he left the army and went under contract to ABC as a radio actor and producer. He eventually became ABC's head of radio drama.
By the time Harvey retired in 1952 he had directed many hundreds of radio plays. He was appreciated by actors for his wit and communication skills.
He married Grace Ackerman in 1910 and divorced her in 1923 on grounds of desertion. On 3 April 1924 he married Helen Rosamond "Bobbie" McMillan, an actress with the Emélie Polini troupe and daughter of Sir William McMillan, Minister for Railways in New South Wales, Australia.
A son (1912–1981) by his first marriage, also called Frank Harvey, was a British playwright and novelist who wrote the play Saloon Bar and screenplays for British movies including Seven Days to Noon (1950) and I'm Alright Jack (1960).
He had a daughter, Helen, by his second wife.Within Our Gates (1915) – director
Cape Forlorn (1931) – original play, actor
The Mayor's Nest (1932) actor
Up for the Derby (1933) actor
The Streets of London (1934) – actor
A Ticket in Tatts (1934) – actor
Sheepmates (1934) (abandoned) – actor
Clara Gibbings (1934) – writer
Heritage (1935) – actor
White Death (1936)
It Isn't Done (1937) cowriter Carl Dudley, actor
Tall Timbers (1937) – writer, actor
Lovers and Luggers aka Vengeance of the Deep (1937) – writer, actor
The Broken Melody aka The Vagabond Violinist (1938) – writer, actor
Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938) – writer, actor
Let George Do It (1938) – writer, actor
Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1939) – writer
Gone to the Dogs (1939) – writer, actor
Dad Rudd, MP (1940) – writer, actor
musical version of Robbery Under Arms (1934)
film version of Collitts Inn (circa 1934)
Monsieur Beaucaire (1935) – actor
Scandal(1935) – actor
My Lady's Dress (1935) – actor
Dead or Alive by Edmund Barclay (1936) – actor
The Fire on the Snow (1941 original production by Frank Clewlow) as Robert Falcon Scott
Macbeth (1948) with Lloyd Berrell and Lyndall Barbour – director
Waterloo Bridge (1948) with Max Osbiston – director