Marius at an Equity Meeting in the 1970s
Marius Goring at a Trades Union Council meeting in the 1970s
Marius Goring outside the High Court 30 July 1986

Equity and other causes​

 

In 1929, at the age of seventeen, he became a founding member of British Equity, the actors' union, and would be intricately involved with it for the rest of his professional life.

 

He served on its council from 1949 and was three times its vice president from 1963 to 1965, 1975 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1982.

 

Goring's relationship with his union was fraught with conflict and, as an influential and conservative member of the union he waged battles in the 1970s with such left-leaning members as the Redgraves: Vanessa and her brother Corin. He did not want union funds being contributed to causes such as the Miner's Strike fund as he viewed that as sacrificing its neutrality. He believed that, above all, the union's focus should always be on the welfare of its members and that it should not get involved in political causes.

As the vanguard of the conservative faction in Equity (Act for Equity), he spent years battling the Redgraves and their Workers Revolutionary Party supporters for control of the union. Corin Redgrave was known to refer to him insultingly as "Herr Goring".

 

These fights became increasingly vitriolic and quite bitter at times, often waged through the editorial pages of The Times and The Stage newspapers. Marius was a frequent writer of Letters to the Editor of The Times and other newspapers about union matters and on a number of other subjects on which he had an opinion.

Marius was prepared to fight strenuously for any cause he believed in, often taking court action and putting his financial security on the line, particularly in his battles with Equity. He claimed his doggedness was inherited from his father. He also seems to have been profoundly influenced in his fighting determination by his work in propaganda during WW2, believing that "the best way to win round an enemy is to infiltrate their culture, rather than isolate it". And he also firmly believed that "Art can only flourish when it is apolitical". Thus, his belief that Equity should be strictly neutral in political terms and his firm resistance to the restrictions imposed on actors working in South Africa during apartheid and Equity bans on TV & radio programmes being sold there. See interview with Marius ("An old trouper who fights on for the truth") below.

He took his union to litigation on three occasions. In the longest running case, regarding the issue of the supremacy of a referendum to decide Equity rules, he took it as far as the House of Lords in 1978 and won his case.

 

However, in 1992, he unsuccessfully sought to end the restriction on the sale of radio and television programmes to apartheid South Africa. This particular litigation nearly bankrupted him, due to the heavy amount of court costs (estimated at the time to be up to £180000). He had even put up the deeds of his house as surety for his legal costs for the earlier court case that went to the House of Lords. 

Marius was also a tireless campaigner to save theatres throughout the country from being closed down or demolished. He spearheaded several campaigns with Save London's Theatres, including the Shaftesbury, taking legal action in his own name to prevent it from being gutted. He also worked to save others such as the Lyceum, the Grand Theatre Blackpool and Wilton's Music Hall.

Saving the Shaftesbury was particularly important to him as it was where he had had his West End debut in 1934 in 'The Voysey Inheritance'.

Michael Denison, Richard Briers & Marius Goring outside the Shaftesbury Theatre October 1973
Marius Goring and Milton Johns outside the Shaftesbury Theatre 9 October 1973
Marius Goring (Vice President), Derek Bond (President) & Peter Plouviez (General Secretary) arriving for an Equity meeting in 1976
"Actors reject move for South Africa ban" article in The Daily Telegraph 4 April 1960
"Enter players, shouting" Equity article by Prufrock in The Sunday Times 4 February 1973
"Equity decides against South Africa boycott" article in The Daily Telegraph 26 April 1965
Save theatre fighters win the first round article in the Evening Standard 9 October 1973
Law 'guards theatre' article re Shaftesbury Theatre in The Guardian 10 October 1973
'Marius Goring is barred from court' article re Shaftesbury Theatre in the Evening Standard 16 October 1973
Fight for London Theatre (Shaftesbury) article feat. photo of MG in The Illustrated London News 24 November 1973
Grand Theatre Blackpool 'will not open again' article feat. MG photo in The Guardian 12 April 1973
Curtain up on the new Shaftesbury article in the Evening Standard 19 November 1974
"Reviving music hall without taking the mike" - Wilton's Music Hall article in The Sunday Times 21 October 1973
"New life for world's oldest Music Hall" article in The Daily Telegraph 23 November 1977
Wilton's Music Hall - Goring back in race for music hall article in the Evening Standard 2 September 1977
"Trust members disapprove of new music hall plans" by Martin Huckerby in The Times 26 June 1978
"London's hall of fame" article in The Illustrated London News 27 February 1988
"Stars of the Equity show" cartoon by Heath in The Sunday Times 9 November 1975
"Enter Marius Goring, stage right" article by Andrew Stephen in The Sunday Telegraph 11 June 1978
"Equity acts to curb extremists" article in The Daily Telegraph 6 August 1975
"Goring 'declines' to resign from Equity Council" article in The Stage 14 July 1977
"Equity counts the cost after Goring victory" article in The Stage 31 July 1986
"Goring galls Plouviez" (Equity General Secretary) article in The Stage 30 March 1989
"Star foils apartheid row ban on actors" article in the Daily Mail 1 May 1986
"Equity exceeded powers with S. Africa ban - judge" article in The Guardian 30 July 1986
"Actors are paying for race sanctions" article in the Evening Standard 18 April 1991
"Actor fights South Africa union ban" article in The Daily Telegraph 16 January 1992
"Goring loses and is left with bill" article in The Stage 30 January 1992
"Pressure to end South Africa ban" article in the Evening Standard 17 February 1993
"Equity bankruptcy threat to Goring" article in The Stage 15 April 1993
"Goring launches fighting fund to stave off union's bankruptcy threat" article in The Stage 29 April 1993
An old trouper who fights on for the truth - interview with MG in The Times 15 September 1993
"Goring drops South Africa appeal" article in The Stage 21 October 1993
"Equity to pursue case costs" article in The Stage 4 November 1993
"Equity lifts TV ban on South Africa" article by A J McIlroy in The Daily Telegraph 10 November 1993