David's spreading the word
published February 5, 1997
David Hofman started his career as the only male television announcer in
the world before World War II, and has ended it as one of the forces behind
the rapid rise of the Bahá'í Faith to become one of the largest independent
Visiting the Whitehorse Bahá'í community this week as part of a national
tour, David recalled his time as the only male BBC television announcer
between 1937 and 1948, at a time of "experimental" broadcasts.
"There are 5000 receiving sets and it was purely experimental.
There were two broadcasts a day at 8am and 5pm… we did outside broadcasts
at Wimbeldon and the cricket. I was on the roof at Lords when Donald Bradman
made a double century," he said.
England had the only public service in the world at the time although
this was shut down when war was declared. He then worked on BBC 'Empire
Service' and broadcast many programs to Australia.
"In those days we were the arbiters of good speech" David said.
Today he believes the media should help raise the standards of morality and
human conduct instead of lowering standards. "I think the media has a
very large portion to blame for the condition of humanity today,"
David said. He became a Bahá'í in 1930s in Canada and in 1937 established
a Bahá'í Publishing Trust in the UK, 'George Renold', which still exists
During the war he went into fire service, putting out fires after bomb
raids. "As a Bahá'í, I wanted to do my national service, serve my
country, but we don't want to out killing," he said.
David also worked in radio and theatre, appearing in several West Ends
shows in 1930s. In 1963 he was elected to the first world governing body
of the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice, and lived at the head
quarters on Mt Carmel in Haifa, Israel, for 25 years until he retirement
"We don't have any priesthood in the Bahá'í Faith at all,"
he said. Instead the Bahá'í Faith operates on a system of freely elected
governing councils set p in communities world-wide and claims to have over
six million followers. The system was founded in 1800s by a Persian noble
man and teaches world wide peace, unity and harmony, based on a single
God represented by all the world's religions. Today the 88 year old former
distinguished English TV announcer, actor, publisher and spiritual messenger
travels the world visiting Bahá'í communities. "I enjoy my life now
because everywhere I go I meet my spiritual brothers and sisters,"
published May 26, 2003
The Times (UK)
archived at www.thetimes.co.uk.
One of the first television presenters who went on to advocate the Baha’í faith
DAVID HOFMAN was an actor, writer and publisher who, during the 1930s, was among the first television presenters in the world. He was also a
highly respected member of the Baha’í faith, serving for 25 years on the religion’s international governing council.
Born in Poona, Hofman set off to see the world after a brief spell in the RAF. His travels took him to Canada where he worked as a clerk in
lumber camps, an actor, an insurance salesman and as a radio announcer. By this point, Hofman had formulated his own ideas about global justice
and governance. However, a meeting with the distinguished architect William Sutherland Maxwell and his family — all devoted early
adherents to the Bahá’í faith — challenged Hofman’s thinking. The Baha’í peace programme corresponded almost
exactly with Hofman’s own. In time, he was overwhelmed by the “palpable feeling of warmth and unity” around the Maxwells and
embraced the faith.
A period in Hollywood saw Hofman appearing in swashbuckling serials and becoming acquainted with such legends as Greta Garbo. In 1936 he
settled in Britain and, while pursuing his acting, responded to an advertisement for television announcers for the BBC’s first daily
transmissions. Hofman became the only male television presenter in the world, chauffeured each day to Alexandra Palace where he spoke to the
small number of homes that had television. He was amused once to get a call from Moss Bros, who offered to provide dinner suits in return for
his public endorsement. When war broke out, the transmissions shut down and Hofman returned to the stage and appeared in a number of short
propaganda films, playing the devil. He was also employed as an announcer on the BBC Empire Service.
After the war, Hofman married the former the US Olympic athlete Marion Holley. Moving around the country, they founded Bahá’í
groups in Northampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Cardiff and Watford.
Hofman set up his own publishing house — George Ronald Publishers. The company specialises in books of religious interest. Its first
publication was his own book, The Renewal of Civilisation, since translated throughout the world. In 1983 he wrote an acclaimed literary
biography of Canon George Townshend, a Church of Ireland official who had resigned his duties to promote the Baha’í faith.
In 1963 the Baha’í community — which has no clergy — elected its international governing body for the first time, and
Hofman was among the members voted on to it. Based in Haifa, he served for five five-year terms, until his retirement in 1988.
He is survived by his second wife Kathleen, a daughter and a son.
David Hofman, actor, TV announcer, writer and Baha’í dignitary, was born on September 26, 1908. He died on May 9, 2003,