TWENTY-TWO years after his death, Scotland at last is to honour Donald Crisp, the actor who was a pioneer in the American film industry and the first Scot to win an Oscar.

Crisp, born in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, starred in 400 films and directed dozens of others.

He co-directed with movie legends D W Griffith and Buster Keaton and made the switch to ``talkies'' to become one of Hollywood's great character actors.

During his 55-year film career, Crisp starred in National Velvet with a young Elizabeth Taylor and co-starred with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Mickey Rooney, and, of course, a dog called Lassie.

In 1941, he was awarded an Oscar for his performance in How Green Was My Valley, the saga of a Welsh coalmining family.

Until now, Crisp has never been commemorated in his own country. An omission all the more surprising given his life story, which was more dramatic than many of the Hollywood epics he starred in.

Born the son of a doctor, Crisp was educated at Eton and Oxford but volunteered for the Boer War, in which he fought as a private soldier and was wounded.

He interrupted his career in the movies to act as a British secret agent in Russia during the First World War.

Jimmy Logan, who is to unveil a plaque to the actor in Aberfeldy later this month, explained: ``Donald Crisp was a remarkable man whose recognition is long overdue. People recall seeing him in a movie but they don't realise his importance to the development of Hollywood.

``He had three lives rolled into one. He was an opera singer when he first went to the United States. Then he became involved in the film industry during its pioneering days.

``Along with D W Griffith, he co-directed Birth of a Nation, the great film that really launched the American film industry. He organised all of the war scenes in the movie and played General Grant.

``Then, after a successful Hollywood career, he embarked on a new career as an adviser on film production loans for the Bank of Italy, which eventually became the Bank of America.''

Donald Crisp retained an affection for Scotland, returning regularly to visit relatives in Aberfeldy and to make one of his last movies, Greyfriars Bobby, shortly before his retirement in 1963.

He died in America in 1974, 30 years after the death of his second wife, the screenwriter Jane Murfin.

As well as unveiling a plaque to the actor, Aberfeldy is to host a Donald Crisp Film Festival with free showings of his films in the Aberfeldy recreation centre, including National Velvet and How Green Was My Valley, from August 21 to August 23.