Thomas Betterton is widely regarded as the greatest actor of the English Restoration period. Betterton was born in or around the year 1635 in London, England. As a young man, he was apprenticed by John Rhodes, who established a theatre company at the Cockpit Theatre of Drury Lane. Betterton began acting there and quickly rose to public attention. In 1668, Betterton became director and manager of the Duke's Company, with whom he had previously acted. During his lifetime, Betterton acted in many leading roles, including those in William Shakespeare's Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Although he was certainly a talented actor, Betterton may also be England's greatest Restoration director-manager. He invented numerous stage machines and brought the practice of using moving scenes (as opposed to tapestry) over from France.
Whether Betterton is the greatest English actor of all time is up for debate, but it is generally thought he was the best of the Restoration period.