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Dora Bryan

Discussion in 'WWII Era Obituaries (non-military service)' started by GRW, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Dora Bryan, who has died aged 91, started out as a dancing and singing actress, making her first professional appearance at the age of 12 in Manchester with the 23 other girls of the Eileen Rogan Drury Lane Babes in Jack and the Beanstalk. She excelled as the plain-speaking young woman from the north, and the presence this gave her brought a wide range of work on stage and screen in the decades following the second world war.

    Her basic stage personality – bright, streetwise but unworldly – was squeezed into Restoration comedy, the Hello Dolly! lead in the West End (twice), JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls at the Chichester Festival theatre and Meg, the guesthouse keeper oblivious of the sexual and other power-play in Pinter's The Birthday Party at the National Theatre. In 2001 she contributed to the mayhem in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous, and she continued in TV comedy until 2005, as Ros Utterthwaite in Last of the Summer Wine.

    Her most substantial film role came in A Taste of Honey (1961). But from the first, Bryan could make even makeweight characters come alive, as with the kindly streetwalker in the film of Graham Greene's The Fallen Idol (1948), who gives a lost boy a touch of needed feminine warmth and understanding. A part that could have set the teeth on edge was redeemed by the catchy humour of the acting.

    She was born Dora May Broadbent in Southport, Lancashire, and brought up in a village near Oldham. Her father, Albert Broadbent, owned a small mill that went bankrupt, forcing him to sell bobbins from door to door, sometimes taking Dora with him. Her mother, Georgina (nee Hill) encouraged her to perform in public.

    Dora saw her family background as happy, but was attracted by the potential extra attention that acting offered. The first live show she saw, Peter Pan, gave her the urge to play Peter. After seeing Ingrid Bergman in Intermezzo, she spoke with a Swedish accent until an adored elder brother told her not to be so silly.

    Though she won a place at grammar school she did not take it up, preferring to join the Drury Lane Babes and then, on leaving school, went into pantomime at Glasgow. The following year she was in Mother Goose in London with Max Wall.

    After the London Academy of Music and Manchester Repertory School, she joined Oldham Rep as an assistant stage manager. During the second world war she travelled to Italy with ENSA to entertain the troops."

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