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Dora Bryan

Dora Bryan

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Also Known As: Dora Broadbent Died: July 23, 2014
Born: February 7, 1923 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Lancashire, England, GB Profession: actor, singer, comedian

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A petite, blonde with a Lancashire accent and expressive face adept at wide-eyed innocents whose naivete is played for laughs, Dora Bryan is a much-loved veteran character actress, often cast in films in eccentric or lower-class roles. She made her stage debut as a child in a pantomime in Manchester and encouraged by her mother joined the Oldham Repertory while still a teenager. After spending eight years honing her craft there, she headed for London to try her luck on stage. Cast in a production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives," the actress was encouraged to adopt a stage name by Coward himself. She opted for Dora Bryant but a typographical error left off the last 't' and she became Dora Bryan. She proved a versatile and popular performer, often in stage musicals like "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1962) and "Hello, Dolly!" (1966-68). Bryan also headlined a number of stage revues such as "The Dora Bryan Show" (1966) and "An Evening with Dora Bryan and Friends" (1968). Throughout the 1980s and 90s, she continued to work on stage, making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Pierce in "Pygmalion" (1987), starring Peter O'Toole and Amanda Plummer. Other notable credits include her first Shakespearean role, Mistress...

A petite, blonde with a Lancashire accent and expressive face adept at wide-eyed innocents whose naivete is played for laughs, Dora Bryan is a much-loved veteran character actress, often cast in films in eccentric or lower-class roles. She made her stage debut as a child in a pantomime in Manchester and encouraged by her mother joined the Oldham Repertory while still a teenager. After spending eight years honing her craft there, she headed for London to try her luck on stage. Cast in a production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives," the actress was encouraged to adopt a stage name by Coward himself. She opted for Dora Bryant but a typographical error left off the last 't' and she became Dora Bryan. She proved a versatile and popular performer, often in stage musicals like "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1962) and "Hello, Dolly!" (1966-68). Bryan also headlined a number of stage revues such as "The Dora Bryan Show" (1966) and "An Evening with Dora Bryan and Friends" (1968). Throughout the 1980s and 90s, she continued to work on stage, making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Pierce in "Pygmalion" (1987), starring Peter O'Toole and Amanda Plummer. Other notable credits include her first Shakespearean role, Mistress Quickly in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (1984), Mrs. Malaprop in "She Stoops to Conquer" (1985), Carlotta Campion (singing "I'm Still Here") in the 1987 London production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies" and more recently, the 1994 revival of Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party."

Bryan broke into films in a small role in "Odd Man Out" (1946) and went on to play a number of what has been termed "jaunty little tarts whose bubbling vulgarity is rendered the more appealing by [Bryan's] aspiration to gentility.' characters in such films as "The Fallen Idol" (1948), "The Blue Lamp" (1950) and "Carry On Sergeant" (1959). Her best screen performance undoubtedly was as Rita Tushingham's boozy, blowzy mother in Tony Richardson's "A Taste of Honey" (1961), for which she received the British Academy Award as Best Actress. By the 70s and 80s, however, Bryan was making only rare appearances, often in projects unworthy of her talents. An exception was her teaming with British actress Liz Smith as denizens of the building in "Apartment Zero" (1988), her last screen role to date.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Apartment Zero (1988) Margaret Mckinney
3.
 Screamtime (1983) Emma
4.
 Hands of the Ripper (1971) Mrs Golding
5.
 Two a Penny (1968) Ruby Hopkins
6.
 The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (1967) Amber Spottiswood
7.
 Operation Bullshine (1963) Private Cox
8.
 A Taste of Honey (1962) Helen
9.
 Follow That Horse! (1961) Miss Bradstock
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Cast in a London production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives"; Coward advised her to adopt a stage name; she chose 'Bryant' but a typographical error in the program made it 'Bryan'
1972:
Featured in the British sitcom "Both Ends Meets"
1987:
Had featured role of Carlotta Campion in the London version of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies"
1962:
Played Lorelei Lee in the London production of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"
:
Encouraged by her mother, joined the Oldham Repertory Theatre at age 14; remained with the company for eight years
1946:
Film debut, "Odd Man Out"
1961:
Had one of her best screen roles as the mother in "A Taste of Honey"
1965:
Starred in the stage production "The Dora Bryan Show"
1994:
Won acclaim for her performance in a revival of Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party"
1985:
Earned accolades and critical praise for her stage performance in "She Stoops to Conquer"
1968:
Headlined the stage show "An Evening with Dora Bryan and Friends"
1935:
Made stage debut in a pantomime in Manchester, England
1966:
Replaced Mary Martin in the London production of "Hello, Dolly!"
1968:
Starred in her own British TV series "According to Dora"
1994:
Co-starred in the British sitcom "Mother's Ruin"
1984:
First appearance in Shakespeare, played Mistress Quickly in "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
1964:
Headlined the stage variety show "Here's Dora"
1987:
Made American stage debut in the Broadway production of "Pygmalion" starring Peter O'Toole and Amanda Plummer
:
Raised in Oldham, England
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Notes

Some sources list 1923 as the year of Ms. Bryan's birth

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
William Lawton. Hotelier, former professional cricket player. Married in 1954.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Albert Broadbent. Cotton bobbin salesman.
mother:
Georgina Broadbent. Dress shop owner.
son:
Daniel Lawton.
son:
William Lawton.
daughter:
Georgina Lawton. Model. Adopted.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"According to Dora"

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