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Overview for Dora Bryan
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: Cast ... actor comedian singer


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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