Dora Bryan


Actor
Dora Bryan

About

Also Known As
Dora Broadbent
Birth Place
Lancashire, England, GB
Born
February 07, 1923
Died
July 23, 2014

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 sp...

Family & Companions

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

Bibliography

"According to Dora"
Dora Bryan (1987)

Notes

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

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 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.

Life Events

1935

Made stage debut in a pantomime in Manchester, England

1946

Film debut, "Odd Man Out"

1961

Had one of her best screen roles as the mother in "A Taste of Honey"

1962

Played Lorelei Lee in the London production of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"

1964

Headlined the stage variety show "Here's Dora"

1965

Starred in the stage production "The Dora Bryan Show"

1966

Replaced Mary Martin in the London production of "Hello, Dolly!"

1968

Headlined the stage show "An Evening with Dora Bryan and Friends"

1968

Starred in her own British TV series "According to Dora"

1972

Featured in the British sitcom "Both Ends Meets"

1984

First appearance in Shakespeare, played Mistress Quickly in "The Merry Wives of Windsor"

1985

Earned accolades and critical praise for her stage performance in "She Stoops to Conquer"

1987

Had featured role of Carlotta Campion in the London version of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies"

1987

Made American stage debut in the Broadway production of "Pygmalion" starring Peter O'Toole and Amanda Plummer

1994

Won acclaim for her performance in a revival of Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party"

1994

Co-starred in the British sitcom "Mother's Ruin"

Family

Albert Broadbent
Father
Cotton bobbin salesman.
Georgina Broadbent
Mother
Dress shop owner.
Daniel Lawton
Son
William Lawton
Son
Georgina Lawton
Daughter
Model. Adopted.

Companions

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

Bibliography

"According to Dora"
Dora Bryan (1987)

Notes

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