Brenda Bruce

Last updated

Brenda Bruce
Actor Brenda Bruce.jpg
Born7 July 1919 (some sources cite 17 July 1919)
Died19 February 1996(1996-02-19) (aged 76)
London, England, U.K.
Roy Rich
(m. 1946;died 1970)

Clement McCallin
(m. 197?; died 1977)

Brenda Bruce OBE (7 July 1919 [1] [2]  – 19 February 1996) was a British actress. [3] She had a long and successful career in the theatre, radio, film and television. [4]



Bruce was born in Prestwich, Lancashire in 1919, and started her acting career as a teenager on stage as a chorus girl. [5] She appeared with the Birmingham Repertory Company (1936–39) and was a long-time actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). [4] She was the RSC's resident Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor , playing the role in 1964, 1968, 1975 and 1995. [6] She appeared as Irma in the RSC's production of Jean Genet's The Balcony in 1971. [7] In the 1950s she appeared on television in many dramas, and in a chat show Rich and Rich with her husband. [5] She starred as Winnie in the 1962 British premiere of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days , [8] and in 1977 as Lucilla Edith Cavell Teatime in Murder Most English. [9]

Bruce played Aunt Dahlia in the 1990s production of Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. [10] Other roles include Tilda in the Doctor Who story "Paradise Towers", [11] Bea in the rag trade drama Connie [12] and in The Riff Raff Element . [13] In 1964, she played Mary Lewis in Nightmare . [14] In 1994, she starred in Honey for Tea , a short-lived sitcom. [15]

Personal life

She was married and widowed twice, first to television personality Roy Rich, with whom she had two daughters, and second to actor Clement McCallin, with whom she adopted a son. McCallin died in 1977, and her son died in 1994. [4]


She died in London on 19 February 1996 from undisclosed causes, aged 76. She was survived by her two daughters. [4]



1962 Happy Days Winnie Royal Court Theatre
Woman in a Dressing Gown The Vaudeville Theatre
1967 Little Murders Aldwych Theatre
1970 The Balcony Irma Aldwych Theatre
1980Romeo and JulietNurse Royal Shakespeare Theatre


1965 Host Planet Earth Clare Stewart BBC Light Programme
1977Cry God for Harry! Doll Tearsheet BBC Radio 4
1983 When the Wind Blows Hilda BBC Radio 4
1983 A Mad World, My Masters Courtesan's Mother BBC Radio 3
1986Too Long an AutumnMaisie May BBC Radio 4
1987Kiss of LifeDot BBC Radio 4
1992The Boy with the CartMother BBC Radio 4
1993 A Perfect Spy Miss Dubber BBC Radio 4

TV and filmography

Film & Television
1938Laugh with MeRose DinwiddyTV Movie
The Wooing of Anne HathawayKatharine HathawayTV Movie
1943 Millions Like Us BrendaUncredited
1944 They Came to a City One of couple on hillside
1945 I Live in Grosvenor Square 1st Girl in Guard's Van
1946 Night Boat to Dublin Lily Leggett
I See a Dark Stranger American WaitressUncredited
Piccadilly Incident Sally Benton
Carnival Maudie Chapman
1947 While the Sun Shines Mabel Crum
When the Bough Breaks Ruby Chapman
1948 My Brother's Keeper Winnie Foreman
1949 Marry Me! Brenda Delamere
Don't Ever Leave Me Miss Smith
1951 Two on the Tiles Janet Lawson
1953 The Final Test Cora
The Motorola Television Hour "Westward the Sun"
1954 Douglas Fairbanks Presents Emily"Man Who Heard Everything"
1958 Law and Disorder Mary Cooper
Behind the Mask Elizabeth Fallon
"Mary Britten, M.D.Mary Britten13 episodes
1960 Peeping Tom Dora
1961 Sunday Night Theatre May Sommers"Nearer to Heaven"
Sunday Night Theatre Elaine"The Wrong Side of the Park"
1962 Armchair Theatre "Girl in a Bird Cage"
ITV Play of the Week Millie Crocker Harris"A Lily in Little India"
Zero OneSarah Elkinson"Stoneface"
The Winter's Tale PaulinaTV Movie
Sunday Night Theatre Ethel Gibbons"This Happy Breed"
1963 Armchair Theatre "The Monkey and the Mohawk"
Dr. Finlay's Casebook Bridie Bell"The Face Saver"
1964 Nightmare Mary Lewis
1965 The Uncle Addie Morton
Armchair Theatre Ellen"The Lodger"
Thirty-Minute Theatre Pat Pendleton"Give the Clown His Supper"
1966 The Wednesday Play Betty Bradshaw"Way Off Beat"
ITV Play of the WeekMillie Crocker Harris"The Browning Version"
Knock on Any Door "The First Day of Spring"
Knock on Any Door"The Dear Ones"
1967The GirlMiss Cashcart
The Wednesday Play Mollie"Death of a Teddy Bear"
Softly, Softly Hilda Berry"An Eye for an Eye"
1968 Sherlock Holmes Saunders"The Dancing Men"
Late Night HorrorMary Pearl"William and Mary"
The First Lady Mary Tunnicliffe"Mrs. Whatever"
The GamblersGertie"Give and Take"
1969 The Virgin Soldiers Nursing SisterUncredited
The Wednesday Play Ma"Happy"
1971 A Family at War Mrs Thomas"Happy Returns"
Budgie Janey Baib"Sunset Mansions or Whatever Happened to Janey Baib?"
1972Country MattersMrs Holland"The Mill"
Thirty-Minute TheatreThe Wife"Not Counting the Savages"
The Man from HavenMary Balfour
1973CheriCharlotte5 episodes
That'll Be the Day Doreen
Play for Today Madge"Jingle Bells"
1974 Bedtime Stories Gertie"Hansel and Gretel"
Dial M for MurderKath"Recording Angel"
Alice Through the Looking Glass The White Queen TV Movie
Swallows and Amazons Mrs Dixon
1975 All Creatures Great and Small Miss HarbottleTV Movie
1976 Ubu roi Ma UbuTV Movie
Crown Court Angela Stacey"A Matter of Honour"
1977 The Man in the Iron Mask Queen Anne of AustriaTV Movie
Murder Most EnglishLucy Teatime4 episodes
Centre PlayAuntie Kathleen"Auntie Kathleen's Old Clothes"
1978 Armchair Thriller Sister Elizabeth"Quiet as a Nun"
The Devil's Crown Matilda2 episodes
Play for Today Mrs Hackett"A Touch of the Tiny Hacketts"
Play of the Month Lady Bountiful"The Beaux' Stratagem"
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Aunt Miranda
1979 BBC Television Shakespeare Mistress Quickly"The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, with the life and death of Henry surnamed Hotspur"
BBC Television Shakespeare Mistress Quickly"The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth, including his death and the coronation of King Henry the Fifth"
1983 The Mad Death Miss Stonecroftthree-part BBC television serial
The Home FrontMrs Place6 episodes
BBC Television Shakespeare First Witch"Macbeth"
Farmers ArmsMrs CassonTV Movie
1984 Weekend Playhouse Margaret"Winter Break"
Crown Court Angela Stacey"Oddball"
1985 Connie Bea10 episodes
Steaming Mrs Meadows
1986 Screen Two June Swift"Time After Time"
David Copperfield Betsey Trotwood 7 episodes
1987 Doctor Who Tilda"Paradise Towers"
The Secret World of Polly FlintGranny Porter3 episodes
London EmbassyMadge Cowrie"Tomb with a View"
1988 The Tenth Man Madame Mangeot
Little Dorrit Duchess
Worlds Beyond "Home"
Menace UnseenNorma Trisk3 episodes
The Return of the Antelope Mrs Henshaw"Travelling Companions"
1990 Jeeves and Wooster Aunt Dahlia Travers "The Hunger Strike", "Brinkley Manor"
Bergerac Karen Markham"In Love and War"
Back HomeLady Beatrice Langley
Theatre Night Old Woman"Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death"
Screen Two June Swift"Circles of Deceit"
The Fool
Antonia and Jane Therapist
1991 December Bride Martha Gilmartin
Lovejoy Mrs Jaglom"Bin Diving"
The New Statesman Beryl"Keeping Mum"
4 PlaySarah"Finding Sarah"
1992 Goodbye Cruel World Marjory3 episode
Growing RichMrs Baker2 episode
1993 The Riff Raff Element Granny GroganTV Movie
Splitting Heirs Mrs Bullock
Riders Granny MaxwellTV Movie
CASUAL+Y Carrie Springett"The Final Word"
Harnessing Peacocks Amy TremayneTV Movie
1994 Men of the World Mrs Daff3 episode
Honey for Tea Mary Harris2 episodes
1995PerformanceGrandmother"The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd"
1996The VetKath Paley"Stormy Weather" (final appearance)

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  1. Year of birth given as 1919,; accessed 30 January 2016.
  2. Some sources cite 17 July 1919.
  3. "Brenda Bruce". BFI. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Obituary: Brenda Bruce". The Independent. 22 February 1996.
  5. 1 2 "Brenda Bruce movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography". AllMovie. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  6. "Brenda Bruce".
  7. Jean Genet. "Production of The Balcony".
  8. Roberts, Philip (25 November 1999). The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage . Cambridge University Press. p.  91. ISBN   9780521479622. brenda bruce happy days.
  9. "DVD Verdict Review — Murder Most English". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  10. "Jeeves And Wooster".
  11. Campbell, Mark (24 March 2011). Doctor Who. ISBN   9781849018869.
  12. "Network ON AIR > Connie: The Complete Series". Archived from the original on 29 June 2015.
  13. "The Riff Raff Element". BBC. 25 March 1993. p. 104.
  14. Cotter, Robert Michael "Bobb" (10 January 2014). The Women of Hammer Horror. ISBN   9781476602011.
  15. "Honey for Tea [01/5/94]". BFI.
  16. "Society of Film and Television Arts Television Awards 1962".
  17. "BAFTA Awards".