This article needs additional citations for verification .(January 2021)
Virginia Lilian Emmeline Compton-Mackenzie
18 September 1894
Fulham, London, England
|Died||12 December 1978 84) (aged|
(m. 1911;died 1913)
(m. 1914;died 1921)
(m. 1922;div. 1942)
(m. 1942;div. 1946)
|Relatives|| Compton Mackenzie (brother)|
Viola Compton (sister)
Edward Compton (father)
Henry Compton (grandfather)
Anthony Pelissier (son)
Virginia Lilian Emmeline Compton-Mackenzie, CBE ( // ; 18 September 1894 – 12 December 1978), known professionally as Fay Compton, was an English actress. She appeared in several films, and made many broadcasts, but was best known for her stage performances. She was known for her versatility, and appeared in Shakespeare, drawing room comedy, pantomime, modern drama, and classics such as Ibsen and Chekhov. In addition to performing in Britain, Compton appeared several times in the US, and toured Australia and New Zealand in a variety of stage plays.
Compton was born in Fulham, London, the sixth and youngest child and fourth daughter of Edward Compton (1854–1918), actor and manager (whose real surname was Mackenzie), and his wife, the actress Virginia Frances Bateman (1853–1940) daughter of the actor Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman, of Baltimore, US. One of her brothers became well known as the author Compton Mackenzie.
Compton made her first professional appearance in 1911 with the concert party The Follies under the leadership of H. G. Pelissier, her first husband, whom she married while still in her teens. The marriage was short-lived: Pelissier died in September 1913 at the age of 31, leaving his young widow with an infant son, who would become the producer and director Anthony Pelissier.In 1914, at Maidenhead, as Fay C. Pellissier, she married secondly the young singer Lauri de Frece.
In 1914 Compton made the first of many appearances on the American stage, at the Shubert Theatre, New York, in To-Night's the Night, subsequently touring in the same part. In London during the First World War she played a variety of roles, including the title role in Peter Pan in 1917.
In the 1920s her parts included the title role in J. M. Barrie's Mary Rose ; the first of many Shakespeare roles, Ophelia, to the Hamlet of John Barrymore.The critic James Agate wrote of her performance, "She was fragrant, wistful, and had a child's importunacy unmatched in my time." Compton's second husband, the actor Lauri de Frece, died in 1921, aged 41, and in February 1922 she married Leon Quartermaine, with whom she had acted in a revival of Barrie's Quality Street .
Compton had a reputation for versatility,and in 1931 she appeared successively in the title role of the pantomime Dick Whittington and Ophelia to Henry Ainley's Hamlet. Throughout the 1930s Compton moved between West End plays, mostly ephemeral, pantomime and Shakespeare – Titania, Lady Rosaline, Calpurnia, and Paulina in The Winter's Tale , one of her favourite parts – and toured in Australia and New Zealand in Victoria Regina , Tonight at 8.30 and George and Margaret . In 1939 she played Ophelia to the Hamlet of John Gielgud, first at the Lyceum and then at Elsinore Castle.
In 1927 Compton opened an acting school in London, the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, which continued in business up to the start of World War II. Notable alumni included Alec Guinness and John Le Mesurier.
During the 1940s Compton appeared at the Old Vic as Regan in King Lear , played Ruth in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit for 15 months, Regina in The Little Foxes , toured for the British Council, in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, in Othello, Candida and Hamlet, and made her first appearance in an Ibsen play as Gina Ekdal in The Wild Duck .Her third marriage was dissolved in 1942, and in that year she married the actor Ralph Michael; this marriage was dissolved in 1946. There were no children of Compton's last three marriages.
In the 1950s Compton rejoined the Old Vic company, appearing at the 1953 Edinburgh Festival, as Gertrude in Hamlet, and in London in the 1953–1954 season, as Gertrude; the Countess of Rossillion in All's Well That Ends Well ; Constance of Bretagne in King John ; Volumnia in Coriolanus ; and Juno in The Tempest .With the same company she played Queen Margaret in Richard III in 1957, to the Richard of Robert Helpmann, and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1959.
At the first Chichester Festival, from July to September 1962, Compton played Grausis in The Broken Heart, and Marya in Uncle Vanya .Her other stage roles of the 1960s included Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals , and her last Barrie role, the Comtesse in What Every Woman Knows .
Compton was awarded the CBE in 1975. She died on 12 December 1978 in London at the age of 84.
Compton's film work is not as well known as her stage appearances. She appeared in more than 40 films between 1914 and 1970. Her most popular performances in films are Odd Man Out (1947), Laughter in Paradise (1951), Orson Welles' Othello (1952), The Haunting (1963) and I Start Counting (1969).
Among her television performances, she appeared in 1965 with Michael Hordern in the television play Land of My Dreams by Clive Exton. Among her last major roles were Aunt Ann in the BBC's 1967 television adaptation of The Forsyte Saga ,and Mrs Brown the old rag dealer in a BBC adaptation of Dickens' Dombey and Son in 1969.
Dame Dorothy Tutin, was an English actress of stage, film and television. For her work in the theatre, she won two Olivier Awards and two Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress. She was made a CBE in 1967 and a Dame (DBE) in 2000.
Dame Janet Suzman, is a South African-born British actress who enjoyed a successful early career in the Royal Shakespeare Company, later replaying many Shakespearean roles, among others, on TV. In her first film, Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), her performance as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna earned her several honours, including a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Susan Hampshire, Lady Kulukundis, is an English actress known for her many television and film roles. A three-time Emmy Award winner, she won for The Forsyte Saga in 1970, The First Churchills in 1969, and for Vanity Fair in 1973. Her other television credits include The Pallisers (1974), The Grand (1997–98) and Monarch of the Glen (2000–2005).
Inga Swenson is an American retired actress and singer from Omaha, Nebraska, USA. She appeared in multiple Broadway productions and received two Tony nominations. She also spent seven years portraying Gretchen Kraus in the ABC comedy series Benson.
Martita Edith Hunt was an Argentine-born British theatre and film actress. She had a dominant stage presence and played a wide range of powerful characters. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Havisham in David Lean's Great Expectations.
Shani Wallis is a British actress and singer, who has worked in theatre, film, and television in both her native United Kingdom and in the United States. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she is perhaps best known for her roles in the West End, and for the role of Nancy in the 1968 Oscar-winning film musical Oliver!
Coral Edith Browne was an Australian-American stage and screen actress. Her extensive theatre credits included Broadway productions of Macbeth (1956), The Rehearsal (1963) and The Right Honourable Gentleman (1965). She won the 1984 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for the BBC TV film An Englishman Abroad (1983). Her film appearances included Auntie Mame (1958), The Killing of Sister George (1968), The Ruling Class (1972) and Dreamchild (1985). She was also actor Vincent Price's third wife.
Sophie Thompson is a British actress who has worked in film, television and theatre. A six-time Olivier Award nominee, she won the 1999 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the London revival of Into the Woods. Her other nominations were for Wildest Dreams (1994), Company (1996), Clybourne Park (2011) Guys and Dolls (2016) and 'Present Laughter' (2019).
Rosemary Ann Harris is an English actress. She is the recipient of such accolades as a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony Award, in addition to nominations for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. In 1986, Harris was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Matilda Alice Powles was an English music hall performer. She adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley and became one of the best-known male impersonators of her era. Her career lasted from 1869 until 1920. Starting in provincial theatres with her father as manager, she performed her first season in London in 1874. She typically performed as a dandy or fop, also playing other roles. She found additional success as a principal boy in pantomime.
Tracy Reed was an English actress.
Irene Rooke was an English theatre and film actress from Bridport, Dorset, England.
Pamela Margaret Stanley was a British actress who appeared in a number of stage and film roles in Britain and the United States; the role with which she became most identified with was that of Queen Victoria.
Ophelia is a character in William Shakespeare's drama Hamlet (1599-1601). She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes and potential wife of Prince Hamlet, who, due to Hamlet's actions, ends up in a state of madness that ultimately leads to her drowning.
Marjorie Lee Eaton was an American painter, photographer and character actress who physically portrayed Emperor Palpatine in the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, though her face was masked and her voice dubbed. The 2004 DVD release of the film had her replaced by the best-known portrayer of the character, Ian McDiarmid.
Dombey and Son is a 1969 English drama serial directed by Joan Craft based on the 1848 novel by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of a wealthy shipping business owner who, after the death of his wife and only son intended to take over the business, neglects his daughter, only to reconcile with her shortly before his own death.
Lauri de Frece was an English actor and singer who appeared in musical theatre and in films of the silent era. His original name was Maurice de Frece.
Edward Compton was an actor and actor-manager of the Victorian era who enjoyed considerable success in touring the English provinces with plays by Shakespeare, Sheridan and Goldsmith but who met with failure while trying to break into the West End theatre.
Virginia Frances Bateman was an American actress and actor-manager who performed with her husband Edward Compton in his Compton Comedy Company which toured the provinces of the United Kingdom from 1881 to 1923. On her husband's death in 1918 she ran the Company. She founded the Theatre Girls' Club.
Mary Sally Home, born in Southsea, was a British actress whose career encompassed stage, television and radio.