Joyce Carey

Last updated

Joyce Carey

OBE
Actress Joyce Carey.jpg
Carey as Myrtle in Brief Encounter , 1945
Born
Joyce Lilian Lawrence

(1898-03-30)30 March 1898
Kensington, London, England
Died28 February 1993(1993-02-28) (aged 94)
Westminster, London, England
OccupationActress
Years active1916–1988
Parent(s) Gerald Lawrence
Lilian Braithwaite

Joyce Carey, OBE (30 March 1898 – 28 February 1993) was an English actress, best known for her long professional and personal relationship with Noël Coward. Her stage career lasted from 1916 until 1987, and she was performing on television in her 90s. Although never a star, she was a familiar face both on stage and screen. In addition to light comedy, she had a large repertory of Shakespearean roles.

Contents

Career

Joyce Carey (seated right) as Arabella Barrett in the original Broadway production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1931) Barretts-of-Wimpole-Street-3.jpg
Joyce Carey (seated right) as Arabella Barrett in the original Broadway production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1931)

Joyce Carey was born Joyce Lilian Lawrence, the daughter of actor Gerald Lawrence, a matinée idol who had been a juvenile in Henry Irving's Shakespeare company, and his wife, actress Lilian Braithwaite, [1] a major West End star. [2] Carey was educated at the Florence Etlinger Dramatic School. [1]

Carey made her stage debut in 1916, aged 18, as Princess Katherine in an all-female production of Henry V . She joined Sir George Alexander's company at the St James's Theatre playing Jacqueline, a French countess, in The Aristocrat. After a succession of West End roles in light comedy, Carey took on further Shakespearean parts, appearing at Stratford-upon-Avon as Anne Page, Perdita, Titania, Miranda and Juliet. Over the next few years she added Hermia, Celia and Olivia to her Shakespearean repertoire, in between regular appearance in West End comedies. [1]

Her first appearance in a Noël Coward play was as Sarah Hurst in Easy Virtue in New York in 1926. [1] For most of the following seven years, her career was chiefly in New York, following a great success in The Road to Rome in 1927. [2] In 1934 she wrote (pseudonymously), and acted a supporting role in, a comedy, Sweet Aloes, which ran in London for more than a year. [1] In 1936 she resumed her connection with Coward, playing a series of character roles in his cycle of short plays, Tonight at 8.30 in London and New York. [1] In 1938 she starred in the comedy play Spring Meeting in the West End.

During the Second World War, Carey toured with John Gielgud for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) bringing theatre to members of the armed forces at home and abroad, recreating some of her roles from Tonight at 8.30. In 1942 she rejoined Coward to tour in his three newest plays, This Happy Breed as Sylvia, Blithe Spirit as Ruth, and Present Laughter as Liz – a character based partly on the actress herself. [3] She later played all three roles in London. After the war she played in new Coward plays, Quadrille (with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne) and Nude with Violin (with Gielgud in London and Coward in New York). [1] [2]

The Times stated of her film work: "One role in a film written by Coward will remain always in the memory: with haughty disdain and an accent of fearful gentility Carey was the manageress of the station buffet in Brief Encounter , who froze her customers and slapped down attempts at familiarity from Stanley Holloway's ticket collector." [2] Carey's other Coward film roles were the petty officer's wife in In Which We Serve and Mrs Bradman in Blithe Spirit . Her other films included The Way to the Stars and Cry the Beloved Country . [1] [2]

Between 1976 and 1979, Carey starred in the popular series The Cedar Tree . [4] Her last stage performance was in 1984, as Mrs Higgins in Pygmalion , opposite Peter O'Toole; [2] [5] the critic Michael Coveney described her performance as plaintive and touching. [6] She continued working on screen into her nineties, attracting enthusiastic notices for her portrayal of a frail old lady faced with eviction in Michael Palin's BBC play No 27. [2]

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1985 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at London's Waldorf Hotel.[ citation needed ]

Critical opinion and personal life

The Times commented in its obituary of Carey:

Without ever becoming a big star, Joyce Carey was a graceful and distinctive actress whose performances consistently added lustre to the productions in which she appeared. Slight in build, with a wide-eyed and wistful face, she looked vulnerable and had a social poise that secured her many aristocratic roles among them Wilde's Lady Markby and the Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax. In private life her quiet, amusing personality endeared her to many people, notably Noel Coward and she became part of "the Master's" private world. [2]

Carey was awarded the OBE in 1982. She never married: she enjoyed the enduring friendship of Coward's adopted "family". [2] When Coward received his knighthood in 1970, Carey, along with the costume designer Gladys Calthrop, accompanied him to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace. [7] She died in London, aged 94. [2]

Selected filmography

Film

Television

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Margaret Rutherford</span> British character actress (1892–1972)

Dame Margaret Taylor Rutherford, was an English actress of stage, television and film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lynn Fontanne</span> English actress

Lynn Fontanne was an English actress. After early success in supporting roles in the West End, she met the American actor Alfred Lunt, whom she married in 1922 and with whom she co-starred in Broadway and West End productions over the next four decades. They became known as "The Lunts", and were celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diana Wynyard</span> English stage and film actress

Diana Wynyard, CBE was an English stage and film actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edith Evans</span> English actress (1888–1976)

Dame Edith Mary Evans, was an English actress. She was best known for her work on the stage, but also appeared in films at the beginning and towards the end of her career. Between 1964 and 1968, she was nominated for three Academy Awards.

<i>Blithe Spirit</i> (play) Play written by Noël Coward

Blithe Spirit is a comic play by Noël Coward, described by the author as "an improbable farce in three acts". The play concerns the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his wilful and temperamental first wife, Elvira, after the séance. Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles's marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost.

<i>Present Laughter</i> Play written by Noël Coward

Present Laughter is a comic play written by Noël Coward in 1939 but not produced until 1942 because the Second World War began while it was in rehearsal, and the British theatres closed. The title is drawn from a song in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that urges carpe diem. The play has been frequently revived in Britain, the US and beyond.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sybil Thorndike</span> British actress

Dame Agnes Sybil Thorndike, Lady Casson was an English actress whose stage career lasted from 1904 to 1969.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alison Steadman</span> British actress

Alison Steadman is an English actress. She received the 1991 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for the Mike Leigh film Life Is Sweet and the 1993 Olivier Award for Best Actress for her role as Mari in the original production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. In a 2007 Channel 4 poll, the ‘50 Greatest Actors’ voted for by other actors, she was ranked 42.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gwen Watford</span> English actress

Gwendoline Watford, professionally known after the mid-1950s as Gwen Watford, was an English actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irene Worth</span> American actress

Irene Worth, CBE was an American stage and screen actress who became one of the leading stars of the British and American theatre. She pronounced her given name with three syllables: "I-REE-nee".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Violet Vanbrugh</span> British actress (1867–1942)

Violet Vanbrugh, born Violet Augusta Mary Barnes, was an English actress with a career that spanned more than 50 years. Despite her many successes, her career was overshadowed by that of her more famous sister, Dame Irene Vanbrugh.

<i>Blithe Spirit</i> (1945 film) 1945 British film

Blithe Spirit is a 1945 British fantasy-comedy film directed by David Lean. The screenplay by Lean, cinematographer Ronald Neame and associate producer Anthony Havelock-Allan, is based on actor/director/producer and playwright Noël Coward's 1941 play of the same name, the title of which is derived from the line "Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert" in the poem "To a Skylark" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The song, "Always", written by Irving Berlin, is an important plot element in "Blithe Spirit".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judy Campbell</span> English actress (1916–2004)

Judy Campbell was an English film, television and stage actress, widely known to be Noël Coward's muse. Her daughter is the actress and singer Jane Birkin, her son the screenwriter and director Andrew Birkin, and among her grandchildren are the actresses Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, the late poet Anno Birkin, the artist David Birkin and the late photographer Kate Barry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noël Coward</span> English playwright, composer, director, actor, and singer (1899–1973)

Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor, and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marie Lohr</span> Australian actress (1890–1975)

Marie Lohr was an Australian-born actress, active on stage and in film in Britain. During a career of more than 60 years she created roles in plays by, among others, Bernard Shaw, J. M. Barrie, Frederick Lonsdale, Somerset Maugham, William Douglas-Home and Noël Coward. She appeared mainly in the West End, but toured the British provinces at intervals throughout her career, appeared in Broadway productions and toured Canada.

<i>Hands Across the Sea</i> (play)

Hands Across the Sea, described by the author as "a comedy of bad manners", is a one-act play by Noël Coward, one of ten that make up Tonight at 8.30, a cycle written to be performed across three evenings. One-act plays were unfashionable in the 1920s and 30s, but Coward was fond of the genre and conceived the idea of a set of short pieces to be played across several evenings. The actress most closely associated with him was Gertrude Lawrence, and he wrote the plays as vehicles for them both.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marda Vanne</span>

Marda "Scrappy" Vanne was a South African actress who found fame in London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beryl Measor</span> British actress (1908–1965)

Beryl Measor was a British actress. She created roles in plays by Noël Coward and Terence Rattigan. In addition to her stage career she broadcast frequently on BBC radio and television, and appeared in several cinema films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moya Nugent</span> British actress and singer

Moya Nugent was a British actress and singer. She made a few broadcasts and three silent films but was chiefly known as a stage performer, and was particularly associated with the works of Noël Coward, appearing in twelve of his plays and two of his revues. Before that, she appeared early in her career in Peter Pan, and was cast in other children's plays and pantomimes. She was in the West End casts of revues by Cole Porter and others, and in musical comedies such as Lilac Time.

Weatherwise is a short comedy in two scenes by Noël Coward. It was written in 1923 and first produced at the Festival Theatre, Malvern in 1932.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Gaye, pp 426–427
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Obituary", The Times, 3 March 1993, p. 17
  3. Hoare, p. 294
  4. "The Cedar Tree", WorldCat, accessed 27 December 2014
  5. Wardle, Irving. "Pygmalion", The Times, 17 May 1984, p. 9
  6. Coveney, Michael. "Pygmalion/Shaftesbury", Financial Times , 16 May 1984, p. 15
  7. Lesley pp. 428-29

Sources