Grenfell in 1972
Joyce Irene Phipps
10 February 1910
|Died||30 November 1979 69) (aged|
|Occupation||Actress, comedian, satirist, monologist|
|Spouse(s)||Reggie Grenfell (m. 1929–1979, her death)|
Joyce Irene Grenfell, OBE (née Phipps; 10 February 1910 – 30 November 1979) was an English comedian, singer, actress, monologist, scriptwriter and producer. For her film appearances, she was cast in such roles as the gym mistress Miss Gossage in The Happiest Days of Your Life and Ruby Gates in the St Trinian's films.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
The Happiest Days of Your Life is a 1950 British comedy film directed by Frank Launder, based on the play by John Dighton. The two men also wrote the screenplay. It is one of a stable of classic British film comedies produced by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat for British Lion Film Corporation. The film was made on location and at Riverside Studios, London. In several respects, including some common casting, it was a precursor of the more anarchic St. Trinian's films of the 1950s.
Born in Montpelier Square in Knightsbridge, London, 59Joyce was the daughter of architect Paul Phipps (1880–1953), the grandson of Charles Paul Phipps and a second cousin of Ruth Draper. The Phipps family were wealthy clothiers, whose success gained them entry to the gentry of their native Wiltshire. Her mother was an American socialite, Nora Langhorne (1889–1955), one of five daughters of Chiswell Langhorne, an American railway millionaire. Nancy Astor, née Nancy Langhorne, was one of her maternal aunts, and had also married in England. Grenfell often visited her at Astor's home of Cliveden and later lived in a cottage on the estate (Parr's), a mile from the main house, in the early years of her marriage. :
Montpelier Square is a residential garden square located in London's Knightsbridge district, in the City of Westminster, SW7.
Knightsbridge is a residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. It is identified in the London Plan as one of two international retail centres in London, alongside the West End.
Charles Paul Phipps (1815–1880), of Chalcot House, Westbury, Wiltshire, was an English merchant in Brazil and later Conservative MP for Westbury (1869–1874) and High Sheriff of Wiltshire (1875).
Joyce Phipps had an upper middle class London childhood. Among her friends was Virginia Graham, with whom she kept up a lifelong correspondence.She attended the Francis Holland School in Central London, and the Claremont Fan Court School, in Esher, Surrey. She attended Mlle Ozanne's finishing school in Paris at the age of seventeen.
Virginia Margaret Graham (1910–1993) was a London-born English writer, critic and poet, whose humorous verses on Second World War subjects were republished in London by Persephone Books in 2000 as Consider the Years 1938–1946. She had a long correspondence with Joyce Grenfell, which was later published.
Francis Holland School is the name of two separate independent day schools for girls in central London, England, governed by the Francis Holland Schools Trust. The schools are located at Clarence Gate and at Graham Terrace.
Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.
In 1927, she met Reginald Pascoe Grenfell (1903–1993), a mining executive and later a lieutenant colonel in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, grandson of the 4th Earl Grey, ninth Governor General of Canada.They were married two years later at St Margaret's, Westminster and remained married until her death nearly 50 years later. They were unable to have children of their own.
The King's Royal Rifle Corps was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army that was originally raised in British North America as the Royal American Regiment during the phase of the Seven Years' War in North America known as 'The French and Indian War.' Subsequently numbered the 60th Regiment of Foot, the regiment served for more than 200 years throughout the British Empire. In 1958, the regiment joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Rifle Brigade in the Green Jackets Brigade and in 1966 the three regiments were formally amalgamated to become the Royal Green Jackets. The KRRC became the 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets. On the disbandment of the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets in 1992, the RGJ's KRRC battalion was redesignated as the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets, eventually becoming 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in 2007.
Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey was a British nobleman and politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the ninth since Canadian Confederation. He was a radical Liberal aristocrat, founder of the Society of Apostles, and Aricles Club and a member of a string of liberal high society clubs in London. An active and articulate campaigner in late Victorian England he was associated with many of the leading Imperialists seeking change.
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The person of the sovereign is shared equally both with the 15 other Commonwealth realms and the 10 provinces of Canada, but resides predominantly in her oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom. The Queen, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties. The commission is for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Beginning in 1959, it has also been traditional to rotate between anglophone and francophone officeholders—although many recent governors general have been bilingual. Once in office, the governor general maintains direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.
She made her stage debut in 1939 in the Little Revue. In 1942 she wrote what became her signature song, "I'm Going to See You Today".
During the Second World War, Grenfell toured North Africa, Southern Italy, the Middle East and India with her pianist Viola Tunnard, performing for British troops. In 1989, her wartime journals were published under the title The Time of My Life: Entertaining the Troops. Her singing and comedic talents on stage led to offers to appear in film comedies. Although she performed in a number of films, she continued with her musical recording career, producing a number of humorous albums as well as books.
North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. Others have limited it to the countries of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, a region that was known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by Arabs as the Maghreb. The most commonly accepted definition includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, the 6 countries that shape the top North of the African continent. Meanwhile, "North Africa", particularly when used in the term North Africa and the Middle East, often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb and Libya. Egypt, being also part of the Middle East, is often considered separately, due to being both North African and Middle Eastern at the same time.
Southern Italy or Mezzogiorno is a macroregion of Italy meant to broadly denote the southern half of the Italian state.
The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest Middle Eastern nation while Bahrain is the smallest. The corresponding adjective is Middle Eastern and the derived noun is Middle Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East beginning in the early 20th century.
As a writer at the BBC during and just after the war, she collaborated with Stephen Potter in writing the "How" series of 30 satirical programmes from How to Talk to Children to How to Listen, the latter being the first programme broadcast on the BBC Third Programme, on 29 September 1946. During the 1950s she made her name as a sidekick to such comedy greats as Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford in films such as The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) and the St Trinian's series. She was also a member of the influential Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting from 1960 to 1962. Her fame reached the United States and she appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show alongside Elvis Presley.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.
Stephen Meredith Potter was a British author best known for his parodies of self-help books, and their film and television derivatives.
The BBC Third Programme was a national radio service produced and broadcast by the BBC between 1946 and 1967. It first went on the air on 29 September 1946 and quickly became one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in Britain, playing a crucial role in disseminating the arts. It was the BBC's third national radio network, the other two being the Home Service and the Light Programme, principally devoted to light entertainment and music. The Third Programme was rebranded to BBC Radio 3 on 30 September 1967.
Grenfell is best remembered for her one-woman shows and monologues, in which she invented roles including a harassed nursery teacher with the catchphrase "George – don't do that". She gained attention as a result of her frequent appearances on the BBC's classical music quiz show, Face the Music . Although her humour appeared light and frilly on the surface, there was often a serious point to be made: the song "Three Brothers", for example, appears to recount the happy, busy life of a spinster in lightweight terms, but it essentially describes her willing slavery to her male siblings and their families.
Much of the music for Grenfell’s revues and shows was the result of a collaboration with the composers and pianists Richard Addinsell and William Blezard. From 1954 to 1974, Blezard composed Grenfell's songs and parodic operettas such as Freda and Eric. They performed on stage and television all over Britain, America and Australia. Although her singing career is best remembered for her self penned humorous songs she did also record standards such as Noël Coward songs "If Love Were All" and "The Party's Over Now".
Like her maternal aunt, Lady Astor, Grenfell was a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist, a religious organisation based on Christianity and spiritual healing.
Grenfell was taken ill in 1973 with an eye infection, which was subsequently diagnosed as cancer, although she was not told. The eye was removed and replaced with an artificial one. No one except those close to her was ever advised of this. She kept on performing and appearing on the BBC2 programme Face the Music. In October 1979, she became seriously ill and died just over a month later, on 30 November 1979, just before her golden wedding anniversary. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 4 December and her ashes placed in section 4-D of the Garden of Remembrance.
In February 1980, a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey, the first time such an honour had been granted to a comedian. Only Les Dawson, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett have been similarly honoured since.
Grenfell was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1946. It was confirmed after her death that she would have been made a Dame Commander (DBE) in the 1980 New Year Honours List. In 1998, the Royal Mail memorialised Grenfell with her image on a postage stamp as part of a series of stamps celebrating Heroes of Comedy.
Her widower husband, Reggie Grenfell, died in Kensington and Chelsea, London, in 1993, aged 89.
In 2002, her friend and author Janie Hampton published the book Joyce Grenfell. In a 2005 poll to find the Comedians' Comedian, she was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
Maureen Lipman has often toured with the one-woman show Re: Joyce!, which she co-wrote with James Roose-Evans. In it she recreates some of Grenfell's best-known sketches. Lipman also presented the radio programme Choice Grenfell , compiled from Grenfell's writings.Roose-Evans also edited Darling Ma, a 1997 collection of Grenfell's letters to her mother.
|1941||A Letter from Home||American Mother||Short|
|1943||The Demi-Paradise||Sybil Paulson|
|The Lamp Still Burns||Dr. Barrett|
|1947||While the Sun Shines||Daphne|
|1949||Alice in Wonderland||Ugly Duchess / Dormouse|
|Poet's Pub||Miss Horsefell-Hughes|
|Tuppence Coloured||TV movie|
|A Run for Your Money||Mrs. Pargiet|
|1950||Stage Fright||'Lovely Ducks'|
|The Happiest Days of Your Life||Miss Gossage|
|1951||The Galloping Major||Maggie the Waitress|
|Laughter in Paradise||Elizabeth Robson|
|The Magic Box||Mrs. Claire|
|1952||Penny Plain||TV movie|
|The Pickwick Papers||Mrs. Leo Hunter|
|The Million Pound Note||Duchess of Cromarty|
|1954||Forbidden Cargo||Lady Flavia Queensway|
|The Belles of St Trinian's||P.W. Sgt. Ruby Gates|
|1957||The Good Companions||Lady Parlitt|
|Blue Murder at St Trinian's||Sergeant Ruby Gates|
|1958||Happy Is the Bride||Aunt Florence|
|1960||The Pure Hell of St Trinian's||Sergeant Ruby Gates|
|1963||The Old Dark House||Agatha Femm|
|1964||The Americanization of Emily||Mrs. Barham|
|The Yellow Rolls-Royce||Hortense Astor|
Maureen Diane Lipman, is an English film, theatre and television actress, columnist and comedian.
St Trinian's was a British gag cartoon comic strip series, created and drawn by Ronald Searle from 1946 until 1952. The cartoons all centre on a boarding school for girls, where the teachers are sadists and the girls are juvenile delinquents. The series was Searle's most famous work and inspired a popular series of comedy films.
Sheila Cameron Hancock, is an English actress and author. Hancock trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before starting her career in repertory theatre. Hancock went on to perform in plays and musicals in London, and her Broadway debut in Entertaining Mr Sloane (1966) earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in Play. She won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her role in Cabaret (2007) and was nominated at the Laurence Olivier Awards four other times for her work in Sweeney Todd (1980), The Winter's Tale (1982), Prin (1989) and Sister Act (2010).
The Pure Hell of St Trinian's is a 1960 British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School. Directed by Frank Launder and written by him and Sidney Gilliat, it was the third in a series of four films.
The Belles of St Trinian's is a British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's school, released in 1954. It and its sequels were inspired by British cartoonist Ronald Searle. Directed by Frank Launder and written by Launder and Sidney Gilliat, it was the first of a series of four films.
Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957) is British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School. Directed by Frank Launder and written by him and Sidney Gilliat, it was the second of the series of four films. and stars Terry-Thomas, George Cole, Joyce Grenfell, Lionel Jeffries and Richard Wattis.
The Vaudeville Theatre is a West End theatre on the Strand in the City of Westminster. As the name suggests, the theatre held mostly vaudeville shows and musical revues in its early days. It opened in 1870 and was rebuilt twice, although each new building retained elements of the previous structure. The current building opened in 1926, and the capacity is now 690 seats. Rare thunder drum and lightning sheets, together with other early stage mechanisms, survive in the theatre.
Max Adrian was a Northern Irish stage, film and television actor and singer. He was a founding member of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
Daphne Margaret du Grivel Oxenford was an English actress, known for her early stage roles, and later her radio and television work. She was best known for her role as original character Esther Hayes in Coronation Street. Other roles included Mrs Plummer in Man About the House (1973), Alice Dutton in EastEnders (1990), and Mrs. Oldknow in the mini-series The Children of Green Knowe (1986). She was to appear in the 2008 Doctor Who TV episode The Unicorn and the Wasp as an elderly Agatha Christie. The scene was filmed, but was cut from the final broadcast version, though later included in the DVD release.
Montserrat Lombard is an English actress best known for playing WPC Sharon 'Shaz' Granger in the BBC Drama series Ashes to Ashes.
Janie Dee is an English actress and singer. She won the Olivier Award for Best Actress, Evening Standard Award and Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Play, and in New York the Obie and Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer, for her performance as Jacie Triplethree in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential.
Choice Grenfell was a short-lived radio programme that aired in March 1998. There were five twenty-minute episodes and it was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. It starred Maureen Lipman. The series was also recorded as an audio cassette by the BBC Radio Collection.
Colonel Chiswell Dabney Langhorne was an American railroad industrialist. He was the father of Nancy Witcher Langhorne and the maternal grandfather of both Joyce Grenfell and Michael Langhorne Astor.
James Roose-Evans is a British theatre director, priest, and writer on experimental theatre, ritual and meditation. In 1959 he founded the Hampstead Theatre Club, in London; in 1974 the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit, in mid-Wales; and in 2015 Frontier Theatre Productions. He is best known for directing the West End play, 84 Charing Cross Road.
Herbert Farjeon was a major figure in the British theatre from 1910 until his death. He was a presenter of revues in London's West End, a theatre critic, lyricist, librettist, playwright, theatre manager and researcher.
William Blezard was a talented pianist and composer who was musical director to Noël Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Joyce Grenfell.
Sigh No More is a musical revue consisting of twenty-two scenes and numbers composed, written and produced by Noël Coward, with additional items by Joyce Grenfell, Richard Addinsell and Norman Hackforth. The show was Coward's first post-World War II musical and starred Cyril Ritchard, his wife Madge Elliott and Joyce Grenfell. It also featured Graham Payn, Coward's longtime partner, who sang the best-known song in the show, the wistful "Matelot".
Sara Patricia Pascoe is an English comedian and actress. She has appeared on TV programmes such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown for Channel 4, and Taskmaster for digital channel Dave.
Janie Hampton is a British author, best known for her biography of Joyce Grenfell and social history books The Austerity Olympics, How the Girl Guides Won the War, and an international development and women’s health activist.
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