Wendy Toye

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Wendy Toye
Born(1917-05-01)1 May 1917
London, England
Died27 February 2010(2010-02-27) (aged 92)
London, England
OccupationDancer, choreographer, actress; film, television and stage director
Years active1929–1997
Spouse(s)Edward Selwyn Sharp

Beryl May Jessie Toye, CBE (1 May 1917 – 27 February 2010), known professionally as Wendy Toye, was a British dancer, stage and film director and actress. [1] [2] [3]


Life and career

Toye was born in London. She initially worked as a dancer and choreographer both on stage and on film, collaborating with the likes of directors Jean Cocteau and Carol Reed. She directed the original production of Bless the Bride in 1947.

Toye's debut film short, The Stranger Left No Card (1952), won the Best Fictional Short Film prize at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, while her Christmas-themed short On the Twelfth Day… (1955) received an Oscar nomination in the Best Short Subject category. She directed films from the early 1950s until the early 1980s. Toye also was an advisor to the Arts Council and lectured in Australia. [4]

She was attacked and robbed in her maisonette in Westminster on 27 November 1956. Two men stole jewellery and money. [5]

On 6 January 1958, she appeared as Roy Plomley's guest on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs . Her choices were wide-ranging, including Bach, Mahler and Lena Horne. [6] She was the head of the jury at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival in 1963. [7]

Among the many charities supported by Toye were the Theatrical Guild (formerly the Theatrical Ladies' Guild), where she helped backstage and front-of-house staff, and became president, and the Actors' Charitable Trust, to which she was recruited by Noël Coward, and of which she was vice president.

Toye married Edward Selwyn Sharp in 1940; they divorced in 1950. [8]

Wendy Toye collaborated with the cartoonist and illustrator Ronald Searle on the films On The Twelfth Day (1955) and The King’s Breakfast (1963). Searle designed the decor & costumes and painted the sets. [9] They first worked together on a stage play Wild Thyme (1955). Douglas Webb was the stills photographer on The King’s Breakfast. [9]

She was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, and appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992 for services to the arts. [10] She was made an honorary D. Litt. in 1996 by the City University. [11] Toye was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1991, when she was surprised by Michael Aspel at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.[ citation needed ]

She died on 27 February 2010 at Hillingdon Hospital, Greater London. [4]

She refused to write or authorise a biography during her lifetime, in spite of encouragement by her friends and family. Her theatrical archive is mostly in the Wendy Toye Archive, V&A Theatre & Performance Department, THM/343 of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with some items in the University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

Selected work

This list is a collation from three biographical dictionaries, an obituary [11] [12] [13] [14] and the information web sites from some of the theatres.

Early career

Dancer, choreographer and actress

Stage director


  • Big Ben, Bless the Bride, Tough at the Top (Adelphi for C.B. Cochrane), 1946
  • And So to Bed (New), 1951
  • Second Threshold (Vaudeville), 1950s???
  • Wild Thyme (Duke of York's), 1955
  • Lady at the Wheel (Lyric, Hammersmith), 1958
  • As You Like It (Old Vic), 1959
  • Majority of One (Phoenix), 1960
  • Virtue in Danger (Mermaid and Strand), 1963
  • Robert & Elizabeth (Lyric), 1964
  • On the Level (Saville), 1966
  • Show Boat (Adelphi), 1971
  • She Stoops to Conquer (Young Vic), 1972
  • Soldiers Tale (Young Vic & Edinburgh Festival), 1967
  • The Great Waltz (Drury Lane), 1970
  • Cowardy Custard (Mermaid), 1972
  • Stand and Deliver (Roundhouse), 1972
  • The Englishman Amused (Young Vic), 1974
  • Follow the Star (Westminster). 1976
  • Oh Mr. Porter (Mermaid), 1977
  • Colette (Comedy), 1980
  • This Thing Called Love (Ambassadors), 1984
  • Barnum (Victoria Palace) (assoc producer) 1985
  • Singin' in the Rain (London Palladium) (assoc producer), 1983
  • Get the Message (Molecule), 1987
  • Ziegfeld (London Palladium), 1988
  • Family and Friends (Sadler's Wells), 1988
  • Till We Meet Again concert (Royal Festival Hall), 1989
  • Captain Beaky's Heavens Up (Palace), 1990
  • The Sound of Music (Sadler's Wells), 1992
  • Under Their Hats (King's Head), 1994
  • Gala (last night of old Sadler's Wells Theatre), 1996

Chichester Festival

  • R loves J, 1973
  • The Confederacy, 1974
  • Follow the Star, 1974
  • Made in Heaven, 1975
  • Make Me a World, 1976
  • Miranda, 1987

Watermill Theatre, Newbury

  • Gingerbread Man, 1981
  • Songbook, 1988
  • Moll Flanders, 1990
  • The Drummer, 1991
  • See How They Run, 1992
  • The Anastasia File, 1994
  • Lloyd George Knew My Father , 1995
  • Warts and All, Rogues to Riches, 1996
  • 30 Not Out, 1997

Other UK

  • Boots with Strawberry Jam (Nottingham Playhouse), 1968
  • Once More with Music (Theatre Royal, Brighton), 1976
  • Barnum (Manchester Opera House) (assoc producer), 1984
  • Laburnum Grove (Watford Palace), 1987
  • Mrs. Dot (Watford Palace), 1988
  • Cinderella (Watford Palace), 1989
  • Penny Black (Wavendon), 1990
  • Mrs. Pat's Profession (workshop with Cleo Laine), 1991

Unknown location

  • Dance for Gods, Conversations (??Stephenville), 1979
  • Gala tribute to Joyce Grenfell, 1985


  • Feu d'artifice, Marigny Theatre, Paris (co-director and choreographer), date unknown
  • Peter Pan, (Imperial, New York) (co-director and choreographer), 1950
  • Shakespeare Quatercentenary Latin American tour, 1964
  • Noel and Gertie (Princess Grace Theatre Monte Carlo), 1984
  • Celimar (Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada), 1984
  • Madwoman of Chaillot (Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada), 1985
  • Torville & Dean Ice Show World Tour (assoc producer), 1985
  • Kiss Me Kate (Aarhus & Copenhagen), 1986
  • Unholy Trinity (Stephenville Festival), 1986
  • When That I Was (Manitoba Theater Center), 1988
  • Oh! Coward (Playhouse Hong Kong), 1989
  • The Kingfisher (Vienna English Theatre), 1993
  • The Sound of Music (Vienna English Theatre), 1993
  • Under Their Hats (Vienna English Theatre), 1995


Sadler's Wells Opera/ENO

  • Bluebeard's Castle, 1957
  • The Telephone, 1957
  • Russalka, 1959
  • Die Fledermaus, 1959
  • Orpheus in the Underworld, 1960
  • La Vie Parisienne, 1961
  • The Italian Girl in Algiers, 1968

ENO North

  • La Cenerentola, The Merry Widow, 1979
  • Orpheus in the Underworld, 1981





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  1. Obituary The Times , 1 March 2010.
  2. Obituary London Guardian , 1 March 2010.
  3. Obituary London Independent , 2 March 2010.
  4. 1 2 "British film-maker Wendy Toye dies aged 92". BBC News Online . 28 February 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  5. "Miss W. Toye attacked and robbed". The Times. No. 53701. London. 29 November 1956. col A, p. 7.
  6. "BBC - Desert Island Discs - Castaway: Wendy Toye".
  7. "Berlinale: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  8. "Decree Nisi Against Miss Wendy Toye". The Times. No. 51634. London. 8 March 1950. col D, p. 3.
  9. 1 2 "The King's Breakfast". Pamela Green: Never Knowingly Overdressed.
  10. "No. 52952". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1992. p. 9.
  11. 1 2 Who's Who 2010 Page 2316
  12. Debrett's People of Today 2010
  13. The International Who's Who 2004
  14. 1 2 3 Clarke, Mary (April 2010). "Obituary". Dancing Times. London. 100 (1196): 82.
  15. Programme in Bristol University Theatre Collection