Thursday, 24 July 2014

Miss Showbusiness

And so farewell to the marvellous Miss Dora Bryan, comedienne, actress, singer and stalwart of British light entertainment for many decades.

Miss Bryan was probably most famous worldwide for her award-winning performance as the harridan mother in Tony Richardson's adaptation of Shelagh Delaney's gritty drama A Taste of Honey. Here's a great clip of Dora in full flood:

However, her showbiz career was hugely varied - from the aforementioned light entertainment of TV shows alongside the likes of Bruce Forsyth, radio episodes with Tony Hancock, parts in Ab Fab and Dinnerladies, and film series such as St Trinians and the Carry Ons, to (remarkably) serious dramas by Ibsen, Pinter, Shaw and Shakespeare.

She was the star of West End musicals such as Show Boat (with Dame Shirley Bassey! - a copy of the soundtrack of which we proudly hold in our collection alongside Dora's eponymously-named first album), Hello, Dolly!, Sondheim's Follies and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. From the latter, here she is singing Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend:

Dora was adored in the entertainment industry; so much so that that she was afforded a glittering star-studded West End charity fundraising gala in her name back in 2009. She even has an entire exhibition dedicated to her in the local museum close to her adopted Brighton home - and this footage from its launch is possibly the great lady's last public appearance:

Yet again - in what is turning into a bit of a bad week for losing treasured divas, following so closely as her death does after the loss of Stritchy - we mourn the fact that we will never see her like again. RIP, another important lady in our lives...

Dora May Broadbent OBE, known as Dora Bryan (7th February 1923 – 23rd July 2014)

Dora Bryan, Miss Showbusiness – A Celebration! runs at The Grange Art Gallery & Museum, Rottingdean, East Sussex until April 2015.

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