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Brenda Bruce

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Subject: BBC Television Shakespeare, Connie (TV series), People from Prestwich, The Mad Death, Christopher Morahan
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Brenda Bruce

Brenda Bruce
Born 7 July 1919 (some sources cite 17 July 1919)
Prestwich, Lancashire, England
Died 19 February 1996(1996-02-19) (aged 76)
London, England
Occupation Actress
Spouse(s) Roy Rich (1946-1970; his death); two daughters (twins)
Clement McCallin (one adopted son deceased; died 1994)

Brenda Bruce (7 July 1919[1] – 19 February 1996) was a British actress.[1] She had a long and successful career in the theatre, radio, film and television.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Acting career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Death 4
  • Awards 5
  • Theatre 6
  • Radio 7
  • TV and filmography 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Bruce was born in Prestwich, Lancashire in 1919, and started her acting career as a teenager on stage as a chorus girl.[3]

Acting career

She was with the Birmingham Repertory Company (1936–39) and a long-time actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).[2] She was the RSC's resident Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, playing the role in 1964, 1968, 1975 and 1995.[4] She appeared as Irma in the RSC's production of Jean Genet's The Balcony in 1971.[5]

In the 1950s she appeared on television in many dramas, and in a chat show Rich and Rich with her husband.[3] She starred as Winnie in the 1962 British premiere of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days,[6] and in 1977 as Lucilla Edith Cavell Teatime in Murder Most English.[7]

Bruce played Aunt Dahlia in the 1990s production of Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.[8] Other roles include Tilda in the Doctor Who story "Paradise Towers",[9] Bea in the rag trade drama Connie[10] and in The Riff Raff Element.[11] In 1964, she played Mary Lewis in Nightmare.[12] In 1994, she starred in Honey for Tea, a short-lived sitcom.[13]

Personal life

She was married and widowed twice, first to television personality Roy Rich, with whom she had two daughters, and second to actor Clement McCallin, with whom she adopted a son. McCallin died in 1977, and her son died in 1994.[2]


She died in London on 19 February 1996 from undisclosed causes, aged 76. She was survived by her two daughters.[2]



Year Play Role Notes
1962 Happy Days Winnie Royal Court Theatre
Woman in a Dressing Gown The Vaudeville Theatre
1967 Little Murders Aldwych Theatre
1970 The Balcony Irma Aldwych Theatre
1980 Romeo and Juliet Nurse Royal Shakespeare Theatre


Year Play Role Notes
1965 Host Planet Earth Clare Stewart BBC Light Programme
1977 Cry God for Harry! Doll Tearsheet BBC Radio 4
1983 When the Wind Blows Hilda BBC Radio 4
1983 A Mad World, My Masters Courtesan's Mother BBC Radio 3
1986 Too Long an Autumn Maisie May BBC Radio 4
1992 The Boy with the Cart Mother BBC Radio 4
1993 A Perfect Spy Miss Dubber BBC Radio 4

TV and filmography

Film & Television
Year Title Role Notes
1938 Laugh with Me Rose Dinwiddy
The Wooing of Anne Hathaway Katharine Hathaway
1943 Millions Like Us Brenda
1945 They Came to a City One of couple on hillside
I Live in Grosvenor Square Girl in Guard's Van
1946 Night Boat to Dublin Lily Leggett
Piccadilly Incident Sally Benton
I See a Dark Stranger American Waitress
Carnival Maudie Chapman
1947 While the Sun Shines Mabel Crum
When the Bough Breaks Ruby Chapman
1948 My Brother's Keeper Winnie Foreman
1949 Marry Me! Brenda Delamere
Don't Ever Leave Me Miss Smith
1951 Two on the Tiles Janet Lawson
1953 The Final Test Cora
The Motorola Television Hour "Westward the Sun"
1954 Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents Emily "Man Who Heard Everything"
1958 Behind the Mask Elizabeth Fallon
Law and Disorder Mary
"Mary Britten, M.D. Mary Britten
1960 Peeping Tom Dora
1961 Sunday Night Theatre May Sommers "Nearer to Heaven"
Sunday Night Theatre Elaine "The Wrong Side of the Park"
1962 Armchair Theatre "Girl in a Bird Cage"
ITV Play of the Week Millie Crocker Harris "A Lily in Little India"
Zero One Sarah Elkinson "Stoneface"
The Winter's Tale Paulina
Sunday Night Theatre Ethel Gibbons "This Happy Breed"
1963 Armchair Theatre "The Monkey and the Mohawk"
Dr. Finlay's Casebook Bridie Bell "The Face Saver"
1964 Nightmare Mary Lewis
1965 The Uncle Addie Morton
Armchair Theatre Ellen "The Lodger"
Thirty-Minute Theatre Pat Pendleton "Give the Clown His Supper"
1966 The Wednesday Play Betty Bradshaw "Way Off Beat"
ITV Play of the Week Millie Crocker Harris "The Browning Version"
Knock on Any Door "The First Day of Spring"
Knock on Any Door "The Dear Ones"
1967 The Girl Miss Cashcart
The Wednesday Play Mollie "Death of a Teddy Bear"
Softly, Softly Hilda Berry "An Eye for an Eye"
1968 Sherlock Holmes Saunders "The Dancing Men"
Late Night Horror Mary Pearl "William and Mary"
The First Lady Mary Tunnicliffe "Mrs. Whatever"
The Gamblers Gertie "Give and Take"
1969 The Virgin Soldiers Nursing Sister
The Wednesday Play Ma "Happy"
1971 A Family at War Mrs Thomas "Happy Returns"
Budgie Janey Baib "Sunset Mansions or Whatever Happened to Janey Baib?"
1972 Country Matters Mrs Holland "The Mill"
Thirty-Minute Theatre The Wife "Not Counting the Savages"
The Man from Haven Mary Balfour
1973 Cheri Charlotte
That'll Be the Day Doreen
Play for Today Madge "Jingle Bells"
1974 Bedtime Stories Gertie "Hansel and Gretel"
Dial M for Murder (TV series) Kath "Recording Angel"
Alice Through the Looking Glass The White Queen
Swallows and Amazons Mrs Dixon
1975 All Creatures Great and Small Miss Harbottle
1976 Ubu roi Ma Ubu
Crown Court Angela Stacey "A Matter of Honour"
1977 Murder Most English Lucy Teatime
Centre Play Auntie Kathleen "Auntie Kathleen's Old Clothes"
The Man in the Iron Mask Queen Anne of Austria
1978 Armchair Thriller Sister Elizabeth "Quiet as a Nun"
The Devil's Crown Matilda
Play for Today Mrs Hackett "A Touch of the Tiny Hacketts"
Play of the Month Lady Bountiful "The Beaux' Stratagem"
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Aunt Miranda
1979 BBC Television Shakespeare Mistress Quickly "The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, with the life and death of Henry surnamed Hotspur"
BBC Television Shakespeare Mistress Quickly "The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth, including his death and the coronation of King Henry the Fift"
1983 The Mad Death Miss Stonecroft three-part BBC television serial
The Home Front Mrs Place
BBC Television Shakespeare First Witch "Macbeth"
Farmers Arms Mrs Casson
1984 Weekend Playhouse Margaret "Winter Break"
Crown Court Angela Stacey "Oddball"
1985 Connie Bea
Steaming Mrs Meadows
1986 Screen Two June Swift "Time After Time"
David Copperfield Betsey Trotwood
1987 Doctor Who Tilda "Paradise Towers"
The Secret World of Polly Flint Granny Porter
London Embassy Madge Cowrie "Tomb with a View"
1988 The Tenth Man Madame Mangeot
Little Dorrit Duchess
Worlds Beyond "Home"
Menace Unseen Norma Trisk
The Return of the Antelope Mrs Henshaw "Travelling Companions"
1990 Jeeves and Wooster Aunt Dahlia Travers "The Hunger Strike", "Brinkley Manor"
Bergerac Karen Markham "In Love And War"
Back Home Lady Beatrice Langley
Theatre Night Old Woman "Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death"
Screen Two June Swift "Circles of Deceit"
1991 The New Statesman Beryl "Keeping Mum"
Lovejoy Mrs Jaglom "Bin Diving"
December Bride Martha Gilmartin
Antonia and Jane Therapist
4 Play Sarah "Finding Sarah"
1992 Growing Rich Mrs Baker
Goodbye Cruel World Marjory
Harnessing Peacocks Amy Tremayne
1993 Splitting Heirs Mrs Bullock
Riders Granny Maxwell
The Riff Raff Element Granny Grogan
CASUAL+Y Carrie Springett "The Final Word"
1994 Men of the World Mrs Daff
Honey for Tea Mary Harris
1995 Performance Grandmother "The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd"
1996 The Vet Kath Paley "Stormy Weather"


  1. ^ a b Some sources cite 17 July 1919)
  2. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Brenda Bruce". The Independent. 
  3. ^ a b "Brenda Bruce movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Brenda Bruce". 
  5. ^ Jean Genet. "Production of The Balcony - Theatricalia". 
  6. ^ "The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage". 
  7. ^ "DVD Verdict Review - Murder Most English". Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Jeeves And Wooster". 
  9. ^ "Doctor Who". 
  10. ^ "Network ON AIR > Connie: The Complete Series:". 
  11. ^ "The Riff Raff Element". 
  12. ^ "The Women of Hammer Horror". 
  13. ^ "Honey for Tea [01/5/94]". BFI. 
  14. ^ "Society of Film and Television Arts Television Awards 1962". 
  15. ^ "BAFTA Awards". 

External links

  • Brenda Bruce at the Internet Movie Database
  • Performances in the Theatre Archive University of Bristol
  • Profile,
  • Brenda Bruce filmography,
  • Brenda Bruce obituary,
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