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Cicely Courtneidge

in 1930
Born Esmerelda Cicely Courtneidge
1 April 1893(1893-04-01)
Sydney, Australia
Died 26 April 1980 (aged 87)
United Kingdom
Occupation Actress, comedian
Spouse(s) Jack Hulbert

Dame Cicely Courtneidge DBE (1 April 1893 – 26 April 1980) was an English actress and comedienne.

Contents

Early life

Esmerelda Cicely Courtneidge was born in Sydney, Australia. She was the daughter of the Scottish producer Robert Courtneidge and granddaughter of Covent Garden opera singer Cicely Nott. Her mother was also an actress, and her three sisters were actresses, one of whom was Ada Blanche. Her first professional appearance was in her father's production, The Arcadians (1911), and later The Pearl Girl (1913), both at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Career

She starred in slapstick comedies like Falling for You (1933) and Soldiers of the King (1934), and she performed regularly on stage in the United Kingdom. She also gave performances in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1930s. In 1951 Ivor Novello wrote "Gay's The Word" specially for her and Lizbeth Webb and she was able to show her magnificent comedic skills with numbers such as 'Vitality'

She made many appearances in film, including in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965). She also played the role of "Mum" in the first series of the London Weekend Television comedy On the Buses, opposite Reg Varney and Anna Karen. Alongside Vic Oliver and her husband, Jack Hulbert, she appeared in the BBC radio sitcom Discord in Three Flats (1962). After a long career devoted entirely to comedy roles and revue sketches, she gave a touching dramatic performance in the film The L-Shaped Room as an elderly lesbian, wistfully recalling her career as a music-hall performer.She also received acclaim as Madame Arcati in the musical High Spirits, based on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.

Courtneidge was featured on a number of cigarette cards: Gallaher #37 - Cicely Courtneidge and Frank Atkinson in Me and Marlborough; Ardath, Film Stage & Radio Stars 1935; W.D & H.O Wills's #88 - Wills Famous Film Stars, 1934/35; and Godfrey Phillips #16 - Stars of British Films Australian Issue (1934). One of her last appearances was in a Royal Gala Performance at the Chichester Festival Theatre in June 1977, celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The performance was called God Save The Queen! and had an all-star cast, including Ingrid Bergman, Wendy Hiller, Flora Robson, Diana Rigg, Penelope Keith, Siân Phillips, Keith Michell, Alfred Marks and Courtneidge. The performance was attended by Princess Alexandra.

Personal life

She married comedian Jack Hulbert in 1916, and they were married for 62 years, until his death. She was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1951, and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1972.

She died shortly after her 87th birthday in 1980 in the United Kingdom from natural causes and was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium.

Theatre

Courtneidge appeared in the following works on stage:

  • Once More With Music - Theatre Royal Brighton - with Jack Hulbert - October 1976
  • Breath of Spring - Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, UK - with Jack Hulbert - May 1974
  • The Hollow - Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, UK - with Jack Hulbert - 1973
  • Move Over Mrs. Markham - Vaudeville Theatre, London - 17 March 1971
  • The Hollow - Theatre Royal, Brighton - with Jack Hulbert - 1970
  • Dear Octopus - Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1967 - with Richard Todd, Joyce Carey, Ursula Howells, Jack Hulbert
  • The Bride Comes Back - Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton - Edward Petherbridge, Robertson Hare, Jack Hulbert - 1961
  • The Bride Comes Back - Vaudeville Theatre Royal - with Jack Hulbert - 1960
  • The Bride and the Bachelor - Duchess Theatre, London - 1956
  • Gay's The Word - Saville Theatre, London - 1952
  • Her Excellency - London Hippodrome, 1949
  • Under the Counter - (Jo Fox) - Phoenix Theatre, 1946
  • Under Your Hat - 1938
  • Folly To Be Wise - Liverpool Empire, 24 August 1932 - presented by Jack Hulbert, music by Vivian Ellis
  • Lido Lady - London, 1926 - written by Rogers & Hart, co-starring Jack Hulbert
  • The Pearl Girl - Shaftsbury Theatre, 1913
  • The Arcadians (Chrysea) - Shaftsbury Theatre, 1911

Filmography

Discography

  • "Ali Baba's Camel" (written by Noel Gay) - His Master's Voice B 3984 recorded on 27 October 1931 1932
  • Gay's The Word. Ms Courtneidge recorded seven songs from the score on 16 December 1950.
  • High Spirits - Original London Cast - 1964

Further reading

  • Cecily - Autobiography. Published by Hutchinson, UK, 1953
  • The Little Woman's Always Right - by Jack Hulbert; W.H. Allen, London, 1975

External links








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