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Coral Browne
Born Coralie Edith Brown
23 July 1913(1913-07-23)
Melbourne, Australia
Died 29 May 1991 (aged 77)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actress
Years active 1933-1958
Spouse(s) Philip Pearman (1950-1964)
Vincent Price (1974-1991)

Coral Browne (23 July 1913 - 29 May 1991) was an Australian stage and screen actress.



She was born Coralie Edith Brown, the only daughter of a restaurant-owner, in Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, where she studied at the National Gallery Art School. Her amateur debut was as Gloria in Shaw's You Never Can Tell directed by Frank D Clewlow. Gregan McMahon snapped her up for her professional debut as Margaret Orme in Loyalties at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre on 2 May 1931 (she was still billed as "Brown", the "e" being added in 1936).[1]

At the age of 21 she migrated to England, where she became established as a stage actress. She began film acting in 1936, with her more famous roles being Vera Charles in Auntie Mame (1958), Mercy Croft in The Killing of Sister George (1968), and Lady Claire Gurney in The Ruling Class (1972).

In 1969, Browne appeared in the poorly received original production of Joe Orton's controversial farce What the Butler Saw in the West End at the Queen's Theatre with Sir Ralph Richardson, Stanley Baxter, and Hayward Morse.

While touring the Soviet Union in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet in 1958, she met spy Guy Burgess.[2] This meeting became the basis of Alan Bennett's script for the television movie An Englishman Abroad (1983) in which Browne played herself, apparently including some of her conversations with Burgess. Burgess who had found solace in his exile by continually playing the music of Jack Buchanan, asked Coral Browne if she had known him. "I suppose so", the actress replied, "we nearly got married". Her other notable film of this period, Dreamchild (1986) concerned the author Lewis Carroll. In the film, Browne gave an affecting account of the later life of Alice Liddell who had inspired the tale Alice in Wonderland.

Personal life

She married actor Philip Pearman in 1950; he died in 1964. She also allegedly conducted affairs with Firth Shephard, Jack Buchanan, Maurice Chevalier, Michael Hordern, and costume designer Cecil Beaton, as well as affairs with women.[3] While making the film Theatre of Blood (1973), she met actor Vincent Price, and they married on 24 October 1974.

She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1987 as a gift to Price, in exchange for which he converted to Roman Catholicism as a gift to her (she had converted many years previously).

She died in Los Angeles, California of breast cancer at the age of 77. There were no children from either marriage.


She is the subject of a biography The Coral Browne Story: Theatrical Life and Times of a Lustrous Australian by Barbara Angell.[4] This was published May 2007 and launched at the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, on 14 June of that year. Coral Browne: 'This Effing Lady', by Rose Collis, published by Oberon Books, was launched at the Royal National Theatre, 4 October 2007.[5]


  1. ^ Stars of Australian Stage and Screen Hal Porter, Rigby Ltd. Adelaide 1965
  2. ^ Alan Bennett gives the date of her meeting with Burgess as 1958 in the introduction to his Single Spies, which contains the text of An Englishman Abroad as a stage play and the text of A Question of Attribution about Anthony Blunt. Single Spies, London, Faber, 1989, ISBN 0-571-14105-6.
  3. ^ Bi Community News online
  4. ^ Barbara Angell at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Daily Telegraph review of This Effing Lady, 1 December 2007


  • Coral Browne: 'This Effing Lady', by Rose Collis, Oberon Books, ISBN 9781840027648
  • The Coral Browne Story by Barbara Angell, ISBN 978 0 646 47322 2.[1]
  • Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography by Victoria Price, ISBN 0-312-26789-4.
  • Who's Who, 1991, St. Martin's Press, 1991, p. 241.
  • Variety, 3 June 1991, p. 69.
  • The Daily Telegraph - Obituaries (31 May 1991)

External links



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