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Tessie O'Shea
Born Teresa O'Shea
13 March 1913(1913-03-13)
Cardiff, Wales
Died 21 April 1995 (aged 82)
Leesburg, Florida, USA
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) David Rollo

Teresa “Tessie” O'Shea (13 March 1913 – 21 April 1995) was a Welsh entertainer and actress.

Born in Cardiff, O'Shea was brought up in the tradition of British music hall, appearing on stage as "The Wonder of Wales", beside her cousin Adam Dionne, as early as the age of six. By her teens she was a pro known for her popular BBC Radio broadcasts and appearing on stages in places as far afield as South Africa. She frequently finished her act by accompanying herself on the banjolele.

While appearing in Blackpool in the 1930s, O'Shea capitalised on her bulk and girth by adopting "Two Ton Tessie from Tennessee" as her theme song. A decade later she was a frequent headliner at the London Palladium, and following the decline of variety theatre, she established herself as a hit recording artist in the late 1950s.

In 1963, Noël Coward created the role of fish and chips peddler "Ada Cockle" specifically for her in his Broadway musical, The Girl Who Came to Supper. Her rendition of traditional Cockney tunes charmed the critics and helped win her a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

In 1964, O'Shea was a guest on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sharing the bill were the Beatles, and their appearance, which drew the largest audience in the history of American television at the time, helped bring O'Shea to the attention of the viewing public. She was a member of the regular repertory company on the short-lived CBS variety show The Entertainers (1964-65). In 1968, she was cast in the television movie The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama.

O'Shea starred in the short-lived British sitcom As Good Cooks Go in 1969 and 1970. On the big screen she appeared in London Town, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The Blue Lamp, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks with Angela Lansbury.

O'Shea died of congestive heart failure in Leesburg, Florida, USA aged 82.

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