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Thora Hird Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (11)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (3)

Born in Morecambe, Lancashire, England, UK
Died in Brinsworth House, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK  (following a stroke)
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

In a career than spanned eight decades, Thora Hird was widely-regarded as one of Britain's finest character actresses. She made over 100 films as well as starring in a host of TV comedies and, as a straight actress, excelled in the works of playwright Alan Bennett. Even in her 90s, she was working almost daily.

Born in Morecambe, Lancashire, the daughter of the manager of the local Royalty Theatre, she was carried on to the stage in a melodrama at the age of eight weeks. When old enough, she joined the Royalty's theatre company, although she kept a day job as a cashier in a grocery store. "I spent 10 years working in that grocery store", she recalled, "and I've played nearly all the customers I used to serve - maids, landladies, cleaners, forthright parents. When I'm acting, I'll do some little thing I've remembered, so simple". At the theatre, she appeared in over 500 plays and, in 1941, the comedian George Formby, on a visit to the theatre, recommended her to Michael Balcon at Ealing Film Studios. Put under contract, she first appeared in Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942) with Will Hay and a string of comedy films and dramas followed. In the same vein as the saucy seaside postcards of her Morecambe birth, Hird was usually cast as the all-seeing boarding house landlady, a gossiping neighbour or a sharp tongued mother-in-law.

In the 1950s, Hird was under contract to the Rank Organisation and was established as a major character actress. She worked with some of Britain's finest directors, including Herbert Wilcox, Lewis Gilbert and John Schlesinger but, by her own account, was not easily awed. "I've appeared in hundreds of films and television things and, in some cases, I literally mean 'appeared' around the door, that was all. Like anybody earning a living, I took most of the work that came along". She gave outstanding performances in Simon and Laura (1955) and The Entertainer (1960), opposite Laurence Olivier, but one of her best- remembered roles was that of the monstrous TV-addicted mother in A Kind of Loving (1962).

As her career progressed, she frequently returned to the stage, often in comedies, with comedians such as Arthur Askey and Harry Secombe, and, in 1964, she was memorably team with the comedian Freddie Frinton in the TV series, Meet the Wife (1963). She starred in a succession of hit TV comedies throughout the 70s and 80s but proof of her talent as a straight actress came in 1987, when she starred in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologue, A Creamcracker under the Settee for which she won a BAFTA award. She wrote several volumes of autobiography, including "Scene and Hird" and "Not in the Diary" and, in 1995, was the subject of a South Bank Show (ITV) monograph. One of the show's contributors, the actor Alan Bates, said of her, "Thora always had a grasp of her character immediately. She didn't have to work herself into a state to get it right. She is a naturally funny woman whose comedy is on the edge of tragedy. It's instinctive and very understanding of life itself".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Patrick Newley

Spouse (1)

James Scott (3 May 1937 - 1994) ( his death) ( 1 child)

Trivia (11)

Mother of Janette Scott and thus ex-mother-in-law of Mel Tormé.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1983 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama and the DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1993 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.
For several years she was presenter of the BBC1 religious program "Your Songs Of Praise Choice" (later retitled Praise Be (1981)), from the mid-1970s.
Made guest appearances, during the 1990s, in such BBC programs as That's Showbusiness (1989) and One Foot in the Past (1993).
She was the subject of BBC1's "This Is Your Life" at Christmas 1996.
Grandmother of Daisy Tormé and James Tormé.
On 13 September 2013 a memorial plaque to her was unveiled in Morecambe near where she was born. It is outside the Eric Bartholomew pub, named in honour of Eric Morecambe whose real surname was Bartholomew and who was also born in the town.
Had an older brother Neville and an older sister Olga.
Daughter of James Henry Hird, former manager of the Royalty Theatre, Morecambe.
A memorial service was held for her at Westminster Abbey on 15 September 2003.
Made her stage debut in 1911 at the age of two months when she was carried on stage at the Royalty Theatre Morecambe in a play directed by her father, who was also the stage manager.

Personal Quotes (6)

[about being costumed] Always start with the feet.
[her thoughts on viewing Vice the Sex Trade: Policing the Streets (1998)] What made me laugh was when the interviewer called her a prostitute and she said: 'One minute, I'm not a prostitute,' as though she was doing something more honourable by putting a nappy on a fella and giving him his supper. 'Excuse me, I'm not a prostitute.' Such dignity. I thought: 'Dear God, you've offended the prostitutes.'"
[on visiting Beverly Hills] It's perfect for a holiday, but there's no corner shop. You know what I mean, luv, don't yer? They're very nice to me there, I must say. When they find out that I've played in the West End they say: 'Oh my Gaad.' Once, there was a director who thought of putting me in Bonanza, that show with thingummy [Lorne] Greene. I said: 'But my voice is Lancashire.' He said: 'That doesn't matter, we could have a cowboy whose mother comes from Lancashire.' What a laugh. From Lancashire.
I first went on stage when I was eight weeks old as the illegitimate child of the village maiden, who was played by my mother. I like to say that it was the only part I've ever got through influence.
[on working in Morecambe Co-op at the age of 17] I used to look at some of the customers and think, 'if I ever take up acting seriously, I'll play her.' I've played nearly all of them now. People say to me: 'That woman was so lifelike.' I say: 'She is, she lives in Morecambe.'
Until I got married, when I used to go out, my mother said good bye to me as though I was emigrating.

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