Nora Noel Jill Bennett
24 December 1931
Penang, Straits Settlements
|Died||4 October 1990 (aged 58)|
Kensington, London, England
Nora Noel Jill Bennett (24 December 1931 – 4 October 1990) was a British actress.
Bennett was born in Penang, the Straits Settlements, to British parents, educated at Prior's Field School, an independent girls boarding school in Godalming, and trained at RADA. She made her West End debut in Now Barabbas in March 1947, was a company member during the 1949 season at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, and made her first film, The Long Dark Hall with Rex Harrison, in 1950.
Bennett made many appearances in British films including Lust for Life (1956), The Criminal (1960), The Nanny (1965), The Skull (1965), Inadmissible Evidence (1968), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Julius Caesar (1970), I Want What I Want (1972), Mister Quilp (1975), Full Circle (1977) and Britannia Hospital (1982). She also appeared in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), Lady Jane (1986) and Hawks (1988). Her final film performance was in The Sheltering Sky (1990).
She made forays into television, such as roles in Play for Today (Country, 1981), with Wendy Hiller, and as the colourful Lady Grace Fanner in John Mortimer's adaptation of his own novel, Paradise Postponed (1985). In 1984 she co-wrote and starred in the sitcom Poor Little Rich Girls alongside Maria Aitken. Among several roles, Osborne wrote the character of Annie in his play The Hotel in Amsterdam (1968) for her. But Bennett's busy schedule prevented her from playing the role until it was screened on television in 1971.
She co-starred with Rachel Roberts in the Alan Bennett television play The Old Crowd (1979), directed by Lindsay Anderson.
Bennett was the live-in companion of actor Godfrey Tearle in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was married to screenwriter Willis Hall and later to John Osborne. Bennett and Osborne divorced, acrimoniously, in 1978. She had no children.
Bennett died by suicide in October 1990, aged 58, having long suffered from depression and the brutalising effects of her marriage to Osborne (according to Osborne's biographer). She did this by taking an overdose of Quinalbarbitone Her death took place at home, 23 Gloucester Walk, Kensington, London W8, and she left an estate valued at £596,978.
Osborne, who was subject during her life to a restraining order regarding written comments about her, immediately wrote a vituperative chapter about her to be added to the second volume of his autobiography. The chapter, in which he rejoiced at her death, caused great controversy.
In 1992, Bennett's ashes, along with those of her friend, the actress Rachel Roberts (who also died by suicide, in 1980), were scattered by their friend Lindsay Anderson on the waters of the River Thames in London. Anderson, with several of the two actresses' professional colleagues and friends, took a boat trip down the Thames, and the ashes were scattered while musician Alan Price sang the song "Is That All There Is?" The event was included in Anderson's autobiographical BBC documentary Is That All There Is? (1992).
|1951||The Long Dark Hall||First Murdered Girl|
|1953||The Nine Days' Wonder||Miss Smith||TV film|
|The Pleasure Garden||Miss Kellerman||Short|
|1954||Hell Below Zero||Gerda Petersen|
|Aunt Clara||Julie Mason|
|1955||Murder Anonymous||Mrs. Sheldon||Short|
|1956||The Anatomist||Mary Belle||TV film|
|The Extra Day||Susan|
|Lust for Life||Willemien|
|1957||Peace and Quiet||Josephine Elliott||TV film|
|1959||A Glimpse of the Sea||Penelope Belford||TV film|
|1960||Return to the Sea||TV film|
|1965||The Skull||Jane Maitland|
|The Nanny||Aunt Pen|
|1968||The Charge of the Light Brigade||Mrs. Duberly|
|Inadmissible Evidence||Liz Eaves|
|1971||Speaking of Murder||Annabelle Logan||TV film|
|1972||I Want What I Want||Margaret Stevenson|
|1974||Intent to Murder||Janet Preston||TV film|
|1975||Mister Quilp||Sally Brass|
|1976||Almost a Vision||Isobel||TV film|
|1977||Full Circle||Lily Lofting|
|1979||The Old Crowd||Stella||TV film|
|1981||For Your Eyes Only||Brink|
|1982||Britannia Hospital||Dr. MacMillan|
|1983||The Aerodrome||Eustasia||TV film|
|1986||Lady Jane||Mrs. Ellen|
|1989||A Day in Summer||Miss Prosser||TV film|
|1990||The Sheltering Sky||Mrs. Lyle|
|1954||BBC Sunday-Night Theatre||Polly Eccles||Episode: "Caste"|
|Lady Ariadne Crofield||Episode: "Job for the Boy"|
|1955||Valerie Fergusson||Episode: "A Dream of Treason"|
|Sally Raynor||Episode: "Night Was Our Friend"|
|1956||ITV Play of the Week||Mary Belle||Episode: "The Anatomist"|
|Masha||Episode: "The Seagull"|
|Armchair Theatre||Isa||Episode: "Ring Out the Old"|
|1957||BBC Sunday-Night Theatre||Grette Brinson||Episode: "Do It Yourself"|
|Do it Yourself||Assistant|
|1958||Armchair Theatre||Agnes Madinier||Episode: "The Web of Lace"|
|BBC Sunday-Night Theatre||Barbara Shearer||Episode: "Statue of David"|
|Catherine Sloper||Episode: "The Heiress"|
|1959||Anne-Marie||Episode: "Figure of Fun"|
|Saturday Playhouse||Trilby O'Ferral||Episode: "Trilby"|
|Armchair Theatre||Lily||Episode: "Hand in Glove"|
|1960||Stella||Episode: "Thunder on the Snowy"|
|ITV Playhouse||Rena||Episode: "Other People's House"|
|Emily Forsyth||Episode: "Independent Means"|
|Somerset Maugham Hour||Annette||Episode: "The Unconquered"|
|Millicent||Episode: "Before the Party"|
|1961||ITV Play of the Week||Emma Gore||Episode: "Ring of Truth"|
|1962||Somerset Maugham Hour||Olive Hardy||Episode: "The Book Bag"|
|The Cheaters||Ferba Martinez||Episode: "Time to Kill"|
|BBC Sunday-Night Play||Victoria Thomson||Episode: "Storm in Teacup"|
|1963||Hilary||Episode: "The Sponge Room"|
|Maupassant||Episode: "Foolish Wives"|
|ITV Play of the Week||Lizzie||Episode: "The Rainmaker"|
|Masha||Episode: "Three Sisters"|
|1964||Espionage||Mistress Patience Wright||Episode: "The Frantick Rebel"|
|First Night||Libby Beeston||Episode: "How Many Angels"|
|ITV Play of the Week||Helena||Episode: "A Midsummer's Night Dream"|
|Gilda||Episode: "A Choice of Coward #4: Design for Living"|
|1965||Marjorie Wilton||Episode: "We Thought You'd Like to Be Caesar"|
|1966||ABC Stage 67||Frida Holmeier||Episode: "Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn?"|
|Thirty-Minute Theatre||Mary Hass||Episode: "Brainscrew"|
|1968||BBC Play of the Month||Anna||Episode: "The Parachute"|
|Half Hour Story||Penelope||Episode: "Its Only Us"|
|1971||ITV Sunday Night Theatre||Episode: "The Hotel in Amsterdam"|
|1974||Late Night Drama||Jill||Episode: "Ms or Jill and Jack"|
|1975||Aquarius||Maria||Episode: "The Three Marias"|
|1976||Murder||Lola||Episode: "Hello Lola"|
|1981||Play for Today||Alice Carlion||Episode: "Country"|
|1984||Poor Little Rich Girls||Daisy Troop||Series regular|
|1985||Time for Murder||Sonia Barrington||Episode: "The Murders at Lynch Cross"|
|1986||Paradise Postponed||Lady Grace Fanner||Series regular|
|1987||Worlds Beyond||Elizabeth Berrington||Episode: "The Barrington Case"|
Nora in A Doll's House, BBC Third Programme 1959. Directed by Frederick Bradnum. Cast included Jack May and John Gabriel.
Masha in The Three Sisters/TRI SESTRY, BBC Home Service Radio 1965. Directed by John Tydeman. Cast included Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave and Wilfrid Lawson.