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Phyllis Calvert (1915-2002)

  1. Diana Wynard, Kipps, 1941.    Originally cast as Helen Walsingham, Phyllis was trying on her Cecil Beaton costumes when told she was replacing Margaret  Lockwood who did not want to play a maid. “I burst into tears”...  and got the best reviews.
  2. Patricia Roc, 2000 Women, 1944.        The UK writer-producer-director team,  Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, were “tremendous buddies” with Phyllis before she committed the unpardonable sin...  refusing a role they'd written for her.  “I just couldn't  play a nun who falls in love with an airman.”  She was given the lead, instead, “from then on I didn't see much  of them.”
  3. Angela Lansbury, Samson and Delilah, 1948.   The London actress fell ill after being selected. CB DeMille immediately called up the LA Brit for Delilah’s older sister, Semaazr - although Lansbury was ten years younger than Hedy Lamarr’s delicious coiffeuse. Here’s Groucho Marx’s review: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man's bust is larger than the leading lady's!"
  4. Barbara Murray, Doctor Who #120: Black Orchid, 1982.       Despite a wish-list of 18 actresses, this was not a rehash of Sophia Loren’s 1958 Hollywood melo, but an adventure (with cricket!) in 1925 England for Doc5 Peter Davison. The choices for Lady Cranleigh were inevitable - such definitive ladies as Jean Anderson, Renee Asherson, Honor Blackman, Claire Bloom, Faith Brook, Kathleen Byron, Rachel  Kempson (mother of Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave), Virginia McKenna, Muriel Pavlow, Maria Redmond, Dinah Sheridan, Elizabeth Spriggs… and 40s’ UK screen queens Phyllis Calvert, Joan Greenwood. But also two comic character stars Beryl Reid and Joan (Carry On) Sims and a Hammer horror ikon, Barbara Shelley!


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