Tributes have been played to the ‘dumb blonde’ actress Dora Bryan, who has died at the age of 91.
Best known for her roles in TV’s Last Of The Summer Wine and classic British movies, like A Taste Of Honey – which was filmed in Blackpool and for which she won a BAFTA – she had been living in a nursing home in Hove, East Sussex.
Born in Southport, Bryan first came to the Fylde in the late 1940s with her then-fiancé former St Annes Cricket Club professional Bill Lawton.
She went on to appear in several summer seasons, plays and musicals in Blackpool.
Producer Duggie Chapman was in his mid-teens when he appeared in what he believes was Bryan’s first film The Cure For Love, filmed around Burnley.
He said: “She was a lovely lady, a bit scatty but that was her personality.
“She eventually went into The Last Of The Summer Wine, with Thora Hird, and there’s not many people still around of that ilk – the real comedy ladies.
“They gave the real back-up to the men in that show.”
Among her roles in Blackpool, Dora starred in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as Lorelei Lee – the role Marilyn Monroe made famous in the movie – at the Grand in 1963 after a West End run.
She also topped the bill at eight Sunday concerts in the Opera House in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Bryan returned to the Grand in 1977, after its refurbishment but before it reopened for bingo, as Julia Sterroll in Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels.
She played this same role there, once again, in 1982 when full-time theatre returned to the Grand.
Blackpool stage historian Barry Band also has fond memories of the star whose fame spanned two centuries of stardom.
“It’s probably a bit cheeky, but ultimately true, that she was the only dumb blonde who didn’t rely on her cleavage,” he said.
“I interviewed her a couple of times, and the character she played on film and on stage, was the same as the one you met. She was a delightfully flibbertigibbet type.”