Dorothy Bromiley

Dorothy Bromiley (Dorothy Bromiley Phelan from 1966) (born 18 September 1930)[1][2] is a former British film, stage and television actress and authority on historic domestic needlework.

Born in Manchester, Lancashire,[3] the only child of Frank Bromiley and Ada Winifred (née Thornton). Bromiley played a role in a Hollywood film before returning to the UK where, in 1954, she started work as assistant stage manager at the Central Library Theatre, Manchester; followed by a West End stage role in The Wooden Dish directed by the exiled US film and theatre director Joseph Losey (who became Bromiley's husband from 1956 to 1963).[2] They have a son by this relationship, the actor Joshua Losey.[citation needed][2] Since 1963 Bromiley has lived with the Dublin-born actor and writer Brian Phelan (who appeared in the 1965 film Four in the Morning), they have a daughter, Kate.[citation needed][4] Bromiley changed her name by deed poll in 1966.[citation needed]


Bromiley attended Levenshulme High School (where she was joint deputy head girl), followed by the Central School of Speech and Drama (1949–52).[citation needed] She also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[3]


The Girls of Pleasure Island, 1953 promotion photo. Left to right: Don Taylor, Audrey Dalton, Gene Barry, Joan Elan, Peter Baldwin, Dorothy Bromiley

Bromiley successfully auditioned for the role of Gloria in the Hollywood film The Girls of Pleasure Island (Paramount, 1952). Her major roles in several British films include sixth former Paulette at Angel Hill Grammar School (aged 26 at the time) in It's Great to Be Young (1956) in which Bromiley's singing voice for the Paddy Roberts/ Lester Powell Ray Martin song "You are My First Love" was dubbed by Edna Savage (and by Ruby Murray in the pre-credits sequence), Rose in A Touch Of The Sun (1956) co-starring with Frankie Howerd, Sarah in Zoo Baby (1957) with Angela Baddeley, Small Hotel (1957), Angela in The Criminal (1960) and a minor role in The Servant (1963), the latter two directed by Losey.[1][5]


Bromiley made her television drama debut as Pauline Kirby in "The Lady Asks For Help" (1956) an episode of Television Playhouse produced by Towers of London for ITV.[6] This was followed by the role of Ann Fleming in "Heaven and Earth" (1957) part of the Douglas Fairbanks Presents series for ATV. Directed by Peter Brook, it also starred Paul Scofield and Richard Johnson, and was set on board a plane that develops engine trouble.[7] Bromiley also had roles in such popular television series as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956) as Lady Rowena ("Hubert" episode), Armchair Theatre (1957), Play of the Week ("Arsenic and Old Lace") (1958), Saturday Playhouse ("The Shop at Sly Corner") (1960), Z-Cars (1964), The Power Game (1966) and No Hiding Place (1965, 1966), and the television play Jemima and Johnny (1966).[1][8] Her last television drama role was as Sarah Malory in Fathers and Families (BBC Television, 1977) directed by Christopher Morahan.[1][9]

Later careerEdit

Bromiley taught at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) between 1966–72 and left to create The Common Stock Theatre Company, staging socially relevant theatre in colleges and non-traditional halls.[10]

Authority on domestic needleworkEdit

Retired from acting, Bromiley lives in Dorset, and has developed an interest in 16th and 17th century amateur domestic needlework, writing on the subject, and curating two major exhibitions.[11]


  • The Point of the Needle: Five Centuries of Samplers and Embroideries, an Exhibition of Needlework at the Dorset County Museum. (ISBN 1-874336-97-0)
  • The Goodhart Samplers ( ISBN 978-0-9552086-2-1) with Eva Lotta Hansson and Jacqueline Holdsworth, 2008


  1. ^ a b c d "Dorothy Bromiley". BFI.
  2. ^ a b c "Cinema".
  3. ^ a b Schallert, Edwin (March 19, 1952). "'Pleasure Island' Sports Three British Finds; Anson Bond With Metro". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. Part III, p 9. Retrieved 17 January 2019 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ McFarlane, Brian; Slide, Anthony (May 16, 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526111968 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Dorothy Bromiley | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  6. ^ "The Lady Asks for Help (1956)". BFI.
  7. ^ "Heaven and Earth (1957)". BFI.
  8. ^ "Dorothy Bromiley".
  9. ^ "Fathers and Families". February 1, 1977. p. 36 – via BBC Genome.
  10. ^ Megahey, Leslie (March 27, 2011). "Frank Whitten obituary" – via
  11. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - Woman's Hour -Needlework Part 1".

External linksEdit