Elizabeth Allan

Elizabeth Allan (9 April 1910 – 27 July 1990) was an English stage and film actress who worked in both Britain and Hollywood, where she appeared in 50 films.

Elizabeth Allan
Elizabeth Allan in Camille.jpg
Elizabeth Allan in the trailer for Camille (1936)
Born(1910-04-09)9 April 1910[1]
Skegness, Lincolnshire, England[1]
Died27 July 1990(1990-07-27) (aged 80)
Hove, East Sussex, England
Years active1927–1967
Wilfrid J. O'Bryen
(m. 1932; died 1977)

Life and careerEdit

Allan was born at Skegness, Lincolnshire in 1910 and educated in Darlington, County Durham. At age 17, she made her stage debut at the Old Vic. She made her film debut four years later in Alibi.[1]

She appeared in a number of films for Julius Hagen's Twickenham Studios, but was also featured in Gainsborough's Michael and Mary and Korda's Service for Ladies.[1] In 1932 she married agent Wilfrid J. O'Bryen, to whom she was introduced by actor Herbert Marshall; they were together until his death in 1977.

Her first US/UK co-production and first US production came in 1933, and she worked in the United States under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1935 was her most memorable year in Hollywood, when she not only distinguished herself in two memorable Dickens' adaptations as David's unfortunate young mother in George Cukor's David Copperfield and as Lucie Manette in Jack Conway's A Tale of Two Cities, but was also featured in Tod Browning's Mark of the Vampire.

Allan did not think highly of the latter film, to which she had been assigned, and considered it "slumming".[citation needed] MGM announced her for a leading part in King Vidor's The Citadel, but she was subsequently replaced by Rosalind Russell. When she was replaced again by Greer Garson in Goodbye, Mr Chips, Elizabeth successfully sued the studio.[2] The studio retaliated by refusing to let her work, and, frustrated, she returned to the UK in 1938. The same year she appeared onstage in the West End farce The Innocent Party alongside Basil Radford and Cecil Parker.

By the 1950s, Allan had made the transition to character parts. Particularly memorable is her appearance as Trevor Howard's brittle and dissatisfied wife in the film adaptation of Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter (1953). In 1958, she appeared as Boris Karloff's wife in The Haunted Strangler. Late in her career, she was a frequent panellist on television game shows, including the British version of What's My Line?. She was named Great Britain's Top Female TV Personality of 1952.


She died at Hove, on the Sussex coast, at age 80. She was cremated at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton and the ashes were taken by the family.[3]


Her name is on Brighton & Hove's Scania OmniDekka bus 655.



Year Title Role Notes
1931 Alibi Ursula Browne
1931 Rodney Steps In Masked Lady Short
1931 The Rosary Vera Mannering
1931 Black Coffee Barbara Amory
1931 Chin Chin Chinaman Olga Dureska
1931 Michael and Mary Romo
1931 Many Waters Freda Barcaldine
1932 Service for Ladies Sylvia Robertson
1932 The Chinese Puzzle Naomi Melsham
1932 Nine till Six Gracie Abbott
1932 Down Our Street Maisie Collins
1932 Insult Pola Dubois
1932 The Lodger Daisy Bunting
1933 The Shadow Sonia Bryant
1933 Looking Forward Caroline Service
1933 The Lost Chord Joan Elton
1933 No Marriage Ties Peggy Wilson
1933 The Solitaire Man Helen Heming
1933 Ace of Aces Nancy Adams
1934 The Mystery of Mr. X Jane Frensham
1934 Men in White Barbara
1934 Java Head Nettie Vollar
1934 Outcast Lady Venice Harpenden
1935 David Copperfield Clara Copperfield
1935 Mark of the Vampire Irena Borotyn
1935 A Tale of Two Cities Lucie Manette
1936 A Woman Rebels Flora Anne Thistlewaite
1936 Camille Nichette
1937 The Soldier and the Lady Nadia
1937 Slave Ship Nancy Marlowe
1938 Dangerous Medicine Victoria Ainswell
1938 It Might Be You Betty Short
1939 Inquest Margaret Hamilton
1940 The Girl Who Forgot Leonora Barradine
1940 Saloon Bar Queenie King
1942 Went the Day Well? Peggy Pryde
1942 The Great Mr. Handel Mrs. Cibber
1945 He Snoops to Conquer Jane Strawbridge
1948 Virtuoso Judith Wainwright
1949 If This Be Sin Sybil
1951 No Highway in the Sky Shirley Scott
1952 Folly to Be Wise Angela Prout
1953 Twice Upon a Time Carol-Anne Bailey
1953 The Heart of the Matter Louise Scobie
1954 Front Page Story Susan Grant
1955 The Brain Machine Philippa Roberts
1958 The Haunted Strangler Barbara Rankin


Year Title Role Notes
1951 The Concert Frances Hein TV film
1955–56 The Adventures of Annabel Annabel TV series
1956 The Chalet Cyra Carter TV film
1956 The Adventures of Aggie Toni Episode: "Top Secret"
1961 Call Oxbridge 2000 Peggy Graham TV series


  1. ^ a b c d "This Week's Pen Portrait". Sheffield Evening Telegraph. 9 February 1939. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  2. ^ p.97 Vieira, Mark A. Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939 Running Press, 10 December 2013
  3. ^ Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14000 Famous Persons by Scott Wilson

External linksEdit