Dame Florence Lilian Braithwaite,(9 March 1873 – 17 September 1948), known professionally as Lilian Braithwaite, was an English actress, primarily of the stage.
by Charles Sims
Florence Lilian Braithwaite
9 March 1872
|Died||17 September 1948(aged 75)|
|Alma mater||Croydon High School|
(m. ????; div. 1905)
She was the daughter of a clergyman, and born in Ramsgate, Kent. She was educated at Croydon High School. Braithwaite first acted with amateur companies. Her first professional London appearance was in As You Like It in 1900. She appeared in the 1927 Alfred Hitchcock film Downhill.
Her greatest triumph was as the alcoholic mother in Noël Coward's groundbreaking drama The Vortex. She proved that comedy was her greatest asset in a succession of drawing-room dramas and light comedies. 'Arsenic and Old Lace began in December 1942 and went on for three years.
Braithwaite responded to the assertion of critic James Agate that she was "the second most beautiful woman in London", by replying, "I shall long cherish that, coming from our second-best theatre critic."
During the Second World War she served as chairman and chief organiser of the hospital division of ENSA. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), for services to the stage, on 1 January 1943. Braithwaite married actor-manager Gerald Lawrence. She and Lawrence had a daughter, Joyce Carey, who later became a film and television actress. The couple divorced in 1905.
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