( b. Nov 20, 1919 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA - d. Nov 15, 2011 Middlesex, ENGLAND ) Female
Dulcie Gray, a stalwart of British stage, screen, radio and television who won enthusiastic reviews when she made her Broadway debut at age 80 with her husband and frequent acting partner, Michael Denison, has died.
Ms. Gray and Mr. Denison, who died in 1998, achieved considerable renown during their intertwined acting careers — she for usually playing the ladylike, suffering wife; he as the epitome of the English gentleman.
Between them they acted in more than 100 productions in London’s West End, including 28 in which they both had roles, among them "The Fourposter,” Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” and Christopher Fry’s “Venus Observed.” As a couple, they also appeared in five films.
Without her husband, Ms. Gray had a prominent role in the 1945 movie “They Were Sisters,” in which James Mason played a brooding, Svengali-like husband who sadistically destroys his mousy wife’s spirit and health. “Dulcie Gray gives a sensitive portrayal of the ill-fated, fear-stricken wife,” A. H. Weiler wrote in The New York Times.
It was only after 57 years of marriage that Ms. Gray and Mr. Denison first appeared together on Broadway, in the 1996 revival of Oscar Wilde’s Ideal Husband, a scathing comedy about a young politician whose marriage and career are jeopardized when a blackmailer threatens to expose his youthful act of insider trading. Among the dowagers, dukes and dandies who gossiped about the scandal were Ms. Gray as the flighty Lady Markby and Mr. Denison as the humorously dour Earl of Caversham.
In his Times review, Vincent Canby wrote, “It’s good to see Mr. Denison and Ms. Gray, who are husband and wife and icons of the English cinema of the 1950s, so full of zest in the 1990s.”
Wife and husband were made Commanders of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 1983.
Dulcie Bailey was born on Nov. 20, 1915, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Arnold and Kate Bailey (she later took her mother’s maiden name, Gray, as her surname). Her father was a judge there.
Sent to boarding school in England as a small child, Dulcie returned to Malaysia at 14. But two years later she ran away from home, made her way back to England on a cargo ship and began working as a governess. Eventually she was admitted to the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where in 1938 she met Mr. Denison. Six months later they were married and working in repertory in Scotland. The couple had no children.
During World War II, while Mr. Denison was serving as a military intelligence officer, Ms. Gray began acting in radio soap operas, including 395 performances of “Front Line Family,” about a British family living through the blitz, wartime rationing and the loss of relatives in combat. Later in life Ms. Gray enjoyed success in television soap operas, including the long-running yachting series “Howard’s Way.”
Acting was not her only forte. She also wrote several crime novels, a children’s book and, in 1978, “Butterflies on My Mind: The Conservation of British Butterflies” — fulfilling a lifetime passion.
Source: The New York Times