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Betty Marsden (24 February 1919 – 18 July 1998) was an English comedy actress. She was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, but spent her early childhood living in near poverty in Somerset. Her music teacher recognised Marsden's talent at the age of six, and became her guardian.
Life and career
In the radio series Beyond Our Ken, she played Fanny Haddock, a takeoff of Fanny Cradock. In the radio series Round the Horne, she played a similar role (Daphne Whitethigh), as well as Lady Counterblast (née Clissold), Buttercup Gruntfuttock (wife of J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, personified by Kenneth Williams), Dame Celia Molestrangler, Judy Coolibar, Dame Bella Goatcabin and every other female role.
Perhaps her most famous catchphrase was "many, many, many times", delivered in the dry, reedy tones of Bea Clissold, the ancient actress who was renowned for having given pleasure to many, particularly in "The Little Hut" on Shaftesbury Avenue. This long outlasted the Clissold character and was deployed to much audience appreciation on a few occasions in later series, possibly as an ad lib. Another was "'allo, cheeky face!", shouted into the microphone in the less-than-couth London tones of Buttercup Gruntfuttock. Marsden's vocal range was impressive and also included the husky Whitethigh, the strident stereotypical Aussie tones of the ultra feminist (but conflicted) Judy Coolibar, and the cut-glass received pronunciation of Dame Celia Molestrangler (in a series of loose pastiches of the stilted dialogue in 1930s' and 1940s' romances and melodramas - for example, The Astonished Heart became The Hasty Nose - partnered with Hugh Paddick's 'ageing juvenile Binkie Huckaback', with the denouement inevitably bringing the lovers crashing back to earth).
- Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 370. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
- Took, Barry (1989). The Best of Round The Horne. Equation. ISBN 1-85336-162-3.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works – Walsh, Michael (1989, revised and expanded, 1997),P.85, Abrams: New York