Dulcie Gray

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Dulcie Gray
With husband Michael Denison
Dulcie Winifred Catherine Bailey

20 November 1915
Died15 November 2011(2011-11-15) (aged 95)
OccupationActress, singer, mystery writer
Years active1942–2000
Michael Denison
(m. 1939; died 1998)

Dulcie Winifred Catherine Denison,[2] CBE (née Bailey; 20 November 1915 – 15 November 2011[3]), known professionally as Dulcie Gray, was a British singer and actress of stage, screen and television, a mystery writer and lepidopterist.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Gray was born in Kuala Lumpur, British Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1915, although she would later shave four years off her age, and attended school in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, later returning to Malaya to teach. After her father's death, she came back to Britain. Following a brief period at art school, she enrolled at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where she met fellow actor Michael Denison, whom she married in 1939. The couple were together for 59 years before his death from cancer in 1998. They had no children. The couple's professional careers were intertwined and they frequently appeared on stage together. Between them they starred in more than 100 West End plays and in the 1940s and 1950s, were familiar figures in British films. Onscreen they co-starred in My Brother Jonathan and The Glass Mountain in 1948, The Franchise Affair in 1950 and the Battle of Britain movie Angels One Five in 1952.

Her performance as the luckless waitress Rose in the original stage production of Brighton Rock at the Garrick Theatre in 1944 led to Gray being offered a contract with Gainsborough Pictures. However, she was passed over for the role of Rose in the 1947 film version of Brighton Rock, in favour of Carol Marsh.[4]

During the 1940s, Gray appeared in Gainsborough melodramas such as They Were Sisters. She was known to television viewers as Kate Harvey in the 1980s BBC drama series Howards' Way (1985–90). Gray and Denison made their joint Broadway debut in the first New York production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, appearing as Lady Markby and the Earl of Caversham from 1 May 1996 until 26 January 1997. Their wedding anniversary was feted by cast and crew at Tavern on the Green.

She was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in March 1973 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Richmond Theatre; and in April 1995, when Michael Aspel surprised her and her husband Michael Denison, on board the Sir Thomas More motorboat at Teddington Lock, for a joint tribute.

In 1997, she gave an impromptu public performance of her song "You Tickle Me Spitless, Baby" as part of an interview with her and her husband on UK Channel 5's Five's Company. Before singing it on this daytime show, Gray had only sung this ditty to friends at dinner parties. It was never officially released as a record.

In 1999, the year after her husband's death, she played Mrs Wilberforce in an 18-city tour of UK theatres in a stage adaptation of the 1955 Ealing classic film The Ladykillers.[5]

She last appeared on screen in 2000, in an episode of the BBC drama series Doctors.[6]


She wrote some two dozen murder mysteries, which found wide popularity (including seventeen detective stories featuring Inspector Cardiff, a character she created), eight radio plays, several volumes of short stories—one of which included "A Feast of Blood", which was turned into a Night Gallery episode—and an autobiography, Looking Forward, Looking Back. With her husband, she wrote some thoughts on her craft for young children, An Actor and His World.[4] She also published Butterflies on My Mind, a work on the conservation and life of butterflies in Great Britain, illustrated by Brian Hargreaves (she was Vice President of the British Butterfly Conservation Society).[7][8] She was also a patron of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company.


Dulcie Gray died from bronchial pneumonia in the actors' residential care home Denville Hall, Northwood, Middlesex, on 15 November 2011, five days before her 96th birthday.[3]


  • 1957 Murder on the Stairs
  • 1958 Murder in Melbourne
  • 1959 Baby Face
  • 1960 Epitaph for a Dead Actor
  • 1963 Murder in Mind
  • 1964 The Devil Wore Scarlet
  • 1964 No Quarter for a Star
  • 1967 The Murder of Love
  • 1968 Died in the Red
  • 1969 Murder on Honeymoon
  • 1970 For Richer For Richer
  • 1971 Deadly Lampshade
  • 1972 Understudy to Murder
  • 1974 Dead Giveaway
  • 1975 Ride on a Tiger
  • 1979 Dark Calypso



Year Title Role Notes
1944 Two Thousand Women Nellie Skinner
1944 Victory Wedding Mary Clark Short
1945 Madonna of the Seven Moons Nesta Logan
1945 A Place of One's Own Sarah
1945 They Were Sisters Charlotte Lee
1946 The Years Between Judy
1946 Wanted for Murder Anne Fielding AKA, A Voice in the Night
1947 A Man About the House Ellen Isit
1947 Mine Own Executioner Patricia Milne
1948 My Brother Jonathan Rachel Hammond
1949 The Glass Mountain Anne Wilder
1951 The Franchise Affair Marion Sharpe
1952 Angels One Five Nadine Clinton
1953 There Was a Young Lady Elizabeth Foster
1966 A Man Could Get Killed Mrs. Mathieson


Year Title Role Notes
1949 The Will Mrs. Ross TV film
1949 Crime Passionel Jessica TV film
1951 Milestones Rose Sibley TV film
1953 Art and Opportunity Pauline Cheverelle TV film
1953 A Fish in the Family Laura TV film
1954 Douglas Fairbanks Presents Margaret Brown, Alice McBain Episodes: "A Lesson in Love", "The Happy McBains"
1957 The Governess Miss Fry TV film
1958, 1965 ITV Play of the Week Gwendolen Fairfax, Mrs. Borradaile Episodes: "The Importance of Being Earnest", "Beautiful Forever"
1959 Theatre Night Nancy (Duchess of Hampshire) Episode: "Let Them Eat Cake"
1959 Sunday Night Theatre Emily Vernon Episode: "What the Public Wants"
1960 Somerset Maugham Hour Leslie Crosbie Episode: "The Letter"
1963 Where Angels Fear to Tread Caroline Abbott TV film
1964 East Lynne Barbara Hare TV film
1965 The Sullavan Brothers Rita Dunphie Episode: "The Outsider"
1970 ITV Playhouse Moira Tait Episode: "Unexpectantly Vacant"
1973 Crown Court Stella Pickford Episodes: "Just Good Friends: Parts 1-3"
1979 Play of the Month Mrs. Voysey Episode: "The Voysey Inheritance"
1983 Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime Laura Barton Episode: "The Affair of the Pink Pearl"
1983 Rumpole of the Bailey Lorraine Lee Episode: "Rumpole and the Old Boy Net"
1984 Cold Warrior Cecily Broome Episode: "Hook, Line and Sinker"
1985–1990 Howards' Way Kate Harvey Main role
1987, 1989 Three Up, Two Down Nanny Parker Episodes: "Life and Death", "Cheltenham"
1996 Tales from the Crypt Mrs. Wilder Episode: "Last Respects"
2000 Doctors Paddy Grey Episode: "On for Tonight"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Dulcie Gray, Film and stage actress". Daily Express. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  2. ^ Who's Who
  3. ^ a b Quinn, Michael (15 November 2011). "Film and stage star Dulcie Gray dies". The Stage. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Dulcie Gray". The Daily Telegraph. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Gray Returns to Stage with Ladykillers Tour". What's On Stage. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Howards' Way star Dulcie Gray dies at 95". BBC News. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  7. ^ Rhone, Christine. "Brian Hargreaves". Rye Castle Museum. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Reviews & Notices: Butterflies on My Mind". Environmental Conservation. Foundation for Environmental Conservation. 6 (3): 250. Autumn 1979. Retrieved 1 April 2016.

External links[edit]