Elizabeth Allan

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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]
Died 27 July 1990(1990-07-27) (aged 80)
Hove, East Sussex, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1927–1967
Spouse(s) Wilfrid J. O'Bryen (m. 1932; his death 1977)

Elizabeth Allan (9 April 1910 – 27 July 1990) was an English stage and film actress who worked in both Britain and Hollywood, making about 50 films over more than a quarter century.

Life and career[edit]

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

She began her career appearing in a number of films for Julius Hagen's Twickenham Studios but also featured in Gainsborough's Michael and Mary and Korda's Service for Ladies.[1] In 1932, she married Wilfrid J. O'Bryen – to whom she had been introduced by actor Herbert Marshall – in a union that lasted 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.

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, East Sussex at aged 80.


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



  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

External links[edit]