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|Dame Thora Hird
Hird in 1974
28 May 1911|
Morecambe, Lancashire, England
|Died||15 March 2003
Brinsworth House, Twickenham,
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Notable work||See here and here|
|Television||Last of the Summer Wine, In Loving Memory, Hallelujah!|
|Spouse(s)||James Scott (m. 1937–94)
Dame Thora Hird, DBE (28 May 1911 – 15 March 2003) was a triple BAFTA Award-winning English actress and comedian of stage and screen, presenter and writer. Her career spanned almost 75 years, and she appeared in more than 100 films. With her Northern English and her television roles, Hird became a household name and British institution.
Early life and career
Hird was born in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. She was the youngest of Mr and Mrs James Henry Hird's three children. Thora first appeared on stage at the age of two months in a play her father was managing. She worked at the local Co-operative Group store before joining the Morecambe Repertory Theatre. Her family background was largely theatrical: her mother, Marie Mayor, had been an actress, while her father managed a number of entertainment venues in Morecambe, including the Royalty Theatre where she made her first appearance, and the Central Pier. Thora often described her father, who initially did not want her to be an actress, as her sternest critic and attributed much of her talent as an actress and comedian to his guidance. Although Hird left Morecambe in the late 1940s, she retained her affection for the town, referring to herself as a "sand grown 'un", the colloquial term for anyone born in Morecambe.
Initially she made regular appearances in films, including the wartime propaganda film Went the Day Well? (1942, known as 48 Hours in the USA), in which she is shown wielding a rifle to defend a house from German paratroopers. She worked with the British film comedian Will Hay and featured in The Entertainer (1960), which starred Laurence Olivier, as well as A Kind of Loving (1962) with Alan Bates.
Thora Hird gained her highest profile in television comedy, notably the sitcoms Meet the Wife (1963–66), In Loving Memory (1979–86), Hallelujah! (1983-1984), and for nearly two decades in Last of the Summer Wine (1986–2003). However, she played a variety of roles, including the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and won BAFTA Best Actress awards for her roles in two of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues. She starred as Captain Emily Ridley in the sitcom Hallelujah! (1983–84) about the Salvation Army, a movement for which she had a soft spot throughout her life. Hird also portrayed Mrs Speck, the housekeeper of the Mayor of Gloucester in The Tailor of Gloucester (1989). She played the screen mother of Deric Longden in Wide Eyed and Legless (aka the Wedding Gift) and Lost for Words, which won her a BAFTA for Best Actress.
Hird was a committed Christian, hosting the religious programme Praise Be!, a spin-off from Songs of Praise on the BBC. Her work for charity and on television in spite of old age and ill health made her an institution. Her advertisements for Churchill stairlifts also kept her in the public eye.
In December 1998, using a wheelchair, Dame Thora played a brief but energetic cameo role as the mother of Dolly on Dinnerladies, a sarcastic character who was particularly bitter towards her daughter.
Her last work was for BBC Radio 7: a final monologue written for her by Alan Bennett entitled The Last of the Sun, in which she played a forthright, broad-minded woman, immobile in an old people's home but still able to take a stand against the censorious and politically correct attitudes of her own daughter.
This Is Your Life
She was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions: in January 1964 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews, and in December 1996, when Michael Aspel surprised her while filming on location for Last of the Summer Wine.
Personal life, death and memorial
Hird had a heart-bypass operation in 1992. She suffered severe arthritis and was wheelchair bound in her later life. She died on 15 March 2003 aged 91 at a nursing home Brinsworth House, Twickenham, London, after suffering a stroke.
|1955||The Adventures of Robin Hood||Ada the maid|
|1963 – 1966||Meet the Wife||Thora Blacklock|
|1968 – 1969||The First Lady||Sarah Danby|
|1969 – 1970||Ours is a Nice House||Thora Parker|
|1979 – 1980||Flesh & Blood||Mabel Brassington|
|1979 – 1986||In Loving Memory||Ivy Unsworth|
|1983 – 1984||Hallelujah!||Captain Emily Ridley|
|1986 – 2003||Last of the Summer Wine||Edie Pegden|
- The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942)
- Went the Day Well? (1942)
- Two Thousand Women (1944)
- The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947)
- Maytime in Mayfair (1949)
- Madness of the Heart (1949)
- A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (1949)
- Conspirator (1949)
- Once a Sinner (1950)
- The Magnet (1950)
- The Magic Box (1951)
- The Frightened Man (1952)
- Emergency Call (1952)
- Time Gentlemen, Please! (1952)
- The Long Memory (1953)
- Turn the Key Softly (1953)
- Street Corner (1953)
- Background (1953)
- For Better, for Worse (1954)
- One Good Turn (1955)
- The Love Match (1955)
- Tiger by the Tail (1955)
- The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
- Simon and Laura (1955)
- Lost (1956)
- Women Without Men (1956)
- Sailor Beware! (1956)
- These Dangerous Years (1957)
- Further Up the Creek (1958)
- The Entertainer (1960)
- Over the Odds (1961)
- A Kind of Loving (1962)
- Term of Trial (1962)
- Bitter Harvest (1963)
- Rattle of a Simple Man (1964)
- Some Will, Some Won't (1970)
- Wide-Eyed and Legless (1994)
- Lost for Words (1999)
- Dame Thora Hird's autobiography, Scene And Hird (1976)
- "TV GREATS:DAME THORA HIRD 1911 - 2003", Television Heaven
- Hird, Thora. "Obituary". BBC News. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "Stars celebrate Dame Thora's life". BBC News. 15 September 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "Obituary: Dame Thora Hird". Telegraph. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- Thora Hird at the Internet Movie Database
- Thora Hird at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Thora Hird Britmovie British movie community
- "Actress Dame Thora Hird dies" - BBC News article, last updated 15 March 2003
- "Obituary: Dame Thora Hird" - BBC News obituary, last updated 15 March 2003
- Dame Thora Hird - obituary from The Guardian, by Veronica Horwell, dated 17 March 2003
- Thora Hird's appearances on This Is Your Life