Pamela Brown (actress)

Pamela Brown

Born Pamela Mary Brown
(1917-07-08)8 July 1917
Hampstead, London, England[1]
Died 19 September 1975(1975-09-19) (aged 58)
Avening, Gloucestershire, England[2]
Years active 1942–1975
Spouse(s) Peter Copley (1941–1953; divorced)
Partner(s) Michael Powell (till 1975)

Pamela Mary Brown (8 July 1917 – 19 September 1975) was an English stage and film actress.

She was born in Hampstead, London to George Edward Brown, a journalist, and his wife, Helen Blanche (née Ellerton). Brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, she attended St Mary's School, Ascot. After attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she made her stage debut in 1936 as Juliet in a Stratford-upon-Avon production of Romeo and Juliet.[3] Three of her early film roles were in Powell and Pressburger films: her first screen part in One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942), a memorable supporting role in I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), and in the fantasy film-opera The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). She played a bitter spinster in Personal Affair, starring Gene Tierney (1953).

From the early 1950s, her arthritic condition (first appearing when she was sixteen), began to make playing on the stage difficult; her mobility was restricted and she was in great pain, which was kept at bay by drugs. Nevertheless, she was a notable success as Jennet in the London production of The Lady's Not For Burning, opposite Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and John Gielgud (1949), which transferred to Broadway for an extended run (1950–51).[4][5] Time magazine wrote (20 November 1950): "As the lady, Pamela Brown proves that Fry did not write the part for her in vain. No one has a more gloriously uppity charm; no voice can simultaneously so rasp and thrill; no one ever made standoffishness more come-hitherable."

Her success in film continued as Jane Shore in Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955) and opposite Kirk Douglas in the Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life (1956). Highlights of her 1960s work include the epic Cleopatra (High Priestess; 1963), Becket (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine; 1964) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (High Priestess; 1966). She played Lady Bessborough in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972). By and large though, her later film roles were not as distinctive as her stage work.

Personal life

In February 1953, she divorced her husband, Peter Copley, for infidelity. They had no children. A devout Roman Catholic, she could not remarry while Copley was still alive so she lived with her partner Michael Powell, the director who had given her her early film roles. They remained together until her death from pancreatic cancer in 1975, aged 58, in Avening, Gloucestershire. She was buried in Holy Cross churchyard, Avening.[6]



  1. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  2. Barker, Clive (2004). "Pamela Mary Brown (1917–1975)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
  3. "Shakespeare Festival at Stratford". The Times. London. 23 March 1936. p. 10.
  4. Ellis, Samantha (28 May 2003). "The Lady's Not For Burning, Globe Theatre, May 1949". The Guardian.
  5. Zolotow, Sam (950-11-08). "Play by Fry bows tonight at Royale; 'The Lady's Not for Burning,' a British Importation, Stars John Gielgud, Pamela Brown". The New York Times. p. 49. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. Thomson, David (1 October 1995). "Cinema: A genius without a job". The Independent. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
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