Jennifer Hilary had a successful career both on the West End stage and on Broadway. She co-starred with Richard Briers in the original West End production of Alan Ayckbourn’s early hit Relatively Speaking (1967) and on Broadway she appeared in Sir John Gielgud’s aacclaimed 1966 production of Chekhov’s Ivanov.
She was also a prolific TV actress and appeared in series such as A Family at War, Tales of the Unexpected, The Gentle Touch, Midsomer Murders and Pie in the Sky.
Jennifer Mary Hilary was born in Frimley, Surrey, on December 14, 1942. She studied at the Elmhurst Ballet School and later went to RADA, where she won the Bancroft Medal in 1961.
She played leading roles at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Liverpool Playhouse and, in 1963, she made her Broadway debut in Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal, a production which also starred Keith Michell and Coral Browne.
The following year she made her West End debut in The Wings of a Dove, playing Milly, and later West End credits included A Scent of Flowers (1964), in which she co-starred with Phyllis Calvert.
In 1965 she was chosen by Michael Redgrave to appear in his production of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford.
She returned to the West End in the comedy Dear Daddy (1976) and in 1983 she was seen in Dennis Potter’s comedy, Suffcient Carbohydrate. In 1999 she won acclaim for her performance in the Glasgow Citizens’ Company’s production of Coward’s Cavalcade.
Hilary appeared in many leading touring productions, both in the UK and Canada, notably playing Jennet Jourdemayne in The Lady’s Not For Burning (UK, 1971), Alison Ames in Avanti! (South Africa, 1972) and she starred in both the UK and US tours of Half Life in 1978.
Her many film credits inlcuded Becket (1964), The Heroes of Telemark (1966), The Idol (1966) and Five Days One Summer (1982). She also starred in the US mini-series Danielle Steel’s Zoya, alongside Diana Rigg.
Hilary said her favourite stage roles were Nina in The Seagull, Zoe in A Scent of Flowers, Lucy in Alphabetical Order and Cressida in Troilus and Cressida.
She died in London on August 6.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.