dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Kathleen Byron

by -

Distinguished British actress Kathleen Byron was known to cinemagoers for her stunning portrayal of the eye-rolling, jealous nun Sister Ruth in Powell and Pressburger’s classic Black Narcissus (1947).

Her film and television career spanned 60 years and in her later years she made guest appearances in films such as The Elephant Man (1980) and Emma (1996). Steven Spielberg was a fan of her work and in 1998 cast her in the small but telling role as Private Ryan’s wife in the opening scenes of Private Ryan.

Byron was born Kathleen Elizabeth Fell in London on January 11, 1921, the daughter of a railway clerk. She studied drama at the Old Vic Theatre School, then under the auspices of Michel Saint Denis.

She broke into films in the late thirties and in 1943 starred in Powell and Pressburger’s flag-waver The Silver Fleet. Three years later she worked for Powell and Pressburger again, cast as an angel in A Matter of Life and Death, in which she co-starred with David Niven.

After the success of Black Narcissus, she went on to star in The Small Back Room (1949), Madness of the Heart (1949) and many other dramas.

She had a prolific television career, often appearing as a guest star, notably in Edward the Seventh (1975) as Queen Louise of Denmark, and series such as Minder, The Professionals, Casualty, Midsomer Murders, The Bill and Heartbeat. In 1998 she starred opposite Liam Neeson in the US TV version of Les Miserables.

She died on January 18, aged 88. Her husband predeceased her. She is survived by two children and a stepdaughter.

Patrick Newley

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.

loading...
^