Frequently lavished with praise by Kenneth Tynan, the most influential critic of his day, the actress Daphne Slater divided her career between Shakespearean roles and appearances in television plays. But she had no regrets at giving up her work in 1975 after she married her second husband, an Austrian businessman, and went to live in Germany and then Switzerland.
Slater’s father worked in the City. Her mother, who wished she had been an actress herself, ensured that her daughter studied at RADA. Slater emerged from her training with a gold medal, and was snapped up by the film director Herbert Wilcox, who gave her a seven-year contract and a leading role in The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947), the story of a family founded by a nobleman and an Irish maid, starring Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding.
That same year, Slater excelled herself at Stratford-upon-Avon, with appearances in Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Pericles. These were followed by a series of appearances at the Arts Theatre in London, where she was seen in the first production of Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s Not For Burning, directed by Jack Hawkins.
In 1952, she appeared as Cordelia in an Old Vic production of King Lear. In all, she was cast in three television adaptations of Jane Austen novels – Emma (1948), Pride and Prejudice (1952), alongside Peter Cushing, and Persuasion (1960-61).
Slater met her first husband, John Harrison, at Stratford. When he became the director of the Nottingham Playhouse, she followed him there to appear in productions of plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen.
From the early 1960s, her work became more sporadic, although she was seen on television in the comedy series Our Man at St Mark’s (1966) with Donald Sinden, telling children’s stories in Jackanory (1967) and playing Queen Mary in Elizabeth R (1971), with Glenda Jackson in the title role.
Daphne Slater, who was born on March 3, 1928, died on October 4, aged 84.
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