Class, sheer class. God bless you Moira.
Hooked off the line
Moira was Anthony Aloysius Hancock's first girlfriend in the radio HANCOCK'S HALF HOUR, something which is not mentioned in this obit.
May she rest in peace.
wot a lady, wot an amazing career,
she was an aristocrat among actresses
I liked Moira too, there was a certain charm I felt......I know only a few years ago she did a Theatre tour with Joan Collins
This morning's Telegraph:
Moira Lister, the Vicomtesse d'Orthez, who died on Saturday aged 84, brought wit, beauty, intelligence and elegance to a wide range of plays, films and television productions in a career that spanned more than 60 years.
She came to Britain from South Africa during the Second World War to pursue an acting career, paying her fare with £120 she won at Johannesburg races. As a blue-eyed blonde with an attractively feline face, slim figure and upper-crust voice, she soon established herself in West End light comedy. She had a particular success as a sex symbol in various roles in Peter Ustinov's Love of Four Colonels.
Although she also acted in classical companies led by Robert Atkins, John Gielgud and John Clements, her talent was best suited to sophisticated comedy, and in plays by Sacha Guitry, Noël Coward, Alec Coppel and Terence Rattigan she shone. For her performance in Move Over Mrs Markham she won the Variety Club of Great Britain's Silver Heart Award as the Best Stage Actress of 1971.
In the same year she was the subject of a This Is Your Life programme and appeared on television in Shaw's Major Barbara.
In the late 1960s she had her own television series, The Very Merry Widow. Her many film appearances included parts in A Run For Your Money (1950), The Cruel Sea (1953), The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965), Stranger In The House (1967) and Not Now Darling (1973); but the theatre remained her preferred medium.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on August 6 1923, Moira Lister was educated at Parktown Convent, Johannesburg, and, much encouraged by her mother, studied for the stage under Professor Hulbert (the actor Jack Hulbert's father) and Amy Coleridge.
Her first appearance on stage came at the age of six, as the Prince in Ibsen's play The Vikings at Helgeland for the University Players in Johannesburg. When she was 13 she was co-opted into one of Seymour Hicks's touring comedies from London, Vintage Wine (of which he was co-author with Ashley Dukes), and the following year she landed a child's part in London in the play Post Road (Queen's, 1937).
Returning to South Africa, Moira Lister acted there as a juvenile in touring productions for several years before resuming her London career in 1944 in various light comedies and thrillers.
The following year she joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for Robert Atkins's last season before he handed over to Barry Jackson. After taking a crash course in Shakespeare, she played two of her favourite parts - Juliet and Desdemona - and made a fair impression as Olivia in Twelfth Night, Anne Bullen in Henry VIII, Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra and Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer.
From Stratford she went to the St James's for John Clements's classical season (Margaret Luce's Kingmaker and Dryden's Marriage à la Mode) which was followed by her first real West End success, as Joanna Lyppiatt, the straw-hatted adolescent schoolgirl opposite Noël Coward in Present Laughter (Haymarket, 1947).
Then came Madeleine (opposite Jack Buchanan) in the New York production of Guitry's Don't Listen, Ladies and another notable West End success as the young siren Diana in the Kay Hammond role in Terence Rattigan's early hit, French Without Tears (Vaudeville, 1949).
After heading a revue, Sauce Piquante (Cambridge), her five characters in Peter Ustinov's Love of Four Colonels (Wyndham's, 1951) tested her versatility; as the Sleeping Princess she kept waking to woo each colonel in turn in the theatrical parodies of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Molière and American religiosity.
She brought not only wit and beauty to the task, but also, as one critic noted, a voice which had "tone instead of the breathy twitterings of so many of our younger actresses". In 1955 Moira Lister rejoined the Memorial Theatre, Stratford-on-Avon, to tour the Continent, the English provinces and to appear in London at the Palace as Regan to John Gielgud's "Japanese" King Lear and as Margaret in his famous revival of Much Ado About Nothing.
In 1958-59 she took her one-woman show, People In Love, round Africa and Australia and returned to the West End (opposite Ian Carmichael) in Alec Coppel's long-running comedy The Gazebo.
After other light West End comedies and a tour of South Africa with Derek Nimmo, she was in an all-star revival of Shaw's Getting Married (Strand, 1967) and did a spell in the witness box as The Other Woman in Henry Cecil's A Woman Named Anne (Duke of York's, 1970).
When Move Over Mrs Markham, by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, had won her the Variety Club award for best actress she toured the play in Australia, and then went to South Africa in Cowardy Custard, the compilation from Noël Coward's writings, before returning to Britain as Yolande in Birds of Paradise (Garrick) and as Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (Guildford).
When Moira Lister was in her fifties and sharing a rug with an actor 24 years her junior, the question whether she was naked under it generated a degree of publicity for a piece called Murder Among Friends (Comedy, 1978). In 1984 she appeared in a revival of William Douglas-Home's comedy A Friend In Need (Shaftesbury).
On radio Moira Lister appeared in Hancock's Half Hour and series such as Simon and Laura. On television she had a spell as a panellist on Juke Box Jury and she appeared in various dramas.
Moira Lister held firm views about drama critics. While she herself was rarely a victim of an unkind comment, she believed that criticism should concern itself solely with whether, in the critic's opinion, a play would attract the general public and not whether the critic himself thought well or ill of it. In 1983 she spoke of issuing a writ against a magazine which had reprinted an unfavourable extract from a notice of a play she was in called Key for Two.
In 1969 she published an autobiography, The Very Merry Moira, in which she told a story about dining and dancing in London in 1946 with a handsome old acquaintance from South Africa who called himself George Armstrong. "He said that his wife had been killed in a car smash and I remember thinking: 'You're so attractive and amusing I wouldn't mind marrying you myself.' We had a wonderful evening dancing. Then he took me home, kissed me on both cheeks, and said goodbye."
Weeks later she learned that the man had been Neville Heath, who had murdered two women in 10 days. She observed: "My dinner date was sandwiched between the two murders. Both his victims were brunettes. Perhaps because I was a blonde it saved me."
Moira Lister continued to perform until she was over 80. Most recently she appeared in London with her one-woman show about Noël Coward. She received the Naledi Award for services to the theatre in South Africa.
She married, in 1951, the Vicomte d'Orthez, a French Army officer and owner of a champagne vineyard. The Vicomte, with whom she had two daughters, died in 1989.
From The Times
October 30, 2007
Actress who excelled in sparkling comedy roles ranging from Shakespeare to the moderns
As an actress, Moira Lister was once compared to the American comedienne Lucille Ball, because of her way of turning glamorous women into witty commentators on life. Whether it was in a play, musical, film or television drama or even as a guest on such TV shows as What's My Line?, Call My Bluff and Life Begins at Forty, she stood apart with her slim figure, bright blue eyes and delicate, upper-class voice.
She seemed to brim with sophistication. When Noël Coward first glimpsed her (in 1947) he declared: “Very interested in a girl called Moira Lister who read Joanna [Present Laughter] extremely well.” He subsequently cast her — triumphantly — opposite himself as his estranged but still loyal wife in a Haymarket revival of the play. By then she was a trouper. She had been on the stage for 18 years.
She was as good in classical revivals as modern light comedy, and she went on to prove it for the next half century. It was mainly in the modern repertoire, as wives who suspected their husbands of adultery, society women or outright gold-diggers that she flourished. On British television she is probably best remembered for two Alan Melville 1960s series, The Whitehall Worrier and The Very Merry Widow.
At 29 Lister married Vicomte Jacques Henry Guy d'Orthez, French cavalry officer and champagne producer. The marriage in no way interrupted her dramatic career.
“Frenchmen”, she once remarked, “are not afraid of intelligent women. Intelligent or brainy women usually find themselves being treated by Englishmen the same way they would treat a fellow. You know, like one of the boys.”
Her autobiography, The Very Merry Moira (1969), recounted a number of narrow escapes. Of dining and dancing in London in 1946 with a handsome male acquaintance, she wrote: “He said that his wife had been killed in a car smash, and I remember thinking ‘You're so attractive and amusing I wouldn't mind marrying you myself'. We had a wonderful evening dancing. Then he took me home, kissed me on both cheeks, and said goodbye.” When she learnt that the man had been Neville Heath, who had murdered two women in ten days, she commented: “My dinner date was sandwiched between the two murders.”
Born in Cape Town in 1923, the daughter of an army major, and educated at Parktown Convent, Johannesburg, Lister first appeared with the University Players in 1929 as the Prince in Ibsen's early play, The Vikings of Helgeland. She then acted opposite Sir Seymour Hicks in Vintage Wine in 1936 and later came to London. Her London debut was on April 12, 1937, as the 14-year-old Jeeby Cashler in Post Road at Golders Green Hippodrome.
She returned to South Africa to find work in rep — often with the stage and film producer, Leontine Sagan. But she was back in London in 1944 as Diana in a musical comedy Six Pairs of Shoes, directed by Sagan at the Playhouse.
Although she went on to spend seasons at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, and with John Clements's classical company in the West End and John Gielgud's company in the 1950s (from which she listed her favourite roles as being Juliet and Desdemona), it was as the vain hero's ever-loving wife in Present Laughter that she found her modern favourite. Her best comedy performance was perhaps the Princess in Peter Ustinov's portrait of male rivalry, The Love of Four Colonels.
She took part in the 1956 Gielgud tour, which ended at the Palace Theatre, playing Margaret in Much Ado about Nothing (a great revival) and a memorable Regan in the Japanese version of King Lear. In 1958-59 she took her one-woman show, People in Love, round Africa and Australia, returning to the West End for a year's run in Alec Coppell's The Gazebo. As Joanna Markham in Move over Mrs Markham (Vaudeville, 1971) Lister won the Variety Club of Great Britain award for the best stage actress.
In 1975 she played Dickens's Miss Havisham at Guildford, and, after a score or more of extramarital comedies and farces, was in a revival of The Aspern Papers at Wyndham's Theatre, in 1996 — Michael Redgrave's compelling adaptation of Henry James's story of a Venetian widow guarding a literary secret from an American predator.
Among her film credits were My Ain Folk (1944); Wanted for Murder (1946), playing a secretary unaware that her boss is a wanted killer; A Run for Your Money (1949); Grand National Night (1953); The Cruel Sea (1953) in which she played the beautiful, faithless wife of Denholm Elliott's naval officer; The Deep Blue Sea (1955); The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965) with Rex Harrison; and Not Now Darling (1972).
Her husband died in 1989 and she had latterly lived in Cape Town. She is survived by two daughters.
Moira Lister, actress, was born on August 6, 1923. She died on October 27, 2007, aged 84
Moira Lister,a gifted actress. She could act in comedy as well as dramatic. Talented,beautiful,a lady in all respect. Never,can I remember any scandal associated with this fine actress. She will be missed by many.