Jill Bennett (British actress)

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Jill Bennett
BornNora Noel Jill Bennett
(1931-12-24)24 December 1931
Penang, Straits Settlements
Died4 October 1990(1990-10-04) (aged 58)
London, England, UK
Years active1951-1990
Spouse(s)Willis Hall (m. 1962–1965)
John Osborne (m. 1968–1978)
 
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Jill Bennett
BornNora Noel Jill Bennett
(1931-12-24)24 December 1931
Penang, Straits Settlements
Died4 October 1990(1990-10-04) (aged 58)
London, England, UK
Years active1951-1990
Spouse(s)Willis Hall (m. 1962–1965)
John Osborne (m. 1968–1978)

Jill Bennett (24 December 1931 – 4 October 1990) was a British actress, and the fourth wife of playwright John Osborne.

Early life and career[edit source | edit]

She was born in Penang, The Straits Settlements, to British parents, educated at Prior's Field School, an independent girls boarding school in Godalming, and trained at RADA. She made her stage début in the 1949 season at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, and her film début in The Long Dark Hall (1951) with Rex Harrison.

Bennett made many appearances in British films during the 1950s and 1960s, notably The Nanny (1965) (with Bette Davis), Inadmissible Evidence (1968), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Calpurnia to John Gielgud's Caesar in a 1970 version of Julius Caesar and as Margaret Stevenson in I Want What I Want (film) (1972). She also had small roles in Britannia Hospital (1982), as a world renowned ice skating coach in For Your Eyes Only (1981), Lady Jane (film) (1986) and her final film performance in The Sheltering Sky (1990).

She made forays into television, most notably in Country with Wendy Hiller in 1981, and as the colourful Lady Grace Fanner in the adaptation of John Mortimer's novel, Paradise Postponed (1985). Among several roles, Osborne wrote the character of Annie in his play The Hotel in Amsterdam for her. But Bennett's busy schedule prevented her from playing the role until it was televised in 1971.[1]

In 1979, she co-starred with Rachel Roberts in the LWT drama, The Old Crowd, directed by Lindsay Anderson with a screenplay by Alan Bennett, who later pointed out in the index to his collection of prose, Untold Stories (Faber 2005): "No relation."

Marriages[edit source | edit]

She was the live-in companion of actor Godfrey Tearle in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was married to screenwriter Willis Hall and later to Osborne (who had been married three times already). She and Osborne divorced messily and decidedly non-amicably in 1978. She had no children.

Death[edit source | edit]

She committed suicide in October 1990, aged 58, having long suffered from depression and the brutalizing effects of her marriage to Osborne (according to Osborne's biographer).[2] She did this by taking an overdose of Quinalbarbitone.[3]

In 1992, Bennett's ashes, along with those of her friend, the actress Rachel Roberts (who also committed suicide, in 1980), were scattered by their director friend Lindsay Anderson, on the waters of the River Thames in London. Anderson, with several of the two actresses' professional colleagues and friends, took a boat trip down the River Thames, and the ashes were scattered while musician Alan Price sang the song "Is That All There Is?" The event was included in Anderson's autobiographical BBC documentary film, Is That All There Is?

Theatre career[edit source | edit]

Radio Theatre[edit source | edit]

Masha in The Three Sisters/TRI SESTRY, BBC Home Service Radio 1965. Directed by John Tyneman. Cast included Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave and Wilfrid Lawson.

References[edit source | edit]

Theatre Sources[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]