Dame Flora ROBSON DBE LLD (1902-1984)

Flora Robson
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An Actor's Life For Me

Spotlight on the stars of stage and screen

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Flora Robson, actress, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.

Flora trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating with a bronze medal, and made her stage debut in 1921, aged 19. Although she enjoyed some initial success, she lacked the convential good looks which were then an absolute requisite for actresses in dramatic roles, and she gave up the stage at the age of 23.

However, Flora was persuaded back to the theatre four years later by director Tyrone Guthrie, for his Old Vic company. It was during this time she had the opportunity to play a series of classical roles, which gained her critical and popular acclaim, and led to her becoming one of the finest dramatic actresses of her generation.

In cinema, Flora was often chosen for character roles, notably that of Queen Elizabeth I in both Fire Over England and The Sea Hawk. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Ingrid Bergman's servant in Saratoga Trunk.

Photographs of Flora Robson This Is Your Life

Flora Robson's biography

Writer Kenneth Barrow briefly mentions This Is Your Life in his biography Flora...

Shortly after her return from South Africa, Flora was the subject of This Is Your Life on BBC television.

Eamonn Andrews, the presenter, was somewhat apprehensive.

In those days the show was transmitted live and the previous week footballer Danny Blanchflower had refused to allow the invasion of his privacy, which meant that there had been no show.

Flora, on the other hand, was delighted to take part. Among the surprise guests was a colleague from Welwyn; Charles Laughton was seen in a filmed message from New York; Tony Guthrie, James Mason and Henry Oscar contributed memories.

The greatest surprise came when Paul Robeson’s massive frame appeared in the door.

Flora had led a campaign to have his passport restored by the American government and this was the first time she had seen him since then.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 151
  • Subject No: 151
  • Broadcast live: Mon 13 Feb 1961
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 6
  • Edition: 22

on the guest list...

  • James Mason
  • Henry Oscar
  • Billy Roux
  • Ursula Howells
  • Robert Crottet
  • Paul Robeson
  • Robert Beatty
  • Willibald Onitach
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Tyrone Guthrie
  • Charles Laughton

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Shirley MacNab
  • Writer: Robert Stuart
  • Director: Michael Goodwin
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 6 subjects: Leonard Cheshire > George Bennett > David Sheppard > Sybil Thorndike > Clarence Wolfe > Charles Coward > T E B Clarke > Helene Jeanty-Raven > Cyril Smith > Victor de Spiganovicz > Bill Hartley > Ellen Martha Field > Anthony Deane-Drummond > John Mills > Richard Bancroft > Freddie Mills > William Simpson > Alan Herbert > Madame Vacani > Elizabeth Ambridge > Robert Fawcus > Flora Robson > Edward Chad Varah > James Zarb > Maryan Rawicz and Walter Landauer > James Chipperfield > Anthony Kimmins > Thomas Cosmo Jones > Jessie Matthews > Helen Wilson > Charlie Chester > Brunel Cohen > Godfrey Winn > Billy Wright