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Moira Lister

Full / Real Name: Moira Lister de Gachassin-Lafite, Vicomtesse d'Orth
Born: 06 August 1923 (100 years old)
Gender: Female

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Bio

Moira Lister (6 August, 1923 – 27 October, 2007) was a African actress and writer best known as a regular in the English radio show Hancock's Half Hour, from 1954-55.

She was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Her parents were the British Army Major James Lister and his wife Margaret Hogan. She was raised a Catholic and educated at the Parktown Convent of the Holy Family in Johannesburg.

She was given acting lessons from an early age and appeared on stage for the first time at six with the University of Johannesburg's theatre group.

At 14 she appeared with Sir Seymour Hicks in Vintage Wine – so impressed was Sir Seymour that he invited the young actress to make a film with him. The film was cancelled when they arrived back in England, but in lieu she made her first stage appearance in London in Post Road (1937).

She appeared in several more plays in South Africa before moving to England in 1944 where she had a successful run playing female leads with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford and made her first film appearance in Shipbuilders.

She continued to get regular film work and by the end of the decade was acting in television and radio plays, where her classic good looks and husky voice added to her noble image. She also appeared alongside Noel Coward in his comedy play Present Laughter in 1947. She would later stage a one-woman show about Coward.

She was generally cast as refined and sometimes cold-hearted by members of high society, but proved her acting skill in farces such as Don't Listen Ladies! (her 1948 Broadway debut) and with darkly-comedic roles such as hapless victim in Wanted for Murder (1946).

In the 1950s she acted alongside such luminaries as Vivien Leigh in The Deep Blue Sea (1955) and Tyrone Power in Seven Waves Away (1956) and was also cast in a string of successful Broadway productions.

She first worked with Tony Hancock in 1954, on the second season of his Star Bill radio show, replacing Hancock's previous lady foil, Geraldine McEwan. The following year she was part of a recurring cast in Hancock's Half Hour alongside the likes of Bill Kerr and Sid James.

She left Hancock's Half Hour after one season to concentrate on her film career, though it was the theatre that took up most of her time, with productions of King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing at the Palace Theatre, London.

She continued to spread her work in the different mediums throughout her career and was still acting in films and television as late as 1990.

She wrote an autobiography, The Very Merry Moira (named after the late '60s sitcom The Very Merry Widow in which she starred), in 1969 and was featured on This Is Your Life in 1971.

Among her honours for acting is the prestigious Naledi Award for a lifetime's services to South African theatre which she received in 2006.

Her final television role as as Lady Anne Fairchild in the kykNET comedy-drama series Geraldina die Tweede, in 2007.

She was devotedly married to Jacques de Gachassin-Lafite, Vicomte d'Orthez, a French cavalry officer who was a veteran of the Rif War, and they had two daughters, Chantal and Christobel. She died in Cape Town and was survived by her children.

Both she and her husband are buried in the churchyard of St Edward's Catholic church in Sutton Green, Surrey.


Television Roles

Show

Character

Lady Anne Fairchild


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