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Feted Brighton actress Dora, 90, to make rare public appearance
For six decades, she has been a part of the world of showbusiness as a star of screen and stage.
But after being confined to a care home following the death of her husband Bill Lawton, actress and comedienne Dora Bryan is set to make her first public appearance in five years at a lavish tribute to her glittering career.
Since making her stage debut as a child in a pantomime, the 90-year-old made a name for herself by starring in series such as Last of the Summer Wine, the St Trinian’s films and Absolutely Fabulous.
She last appeared in public at the funeral of her husband in 2008 at St George’s Church, in Kemp Town, Brighton.
But in two weeks Dora will roll back the years as an exhibition on her life opens at Rottingdean Museum with legendary singer Sir Cliff Richard among those on the guest list.
Dora’s son William Lawton, 51, said: “My brother Daniel and I are delighted that this wonderful tribute to my mother is happening now, during her lifetime. I have told her about it and she seemed really pleased and happy.
“She is now 90. She is actually a year older than it states in most reference books.
“She is rather frail and is confined to a wheelchair, but I am determined to try to get her to the exhibition, even if all she does is to cut a ribbon to declare it open.
“It would mean so much to her to know that she is still loved and remembered.”
Exhibits at Miss Show Business: Dora Bryan, A Celebration will include the best actress BAFTA she won for her role in 1961 production A Taste of Honey, the Laurence Olivier Award for Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party at the National Theatre in 1994, and the OBE received in 1996.
Museum curator Marcus Bagshaw said: “Dora’s son William is not only lending us all her awards for display, but also her personal scrapbooks, which go right back to her childhood, and are an absolute treasure trove of theatrical memorabilia.
“We are inviting her close friend, Sir Cliff Richard, who co-starred with her in the 1967 film, Two A Penny, and also Rita Tushingham and Murray Melvin, who appeared with her in A Taste of Honey, to attend the opening.”
Dora and Bill, who was a former cricketer, owned Clarges Hotel in Marine Parade, Brighton, and lived in a flat in the building for many years. They lived together at Springfields Nursing Home in Hove up until his death.
The exhibition will open at 6.30pm on September 13.
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