Dame (Florence) Lilian Braithwaite



  • (1873 - 1948) British actress, noted for her sentimentaland light-comedy roles. She made her professional debut in South Africaand subsequently acted in Shakespeare with Frank Benson's companyand in lighter works with George Alexander's company at the St James'Theatre. Her most acclaimed roles included the society mother in NoëlCoward's The Vortex (1924) and one of the murderous old ladiesin Arsenic and Old Lace (1942). After one wartime performanceof the latter play, she had to take refuge during a particularly prolongedair-raid. Asked the next day if she was exhausted, Braithwaite replied,"Certainly not. We were £50 up last night."

    She was playing a part based on Mrs Patrick Campbellin Ivor Novello's Party, when she ran into Mrs Pat herself,who was leaving on tour. "Oh, Lilian, I hear you are a perfecttour de force playing me!" said Mrs Pat, "and hereI am forced to tour!" But Braithwaite had as quick a wit asCampbell. A young actress once expressed regret that Braithwaite wasin the matinee audience because "I always feel I must save myselffor the evening performance." Braithwaite shook her head: "Ididn't think you saved anything." Commenting on actress YvonneArnaud, who had put on weight, she noted, "It's still the dearlittle face we all loved so in By Candle Light." Aftera pause, she added, "But there's another face round it."