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Caroline Aherne (1963–2016), by Trevor Leighton, 1999

© Trevor Leighton/National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aherne, Caroline Mary (1963–2016), comedian, actress, and writer, was born on 24 December 1963 at Perivale maternity hospital, London, the second child of Bartholomew Edmond (Bert) Aherne (1933–1994), a railwayman with London Transport, and his wife Mary Frances (Maureen), née Regan...

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Alexander, Jean [real name Jean Margaret Hodgkinson] (1926–2016), actress, was born on 11 October 1926 at 18 Rhiwlas Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, the second child of Archibald Alexander (Archie) Hodgkinson (1895–1969), electrician, and his wife Ellen Frances (Nell), née Hill...

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Ashcroft, Dame Edith Margaret Emily [Peggy] (1907–1991), actress, was born on 22 December 1907 in Croydon, Surrey, the second of two children of William Worsley Ashcroft (1878–1918), a land agent, and his wife, Violetta Maud, née Bernheim (1874–1926), a keen amateur actress of Danish and German-Jewish descent. Known from childhood as ...

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Dame Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft (1907–1991) by Jorge Lewinski, 1968 [with Variation on Peggy by Walter Sickert, 1934–5] © Jorge Lewinski; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hermione Youlanda Ruby Clinton Baddeley (1906–1986) by Dudley Glanfield © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Baddeley, Hermione Youlanda Ruby Clinton (1906–1986), actress, was born on 13 November 1906 in Broseley, Shropshire, the youngest of four daughters (there were no sons) of William Herman Clinton-Baddeley, composer and journalist, and his wife, Louise Rosalie Bourdin. A descendant both of Sir Henry Clinton (1738?–1795)...

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Baker [married name Pearson], Hylda (1905–1986), comedian, was born on 14 February 1905 at Farnworth, Bolton, Lancashire, the eldest of the seven children (three boys, four girls) of Harold (Chukky) Baker (1884–1966), comedian, and Margaret Halliwell, seamstress, both of Farnworth. She was chiefly educated at ...

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Balcon, Jill Angela Henriette (1925–2009), actress, was born on 3 January 1925 at 50 Ashley Gardens, Westminster, the elder child and only daughter of Sir Michael Elias Balcon (1896–1977), film producer, and his wife, Aileen Freda, formerly Jacobs, née Leatherman (1904–1988), both of Baltic–Jewish descent. Educated at ...

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Jill Angela Henriette Balcon (1925–2009) by Mark Gerson, 1961 © Mark Gerson / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Balfour, Betty (b. 1902?, d. 1977), actress, was, according to her death certificate, born in London on 23 March 1902, though other sources give 27 March 1903 (1939 register). There is no evidence to corroborate these dates, or to identify her parents. In later interviews she stated that her mother had died when she was nearly two and that she had been brought up by her uncle and aunt, Colonel and Mrs ...

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Balfour, Betty (1902–1977), actress, was born Florence Lilian Woods, on 27 March 1902, at 112 Kennington Road, Lambeth, London, the daughter of Alfred Woods (1868–1924), commission agent and later an attendant at a music hall, and his wife Lilian Katie, née...

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Bellingham, Lynda [née Meredith Lee Hughes] (1948–2014), actress, broadcaster, and writer, was born on 31 May 1948 in Montreal, Canada, the daughter of Carl Seymour Hutton (1896/7–1959) and Marjorie Bond, née Hughes (1917–2012). At the age of four months she was adopted by an English couple, Capt. ...

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Bennett, (Nora Noel) Jill (1926–1990), actress, was born in Penang, Malaya, on 24 December 1926, the only child of (James) Randle Bennett (1887–1969), an owner of rubber plantations, and his wife, Nora Adeline, née Beckett (1887–1978). Her death certificate claims that she was born in 1931, but she was reticent about her date of birth. In ...

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Maker: Patrick Procktor

(Nora Noel) Jill Bennett (1929?–1990) by Patrick Procktor, 1972 © Patrick Procktor

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Brown, Janet McLuckie (1923–2011), actress and impressionist, was born on 14 December 1923 at 26 Hamilton Road, Rutherglen, near Glasgow, the daughter of Andrew Brown, a sheet-iron worker in the Clyde shipyards, and his wife, Helen McLuckie, née Russell. She was educated at ...

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Janet McLuckie Brown (1923–2011) by Denis Jones, 1979 © Denis Jones / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features

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Pamela Mary Brown (1917–1975) by Anthony Buckley, 1949 © Kenneth Hughes / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Brown, Pamela Mary (1917–1975), actress, was born at 45 Howitt Road, Hampstead, London, on 8 July 1917, the daughter of George Edward Brown, a journalist, and his wife, Helen Blanche Ellerton. She was educated at St Mary's Convent, Ascot, and subsequently studied at the ...

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Bryan, Dora [née Dora May Broadbent; married name Lawton] (1923–2014), actress, was born on 7 February 1923 in Mill Lane, Parbold, Lancashire, the second child and first daughter of Albert Broadbent, a cotton yarn salesman and former private in the 5th North Lancashire regiment...