- See Jill Bennett (American actress) for the American actress with the same name.
Jill Bennett (December 24, 1931 - October 4, 1990) was a British actress, the fourth wife of playwright John Osborne.
Early life and career
She was born in Penang
, Federated Malay States
, to British parents, educated at Priors Field, an independent girls boarding school in Godalming
, and trained at RADA
. She made her stage début in the 1949 season at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
in Stratford upon Avon
, and her film début in Moulin Rouge
Bennett made many appearances in British films during the 1950s and 1960s, notably The Nanny (1965) (opposite Bette Davis), Inadmissible Evidence (1968), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and as Calphurnia to John Gielgud's Caesar in a 1970 version of Julius Caesar. She also had small roles in Britannia Hospital (1981), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Lady Jane (1986) and her final film performance in The Sheltering Sky (1990).
She made forays into television, most notably in Country with Wendy Hiller in 1981 and as the colourful Lady Grace Fanner in the 1985 adaptation of John Mortimer's novel,
Paradise Postponed. Among several other plays that he wrote for her, Osborne wrote the character of Annie in his play The Hotel in Amsterdam for her. But Bennett's busy schedule prevented her from playing the role until it was televised in 1971..
In 1979 she co-starred with Rachel Roberts in the LWT drama, The Old Crowd, directed by Lindsay Anderson with a screenplay by Alan Bennett, who later gently pointed out in the index to his collection of prose, Untold Stories (Faber 2005): "No relation."
She was the live-in companion of actor Godfrey Tearle
in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was married to screenwriter Willis Hall
and later to Osborne (who had been married three times before). She and Osborne divorced messily and decidedly non-amicably in 1978. She had no children.
She committed suicide in 1990, aged 58, having long-suffered from depression and the brutalizing effects of her marriage to the misogynistic
In 1992 her friend, director Lindsay Anderson
, included a touching episode in his autobiographical BBC film Is That All There Is?
, with a boat trip down the River Thames
(several of her professional colleagues and friends aboard) to scatter her ashes on the waters while musician Alan Price
sang the song Is That All There Is?
- Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford upon Avon, 1949 season
- Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, St Martin's Theatre, December 1949
- Anni in Captain Carvallo, St. James' Theatre, August 1950
- Iras in Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra, St. James' Theatre, May 1951
- Helen Eliot in The Night of the Ball, New Theatre, January 1955
- Masha in The Seagull, Saville Theatre, August 1956
- Mrs. Martin in The Bald Prima Donna, Arts Theatre, November 1956
- Sarah Stanham in The Touch of Fear, Aldwych Theatre, December 1956
- Isabelle in Dinner With the Family, New Theatre, December 1957
- Penelope in Last Day in Dreamland and A Glimpse of the Sea, Lyric Hammersmith, November 1959
- Susan Roper in Breakfast for One, Arts Theatre, April 1961
- Feemy Evans in The Showing Up of Blanco Posnet, and Lavinia in Androcles and the Lion, Mermaid Theatre, October 1961
- Estelle in In Camera (Huis Clos), Oxford Playhouse, February 1962
- Ophelia in Castle in Sweden, Piccadilly Theatre, May 1962
- Hilary in The Sponge Room, and Elizabeth Mintey in Squat Betty, Royal Court, December 1962
- Isabelle in The Love Game, New Arts Theatre, October 1964
- Countess Sophia Delyanoff in A Patriot for Me, Royal Court, June 1965
- Anna Bowers in A Lily in Little India, Hampstead Theatre Club, November 1965
- Imogen Parrott in Trelawney of the Wells, National Theatre at the Old Vic, August 1966
- Katerina in The Storm, National Theatre at the Old Vic, October 1966
- Pamela in Time Present, Royal Court, May 1968 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, July 1968 (for which she won the Variety Club and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress)
- Anna Bowers in Three Months Gone at the Royal Court in January 1970; at the Duchess Theatre in March 1970,
- Frederica in West of Suez, Royal Court, August 1971; Cambridge Theatre, October 1971
- Hedda in Hedda Gabler, Royal Court, June 1972
- Amanda in Private Lives (briefly taking over for Maggie Smith), Queen's Theatre, June 1973
- Leslie Crosbie in The Letter, Palace Theatre, Watford, July 1973
- Isobel Sands in The End of Me Old Cigar, Greenwich Theatre, January 1975
- Fay in Loot, Royal Court, June 1975
- Sally Prosser in Watch It Come Down, National Theatre at the Old Vic, February 1976 at the National Theatre at the Old Vic; March 1976 at the Lyttelton Theatre
- Mrs. Shankland and Miss Railton-Bell in Separate Tables, Apollo Theatre, January 1977
- Mrs. Tina in The Aspern Papers (1978); The Queen in The Eagle Has Two Heads (1979); and Maggie Cutler in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1979); all at the Chichester Festival Theatre
- Gertrude in Hamlet, Royal Court, April 1980
- Janine in Infidelities, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 1985; at the Donmar Warehouse in October 1985; and revived at the Boulevard Theatre in June 1986
- Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Stuart, Edinburgh Festival, August 1987
- Miss Singer in Exceptions, New End Theatre, Hampstead, July 1988
- Anne in Poor Nanny, King's Head Theatre, March 1989
- Who’s Who in the Theatre, 17th Edition, vol. #1 (Gale Research, 1981). ISBN 0810302357
- 25 Years of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court, Richard Findlater editor (Amber Lane Press, 1981). ISBN 090639922X
- Theatre Record (periodical indexes)