A FOCUS ON
Dulcie Winifred Catherine Denison, CBE (20 November 1915 – 15 November 2011), known professionally as Dulcie Gray, a British actress of stage, screen and television, singer and, a mystery writer.
Dulcie Gray was born in Kuala Lumpur, British Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1915, and attended school in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
Dulcie Gray – Her Early Life
After her father’s death, Dulcie Gray returned to Britain. Following a brief time at art school, she enrolled at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where she met fellow actor Michael Denison, she married in 1939. They were together for an incredible 59 years prior to his death in 1998, from Cancer. They had no children.
Dulcie Gray – Her Stage Life
The couple’s professional careers were intertwined, frequently appearing on stage together. Between them they starred in more than 100 West End plays and in the 40s and 50s, were familiar figures in British films. Onscreen they co-starred in both My Brother Jonathan and The Glass Mountain (1948), The Franchise Affair (1950) and the Battle of Britain movie Angels One Five (1952).
Gray was presented a contract with Gainsborough Pictures following her performance as the unfortunate waitress Rose in the original stage show of Brighton Rock, Garrick Theatre 1944. Sadly, she was pipped to the post for the role in the 1947 film version, in favour of Carol Marsh.
During the 40s, Gray appeared in Gainsborough television melodramas. Known to viewers as Kate Harvey in the BBC 80s drama series Howards’ Way (85–90).
They appeared in more than 100 productions together during their 59-year marriage, including their joint Broadway debut in the first New York production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband from May 1996 until January 1997.
Dulcie Gray – The Novelist
The actress also had a second career as a novelist, penning almost 20 books about dogged sleuth, Inspector Cardiff.
Several of her short stories were published in Herbert Van Thal’s Pan Book of Horror stories.
With Denison, Gray wrote some thoughts on her craft for young children, An Actor and His World. She also published Butterflies on My Mind, a work on the conservation and life of butterflies in Great Britain. She was also a patron at the Chiltern Shakespeare Company.
They were both awarded CBEs for services to drama in 1983.
Gray appeared on This Is Your Life twice, March 1973 surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Richmond Theatre, and then, Michael Aspel surprised her and her husband Michael Denison, on board the Sir Thomas More motorboat at Teddington Lock in April 1995.
In 1997, in an interview on UK Channel 5’s Five’s Company Gray gave an impromptu public performance of “You Tickle Me Spitless, Baby”. Surprising to many it never officially released as a record.
The year after her husband’s passing in 1999, Gray played Mrs Wilberforce in a UK tour of the 1955 Ealing classic film, The Ladykillers.
Her last appeared on screen was 2000 in a BBC episode of Doctors.
Dulcie Gray – Her Sad Passing
Dulcie Gray died on 15 November 2011, five days before her 96th birthday. She died from bronchial pneumonia, at Denville Hall, Northwood, Middlesex, an actors’ residential care home.
They had no children. Instead, they started sponsoring five-year-old Kenyan boy Silas Ogut in 1988.
They paid £20 a month for him to go to school in the Kenyan capital Nairobi through the charity SOS Children’s Villages, which provides homes for 78,000 orphaned or abandoned children in 125 countries.
Dulcie Gray left a touching legacy to an African orphan she supported for 20 years in her £1 million will.
She remembered him in her will by putting £5,000 in a trust fund to be paid at the rate of £1,000 a year or more at the discretion of her executors.
The will, drawn up in 2002, also left £5,000 to benefit other children in his Children’s SOS Village.
Dulcie Gray – Bibliography
1957 Murder on the Stairs
1958 Murder in Melbourne
1959 Baby Face
1960 Epitaph for a Dead Actor
1963 Murder in Mind
1964 The Devil Wore Scarlet
1964 No Quarter for a Star
1967 The Murder of Love
1968 Died in the Red
1969 Murder on Honeymoon
1970 For Richer For Richer
1971 Deadly Lampshade
1972 Understudy to Murder
1974 Dead Giveaway
1975 Ride on a Tiger
1979 Dark Calypso