Joyce Grenfell

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Joyce Grenfell, born February 10, 1910 - died November 30, 1979, was a British film and television actress, comedienne, and singer-songwriter.

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Joyce Grenfell

Born Joyce Irene Phipps in London, she was the daughter of architect Paul Phipps and an eccentric American mother, Nora Langhorne, the daughter of an American railroad millionaire and sister of Nancy Astor. As such, Joyce Phipps grew up around money and privilege. Wanting to pursue a career in the theatre, she made her stage debut in 1939 in the "Little Revue." In 1942 she wrote what became her signature song, "I'm Going to See You Today."

During World War II, Grenfell toured India, North Africa, and the Middle East with a company performing for British troops. In 1989 her wartime journals were published under the title The Time of My Life: Entertaining the Troops. Her singing and comedic talents on stage led to offers to appear in motion picture comedies. Although she performed in a number of films, she continued with her recording career, producing a number of humoristic albums as well as books.

As a writer at the BBC during and just after the war, she collaborated with Stephen Potter in writing the "How" series of 30 satirical programs from "How to Talk to Children" to "How to Listen". During the 1950s she made her name as a sidekick to such comedy greats as Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford in films such as The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) and the St Trinian's series.

Grenfell is now best remembered for her one-woman shows and monologues, in which she invented roles including a harassed nursery teacher (George, don't do that). She gained additional popularity as a result of her frequent appearances on the BBC's classical music quiz show, Face the Music.

Diagnosed with cancer, she retired from performing and passed away in 1979. Her autobiography, The Time of My Life was published in 1990. In 1998, the British government memorialized Joyce Grenfell with her image on a postage stamp as part of a series of stamps celebrating "Heroes of Comedy".

In 2002, her friend and author Janie Hampton published the book Joyce Grenfell.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, she was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

Filmography

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