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Eileen Way obituary

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1994-06-30 Stage and Television Today.jpg


Believe me, walking down the street with the actress EILEEN WAY (who died June 16), was an experience. People always did a double-take, and looked at her again. She was not a 'star' in the tabloid sense, but people never forgot her extraordinary face: the hair pulled tightly back, the huge eyes, the high cheekbones.

They may have seen her years ago with Kirk Douglas in The Vikings, they may have seen her at the end of last year, unbelievably aged 81, in top hat and tails in The Sean Hughes Show - anyway they remembered her.

They may, of course, have seen her on the Aldermaston marches with her beloved husband, the consultant psychiatrist Felix Brown, whose death in the seventies left Eileen so bereft.

Eileen Way, a graduate from RADA in the twenties, was in several of the first productions of Tennessee Williams' plays in this country, playing the haunt ing, half-frightening Mexican woman in Laurence Olivier s production of A Streetcar Named Desire in London. She appeared in Sam Wanamaker's production of The Rose Tattoo and Peter Hall's production of Camino Real.

She worked at the Bristol Old Vic, and with Stuart Burge at the Nottingham Playhouse - unforgettable in DH Lawrence's The Daughter-in-Law and in the wonderful first English production of The Idiot.

Her television credits read like a history of British television: The Newcomers. The Doctors, Dixon of Dock Green, Upstairs Downstairs, Poldark, Z Cars, Hancock's Half Hour, Minder, By the Sword Divided, Vanity Fair - the list goes on and on and includes the fact that she was in the first series of Doctor Who. When she was 80 she went to the Dr Who reunion!

She also made more than a dozen films apart from her famous appearance in The Vikings - the last one Jon Amiel's Queen of Hearts where she played an Italian grandmother in London's Italian quarter.

She had a huge number of friends of all ages because she was an extraordinarily kind woman and because she had an enquiring mind and was interested in absolutely everything (she once introduced me to a pop group called Spyro Gyra).

She could talk about politics for hours, probably her greatest interest - which she kept up almost literally to the day she died. She also moved about a great deal.

If you were appearing in rep somewhere she would often pop up in the audience; she was 80 when she last went to Morocco for Christmas. (which had become one of the wonderful Brown family's eccentric traditions).

Because of her looks she was always playing Italians and Greeks and gypsies and Mexicans but she was in fact a middle-class resident of Highgate for much of her life and could be a rather alarming figure when you first met her.

Not long out of drama school I shared a dressing room with her at the Nottingham Playhouse and felt rather timid, having heard her loud voice and having seen her wonderful performance as the matriarch in The-Daughter-in-Law.

One day I found on my place in the empty dressing room a tiny antique pillbox with gold Victorian writing on the lid which read "you are witty and pretty." I'm not sure that either of these sentiments was true exactly but I loved Eileen Way from that day and like her family and her many friends, and the people in the street, and no doubt people in Morocco too, I will miss her terribly.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Ewing, Barbara (1994-06-30). Eileen Way obituary. The Stage and Television Today p. 27.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Ewing, Barbara. "Eileen Way obituary." The Stage and Television Today [add city] 1994-06-30, 27. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Ewing, Barbara. "Eileen Way obituary." The Stage and Television Today, edition, sec., 1994-06-30
  • Turabian: Ewing, Barbara. "Eileen Way obituary." The Stage and Television Today, 1994-06-30, section, 27 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Eileen Way obituary | url= | work=The Stage and Television Today | pages=27 | date=1994-06-30 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=27 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Eileen Way obituary | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=27 May 2024}}</ref>