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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 27 December 1901Maida Vale, London, England, UK
Date of Death 29 November 1987Kensington, London, England, UK  (breast cancer)
Height 4' 11½" (1.51 m)

Mini Bio (1)

English character actress best known for her many portrayals of feisty cockney types, ranging from barmaids to landladies, charwomen to cooks. Unlike her working class screen personae, Irene's parentage was quite cosmopolitan, her father a Viennese banker, her mother a French aristocrat - affluent enough to enable her to travel extensively in her youth. She received her acting training at the Embassy School, under the auspices of the sister of Sybil Thorndike, but did not make her debut on the London stage until 1938, well into her middle age.

Her first successful role was in a West End comedy entitled 'George and Margaret' and this led to many other parts, including 'Blithe Spirit' by Noël Coward. From 1937, plump, cheerful Irene Handl became a popular supporting character in British films, usually in small roles or cameos, often as eccentric or pixillated old ladies. On occasion she could be a scene-stealer, as in I'm All Right Jack (1959) as the grumbling wife of shop steward Peter Sellers. She was also the definitive Mrs. Hudson, landlady to the famous detective at 221b Baker Street, in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

Irene Handl enjoyed a prolific career on radio (partnering Arthur Askey in 'Hello Playmates' and Tony Hancock in 'Hancock's Half Hour'), as well as in television. Her best-loved appearance was opposite Wilfred Pickles in the title role of Ada Cresswell in the sitcom For the Love of Ada (1970). She also made guest appearances in numerous shows, ranging from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955) to The Rag Trade (1977), and remained an active performer well into her eighties.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Trivia (5)

Wrote two novels: 'The Sioux' in 1965 and 'The Gold Tipped Phitzer' in 1966. Both books were noted for their originality and intricate literary style and went on to become bestsellers.
Born to a wealthy Austrian banker and an aristocraric Frenchwoman.
Did not take to the stage until she was 36.
She was a passionate fan of Elvis Presley and a leading member of his UK fan club in the 1970s.
In her old age, she was offered the role of Lady Bracknell in a revival of "The Importance Of Being Earnest". She accepted the role, but was appalled when the director, Jonathan Miller, insisted that she play the part with a thick German accent. She always referred to him thereafter as "that silly man".

Salary (1)

Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) £350

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