Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts (20 September 1927 – 26 November 1980) was a Welsh actress noted for her fervour and passion; Roberts gave forthright performances in two key films of the 1960s.

After a Baptist upbringing (against which she rebelled), followed by the University of Wales and RADA, she began working with a repertory company in Swansea in 1950.[1] She made her film debut in the Welsh-set comedy Valley of Song (1953; directed by Gilbert Gunn).

Her portrayal of Brenda in Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) won her a BAFTA.[2] Lindsay Anderson cast her as the suffering Mrs Hammond in This Sporting Life (1963, another BAFTA and an Oscar nomination). Both films being good examples of the British New Wave of film making.

In theatre, she performeed at the Royal Court and was the life-enhancing tart Maggie May in Lionel Bart's musical (1964). In films she continued to play women with lusty appetites (as in Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man! (1973), although the haunting Australian-made Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, directed by Peter Weir) provided her with a different kind of role.

She appeared in supporting roles in several American films such as Foul Play (1978) after relocating to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, her final British film being Yanks (1979, directed by John Schlesinger), for which she received a Supporting Actress BAFTA.[3]

In 1979, Roberts co-starred with Jill Bennett in the London Weekend Television production of Alan Bennett's The Old Crowd, directed by Lindsay Anderson.
She married firstly Alan Dobie (1955–1961), then Rex Harrison (1962–1971).


[edit] Illness and death
Her alcoholism and depression increased after her divorce from Harrison in 1971. Devastated over their divorce, she moved to Hollywood in 1975 and tried to forget the relationship. In 1980 a final, futile attempt to win Harrison back proved unsuccessful. Impulsive and insecure, she died after committing suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on November 26, 1980 at her home in Los Angeles. Her gardener found her body in the kitchen, having smashed a glass divide between two rooms.[4] The coroner reported the cause of death as "swallowing a caustic substance" and later, "acute barbiturate intoxication".[4][5] It was ruled a suicide.[5] She was 53 years old.

She was cremated at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.[6] Her journals became the basis for No Bells on Sunday: The Memoirs of Rachel Roberts (1984).

Rachel Roberts

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