Moira Lister, Posh Star of the London Stage, Dies at 84

Obituaries   Moira Lister, Posh Star of the London Stage, Dies at 84
Moira Lister, a British actress who appeared in the original production of Noel Coward's comedy Present Laughter, died 0ct. 27, the Guardian reported.

Coward was her co-star in the production, about a vainglorious stage actor beset upon by the various women in his life. Ms. Lister played his loyal, long-suffering wife. She continued her association with Coward throughout her life, starring in a one-woman show about the actor-playwright-songwriter and being a frequent guest at Noel Coward Society functions.

Ms. Lister also acted in such West End plays as Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears (1949), Peter Ustinov's The Love of Four Colonels (1951) and the Ray Cooney farce Move Over, Mrs Markham (1971). For the latter she won the Variety Club of Great Britain's award for Best Stage Actress. She was typically cast as a posh, glamorous, witty lady and, with her slim figure and blonde hair, filled the role to a "T." She made one appearance on Broadway, in 1948's Don't Listen, Ladies, which lasted but a only a couple weeks.

Moira Lister was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1923 to army Major James Lister and his wife, Margaret. She made her London stage debut at 14. In 1951, she married Jacques de Gachassin-Lafite Vicomte d'Orthez, a descendent of a distinguished French-Belgian family and a French cavalry officer. They had two daughters, Chantal and Christobel.

Her films included "The Deep Blue Sea" (1955), "The Yellow Rolls Royce" (1964) with Rex Harrison and "The Double Man" (1967) with Yul Brynner. On television, she was the star of the sitcom "The Very Merry Widow." She published her autobiography "The Very Merry Moira" in 1969.

In the 1940s, she unknowingly went on a dinner date with notorious British murderer Neville Heath; she did not know his real name at the time. Heath had murdered a woman a week before the date, and murdered another a couple weeks later. When she later learned his identity, she seemed to take the thing in stride, saying, in a line worthy of Coward, "My dinner date was sandwiched between the two murders."

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