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Rachel Roberts 1927 - 1980



Rachel Roberts was born in Llanelli. Her Father was Reverend Richard Rhys Roberts. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she was awarded the Athene Seyler Award for Comedy. She first appeared in Rep at The Grand in 1950, appearing in plays like “Family Portrait”, “Bonaventure”and  “Crime Passionel” - which also had in its cast Kenneth Williams from the “Carry On’s” And Wilfrid Bramble from “Steptoe and Son” – She married the stage actor Alan Dobie in 1955, which lasted until 1961. Her screen debut came in the 1953 film “Valley of Song”. Rachel appeared in the Film “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” in 1960 to critical acclaim and won the first of her two BAFTA’s for Best British Actress. She met and married Rex Harrison in 1962 and was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress in “This Sporting Life”, which also starred Richard Harris. Rex was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Cleopatra at the same award ceremony in 1964. Unfortunately neither won. After many screen appearances she returned to the Grand Theatre stage on 29th September 1969 – a week after the Grand re-opened as a Civic Theatre - in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf”, which ironically starred her ex husband Alan Dobie and Joanna Van Gyseghem (who played Linda in the sit com “Duty Free” in the 80’s) by all accounts Rex came to the theatre and glared at Rachel through every performance. He was unapproachable, and very rude. Rachel’s mother lived in Townhill then, and Rachel arranged for the Grand management to provide seats for her mother to come to see her. Rachel had an account with a local taxi firm, who would take her mother for lunch everyday at the Dragon Hotel, and long after she went back to the USA her mother would come to the Grand to see the shows each week. After Her divorce from Rex Harrison in 1971 she continued in supporting roles in films including "Doctor's Wives", "Murder on the Orient Express", "Picnic at Hanging Rock", "Foul Play", "When a Stranger Calls" "Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen". She also appeared in “Yanks” with Richard Gere in 1979, Sadly she suffered in her private life and in 1980 she committed suicide in an apparent “barbiturate overdose” at her home in California. Another prestigious Welsh talent was gone, she was just 53.