The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004

By Elizabeth Ewan; Sue Innes et al. | Go to book overview

U

URE, JoanseeCLARK, Elizabeth Thomson (Betty)

(1918–78)

URE, Mary, born Kelvinside, Glasgow, 18 Feb. 1933, died London 3 April 1975. Actor. Daughter of Edith Swinburne, and Colin McGregor Ure, engineer.

Educated in Glasgow and at the Mount School, York, Mary Ure was an actor of skill, range and beauty, frequently cast in vulnerable roles. She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, making her debut at the Manchester Opera House in 1953 in Alan Melville's Simon and Laura. Her potential was swiftly recognised, and she made a dazzling West End debut at the London Arts Theatre in 1954 in Anouilh's Time Remembered. In 1955 she played Ophelia to Paul Scofield's Hamlet, appearing in this production in Moscow on stage and television. Her most memorable roles came at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in the spring of 1956 – Abigail in the first British production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and Alison in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. She also played Alison in the film version (opposite Richard Burton) and on the New York stage. Mary Ure married John Osborne (1929–94) in 1957; a tempestuous union, it ended in divorce five years later, when their son was one year old. By this time, she had fallen in love with Robert Shaw (1927–78), appearing with him in the Elizabethan comedy The Changeling at the Royal Court in 1961. They married in 1963 and had four children. Mary Ure played leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. Her films included Storm Over the Nile (1955), Sons and Lovers (for which she received an Academy Award Nomination in 1960), Custer of the West (1967) and Where Eagles Dare (1968). She claimed, however, that her preference was for the theatre and that she appeared in films to please her husbands. She returned to the stage in 1975, giving a powerful performance in Don Taylor's The Exorcism at the Comedy Theatre, London. On the evening of the first night of this production, a cocktail of whisky and tranquillisers led to her untimely death. DC

ODNB (2004); The Scotsman, 6 April 1975 (obit.).

URQUHART, Mary Sinclair (Molly), m. McIntosh, born Glasgow 21 Jan. 1906, died Glasgow 5 Oct. 1977. Actor and theatre director. Daughter of Ann McCallum, post office clerk, and William Urquhart, sea-going engineer.

Molly Urquhart was the eldest of three surviving daughters of parents from Tiree and Wester Ross. Two sisters died in infancy and she had two younger siblings. She lived all her life in Glasgow, in the West End and, after marriage, in Ibrox, enjoying a career of local, national and international activity and success. She attended Dowanhill Primary School and Church Street School before working in a local shop and then passing an exam to join the GPO. As a teenager, she acted in the flourishing Glasgow amateur sector with the St George Players and with Glasgow's two influential 'little theatres', the Tron and the Curtain. She began working professionally in 1932 as a member of a Howard and Wyndham company. On 1 August 1934, she married police officer William McIntosh (1900–59); they had one son, James. In 1936, she appeared at Gourock with the Sheldon Brown Rep and was a member of the repertory company at the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, appearing in character roles in productions of Somerset Maugham, Emlyn Williams and Ivor Novello.

In 1939, she founded the MSU (Molly Sinclair Urquhart) Theatre in Rutherglen, a venture she managed, directed for and acted with until 1944. Based in the converted Congregational Church in East Main Street, the theatre opened with Merton Hodge's The Wind and the Rain on 2 May 1939. The company was a significant training ground for local amateur talent, including Gordon Jackson, Duncan Macrae and Nicholas Parsons, who went on to professional careers. The MSU project coincided with the launch of the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow (1943), where almost all of MSU's nascent professionals were later employed. Molly Urquhart made her own Citizens' debut in its first season, as Molly Cudden in J. B. Priestley's Bull Market, and her London debut in 1945 at Sadlers Wells as Mrs Grant in James Bridie's The Forrigan Reel. Subsequent roles included Jeanie in Dr Angelus at the Phoenix opposite Alistair Sim (1947), and Dame Sensualitie in the modern production of Lindsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh (1948). Her appearances in the Citizens' pantomimes, most famously in The Tintock Cup in 1949–50, were extremely popular. In the 1950s, she combined performances in the Five Past Eight Shows and standard rep work in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Film work included notable roles in Geordie (1955), The Nuns Story (1958) and The Sundowners (i960). In later life, her focus returned to the amateur sector and charitable ventures and she was a champion of community-based activities in the Cessnock, Ibrox and Pollokshields areas of Glasgow. AS

• Univ. of Glasgow, Scottish Theatre Archive: Molly Urquhart Collection. Murdoch, H. (1981) Tavelling Hopefully: the story of Molly Urquhart; ODNB (2004).

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The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Advisers to the Project viii
  • Contributors ix
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Readers' Guide xxiii
  • Introduction xxv
  • The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women 1
  • A 3
  • B 21
  • C 56
  • D 90
  • E 109
  • F 115
  • G 130
  • H 153
  • I 177
  • J 181
  • K 188
  • L 200
  • M 214
  • N 280
  • O 285
  • P 289
  • Q 294
  • R 295
  • S 310
  • T 350
  • U 358
  • V 359
  • W 361
  • Y 383
  • Z 384
  • Thematic Index 386
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