Jill Bennett in trailer for The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
Nora Noel Jill Bennett
24 December 1931
|Died||4 October 1990 (aged 58)|
|Cause of death||Suicide|
Willis Hall (m. 1962–1965)
John Osborne (m. 1968–1978)
Nora Noel Jill Bennett (24 December 1931 - 4 October 1990) was an English actress, and the fourth wife of playwright John Osborne.
Bennett was born in Penang, the Straits Settlements, to British parents, educated at Prior's Field School, an independent girls boarding school in Godalming, and trained at RADA. She made her stage début in the 1949 season at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, and her film début in The Long Dark Hall (1951) with Rex Harrison.
Bennett made many appearances in British films including Lust for Life (1956), The Criminal (1960), The Nanny (1965), The Skull (1965), Inadmissible Evidence (1968), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Julius Caesar (1970), I Want What I Want (1972), Mister Quilp (1975), Full Circle (1977) and Britannia Hospital (1982). She also appeared in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), Lady Jane (1986) and Hawks (1988). Her final film performance was in The Sheltering Sky (1990).
She made forays into television, such as roles in Play for Today (Country, 1981), with Wendy Hiller, and as the colourful Lady Grace Fanner in John Mortimer's adaptation of his own novel, Paradise Postponed (1985). Among several roles, Osborne wrote the character of Annie in his play The Hotel in Amsterdam (1968) for her. But Bennett's busy schedule prevented her from playing the role until it was screened on television in 1971.
She was the live-in companion of actor Godfrey Tearle in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was married to screenwriter Willis Hall and later to John Osborne. She and Osborne divorced acrimoniously in 1978. She had no children.
She died by suicide in October 1990, aged 58, having long suffered from depression and the brutalising effects of her marriage to Osborne (according to Osborne's biographer). She did this by taking an overdose of Quinalbarbitone. Osborne, who was subject during her life to a restraining order regarding written comments about her, immediately wrote a vituperative chapter about her to be added to the second volume of his autobiography. The chapter, in which he rejoiced at her death, caused great controversy.
In 1992, Bennett's ashes, along with those of her friend, the actress Rachel Roberts (who also died by suicide, in 1980), were scattered by their friend Lindsay Anderson on the waters of the River Thames in London. Anderson, with several of the two actresses' professional colleagues and friends, took a boat trip down the Thames, and the ashes were scattered while musician Alan Price sang the song "Is That All There Is?" The event was included in Anderson's autobiographical BBC documentary Is That All There Is? (1992).
|1951||The Long Dark Hall||First murdered girl|
|1954||Hell Below Zero||Gerda Petersen|
|1954||Aunt Clara||Julie Mason|
|1956||The Extra Day||Susan|
|1956||Lust for Life||Willemien|
|1965||The Skull||Jane Maitland|
|1965||The Nanny||Aunt Pen|
|1968||The Charge of the Light Brigade||Mrs. Duberly|
|1972||I Want What I Want||Margaret Stevenson|
|1975||Mister Quilp||Sally Brass|
|1977||Full Circle||Lily Lofting|
|1981||For Your Eyes Only||Jacoba Brink|
|1982||Britannia Hospital||Dr. MacMillan: Medicos|
|1986||Lady Jane||Mrs. Ellen|
|1990||The Sheltering Sky||Mrs. Lyle||(final film role)|