Joyce Grenfell

(1910 - 1979)

A photo of Joyce Grenfell
Joyce (Phipps) Grenfell
1910 - 1979
Born
February 10, 1910
Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Death
November 30, 1979
London, Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Other Names
Joyce Grenfell
Summary
Joyce Grenfell was born on February 10, 1910 in England United Kingdom. She was born into the Phipps family and married into the Grenfell family. She died on November 30, 1979 in London, England United Kingdom at 69 years of age.
Updated: March 02, 2020
1 Follower
ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM
Joyce Grenfell
Born February 10, 1910 in Knightsbridge, London, England, UK. Both of her parents were born in the United States.
Died November 30, 1979 in Chelsea, London, England, UK
Birth Name Joyce Irene Phipps
Toothy Britisher Joyce Grenfell with her stark, equine features charmed and humored audiences both here and abroad on radio, stage, revues, film and TV for nearly four decades. Lovingly remembered as a delightfully witty monologist and raconteur, she inherited her bold talents from her eccentric socialite mother, who just so happened to be American and the sister of Lady Nancy Astor. Born Joyce Irene Phipps in 1910, her father was an American architect and she was educated both in London and Paris. Her first job in the entertainment business was as a radio critic columnist. In 1939, she performed in her first revue wherein her spot-on impersonations, characterizations and satirical songs became a big hit. One song "I'm Going to See You Today", which she herself wrote in 1942, became her signature song. Performing for the troops during WWII, she finally was sought after for films, finding an opening playing gawky matrons in rollicking comedies. The best of the lot would include The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950), Laughter in Paradise (1951), The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954), and the resulting 'Trinian' sequels. She also put out highly popular comedy albums over the years. Joyce's last performance was in 1973 before Queen Elizabeth and her guests at Windsor Castle. Her health began to fail soon after. An eye infection resulted in a loss of sight in one eye and she was forced to retire. Six years later the eye was diagnosed as cancerous and, though it was removed, she continued to decline, dying on November 30, 1979 at home. She was later commemorated on a postage stamp.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / [contact link]
Spouse (1)
Reggie Grenfell (1929 - 30 November 1979) ( her death)
Trivia (7)
Her mother married Maurice 'Lefty' Flynn in 1930.
One aunt, Nancy Astor, was married to Waldorf Astor, her aunt Irene to Charles Dana Gibson.
Mother was Nora Langhorne of the Virginia Langhornes.
She died a month before she was to be awarded the DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1980 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to entertainment.
Sister of writer Thomas Phipps.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1946 King's Birthday Honours List for her services to the Forces during World War II.
As lyricist, co-wrote with composer Richard Addinsell many songs for revues and for her own one-woman shows.
Show & Tell Her Story
Share your memories, family stories, & photos so that Joyce is always remembered.
Biography
Joyce Grenfell
Most commonly known name
Joyce (Phipps) Grenfell
Full name
Joyce Grenfell
Nickname(s) or aliases
Female
Gender
Joyce Grenfell was born on in Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Birth
Joyce Grenfell died on in London, Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Death
Joyce Grenfell was born on in Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Joyce Grenfell died on in London, Greater London County, England United Kingdom
Birth
Death
Heritage
Childhood
Adulthood

Military Service

During World War II, she toured battle areas with a troupe going as far east as India.
During the Second World War, Grenfell toured North Africa, Southern Italy, the Middle East and India with her pianist Viola Tunnard, performing for British troops. In 1989, her wartime journals were published under the title The Time of My Life: Entertaining the Troops.
Obituary

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different Joyce Grenfell?
View other bios of people named Joyce Grenfell

Joyce's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Grenfell family tree.

Joyce's Family

Parent
Parent
Joyce Grenfell
Partner
Child
Partner
Child
Sibling

Friends:

Leave a comment to ask questions, share information, or simply to show that you care about Joyce.

Share Joyce's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

Joyce Grenfell, 69, British Actress
By THOMAS LASK DEC. 1, 1979
December 1, 1979, Page 47
The New York Times Archives
Joyce Grenfell, the British actress whose sketches and impersonations on stage and screen of a variety of well‐intentioned but slightly daffy British upper class ladies delighted viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, died yesterday in London She was 69 years old.
Mrs. Grenfell ‐the wife of a mining executive, Reginald Grenfell — was a tall, slim, charming woman with a rather toothy smile that became one of the hallmarks of her performances. She had an eye for the revealing platitude and for the well‐meaning but bumbling mannerisms of her countrywomen. In a series of sketches, monologues and songs, she incorporated them into her own shows and those of others.
Two of her one‐woman shows, “Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure” (1955) and “Joyce Grenfell” (1958), were seen on Broadway. Of the former, Walter Kerr wrote: “Miss Grenfell seems to me to have built for herself a small but quite valid theater of her own. What she does is to take a familiar, sometimes almost routine little snapshot of overheard life, define the comment she wants to make on it, then expand the picture to the precisely controlled, severely stylized dimensions of the musical stage.”
Memorable Parts
In films, she appeared as a lanky gym mistress in “The Happiest Day of Your Life”; as a woman sleuth in “The Bells of St. Trinian's”; as an eager saleswoman in “A Run for Your Money” with Alec Guinness. In these and other pictures, the parts were small but memorable and they were recalled long after the pictures themselves faded from the mind. She did concede once that she was getting tired of making fun of silly women for money.
The London‐born actress described herself as three‐quarters American because her father, Paul Phipps, was American born, and her mother was Nancy Langhorne of Virginia, one of the famous Langhorne sisters. One aunt was Lady Astor; another was the wife of Charles Dana Gibson, the artist.
She loved the theater from childhood and, as a young woman, was sent to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for training. But her plans were interrupted by marriage. Instead of looking for acting jobs, she began to contribute light verse to Punch and other magazines and wrote for The Observer.
Discovered at Party
At a party one evening, she entertained the guests with a lecture, “How to Make a Boutonniere Out of Beech Nut Husks Clusters.” At the party was the producer Herbert Farjeon, who was entranced and invited her to join his “The Little Revue.” It was the beginning of her career.
During World War II, she toured battle areas with a troupe going as far east as India. In addition to her stage and screen work she appeared on BBC radio in quiz and discussion programs. On one, “Trans‐Atlantic Quiz,” she was the quiz mistress.
In 1946, she was named Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Her husband survives.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Joyce's lifetime.

In 1910, in the year that Joyce Grenfell was born, the Mexican revolution began. Dictator Porfirio Díaz had ruled for 35 years and was nationally unpopular. When elections were held in 1910 and a rigged election kept Diaz in office. The uprising began - and lasted for another 10 years.

In 1930, by the time she was 20 years old, on August 6th, N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater went through papers in his office, destroyed some of them, withdrew all his money from the bank - $5,150, sold his stock, met friends at a restaurant for dinner and disappeared after getting into a taxi (or walking down the street - his friends' testimony later changed). His disappearance was reported to the police on September 3rd - almost a month later. His wife didn't know what happened, his fellow Justices had no idea, and his mistresses (he had several) said that they didn't know. While his disappearance was front page news, his fate was never discovered and after 40 years the case was closed, still without knowing if Crater was dead or alive.

In 1948, when she was 38 years old, on January 30th, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by a member of a Hindu nationalist party who thought that Gandhi was too accommodating to Muslims. The man, Nathuram Godse, shot Gandhi 3 times. He died immediately. The shooter was tried, convicted, and hung in November 1949.

In 1961, by the time she was 51 years old, on April 17th, about 1,000 CIA trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba with the intention of igniting a rebellion and overthrowing Castro. They were defeated within three days. Although the operation began under Eisenhower, Kennedy approved it and the operation, named the Bay of Pigs for the beach where they landed, was a humiliation for the United States.

In 1979, in the year of Joyce Grenfell's passing, on March 28th, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred at the power plant at Three Mile Island Pennsylvania. Radiation leaked into the environment, resulting in a rating of 5 on a scale of 7 ("Accident With Wider Consequences") . It ended up costing $1 billion to clean up the site.

Other Joyce Grenfells

Bio
Unknown - 1923

Other Grenfells

Bio
Aug 19, 1905 - Unknown
Bio
Dec 25, 1909 - Nov 16, 1995
Bio
May 29, 1912 - Unknown
Bio
Apr 14, 1920 - Unknown
Bio
Jan 5, 1826 - Feb 2, 1911
Bio
Mar 17, 1823 - May 4, 1861
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
1818 - Unknown
Bio
Nov 1, 1903 - Mar 31, 1993
Bio
Bio
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown

Other Phipps

Bio
1736 - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
c. 1718 - c. Feb 9, 1748
Bio
Mar 26, 1757 - Sep 1, 1782
Bio
November 1869 - 1895
Bio
1808 - 1896
Bio
Bio
Mar 8, 1814 - Nov 24, 1889
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Dec 11, 1757 - Aug 3, 1825
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
c. Jan 12, 1729 - Oct 18, 1792
Bio
c. Feb 18, 1735 - Dec 8, 1780
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
1673 - 1754
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio
Unknown - Unknown
Bio

Other Bios

Bio
Dec 25, 1909 - Nov 16, 1995
Bio
Jun 11, 1911 - Jun 15, 1935
Bio
Jan 21, 1773 - 1875
Bio
Jul 1, 1772 - 1862
Bio
Feb 9, 1746 - Oct 23, 1816
Bio
May 26, 1754 - Jan 25, 1811
Bio
Jul 1, 1764 - Aug 3, 1849
Bio
Sep 9, 1756 - Jul 24, 1850
Bio
Oct 22, 1731 - Unknown
Bio
Jun 1, 1766 - Jun 13, 1837
Bio
1770 - Apr 10, 1846
Bio
1786 - Unknown
Bio
1762 - Unknown
Bio
1784 - Unknown
Bio
Mar 12, 1872 - Aug 20, 1920
Bio
Aug 18, 1874 - Jun 2, 1948
Bio
1717 - Apr 25, 1766
Bio
1760 - 1761
Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
Highlights of just a few of the many successes of sharing memories about the people important to us on AncientFaces. From reuniting lost or 'orphan' photos with their families, seeing the faces of relatives for the first time, to connecting unknown and lost family.

These stories will warm your heart and inspire you to share your memories of the people important to you.
Back to Top