Bernadette O’Farrell

Bernadette O’Farrell

Bernadette O'Farrell
Bernadette O’Farrell

Bernadette O’Farrell.

IMDB entry{

Bernadette O’Farrell was born in Birr, Co Offaly in Ireland in 1924.   She auditioned for and won a small part in the Frank Lauder film “Captain Boycott” in 1947.   She later married Frank Lauder.   She gained international recognition in the 1950’s for her role as Maid Marian to Richard Greene’s Robin Hood on television’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood”.   The series was a huge success in Britain and the U.S.   She acted occasionally on film and her last movie was “The Bridal Path” in 1959.   She retired to Monaco with her husband and she died there in 1999.   Her obituary in “Variety” can be accessed here.

Although often seen in the St. Trinian’s movies, written by Sidney Gilliat and her husband, Frank Launder, it was her role as Maid Marian in the long-running Robin Hood series that catapulted her to stardom. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955) became one of the first British Television programs to succeed in the United States, having over 30 million viewers. O’Farrell left the series in 1957 despite receiving thousands of letters asking her to stay. She was born in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland, in 1926. Her father was a bank teller, and her mother was an amateur actress. After being educated at a local convent, she was working as a secretary when she was invited to an audition by Sir Carol Reed.

Through Reed, she met Frank Launder, who gave her a small part inCaptain Boycott (1947) opposite Stewart Granger. After several movies, including Launder’s St. Trinian’s series, some stage work and Robin Hood, she starred in her last movie, The Bridal Path (1959) in 1959. She retired from acting to spend time with her family on their farm in Buckinghamshire, England, UK. She and Launder were married in 1950 and had two daughters. They would later move to Monaco and become active in local charities and stage productions. While living in Monaco, Frank suffered a serious stroke in 1989 and, finally, a fatal heart attack in 1997. Bernadette O’Farrell died on September 29, 1999, after battling with cancer.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Mick Williams <host@cyber-line.com>

“Irish Times” obituary:

In the mid-1950s, Bernadette O’Farrell was one of the best-known Irish actresses in the world. As Maid Marion in the television series The Adventures of Robin Hood, she was watched by an estimated 30 million people each week. She gave up the role after two years when shopkeepers started addressing her as Maid Marion.

The daughter of a bank manager, she was born in Birr, Co Offaly, on January 30th, 1924, and educated at a local convent.

She was working as a solicitor’s clerk when the film director Carol Reed, a friend of the family, suggested she audition for producers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. They had set up a film unit in Ireland to make Captain Boycott, a film based on the tenant farmers’ revolt of 1880.

The result was the part of the wife of a farmer (Liam Gaffney), who joins others to ostracise the ruthless landlord, Boycott. When the landlord, defeated, leaves Ireland, the local priest advises the community to “boycott” anyone else who tries to do them harm, thus bringing the word into the English language.

Launder later commented, “It was a fascinating and memorable film to make, and I met a lot of marvellous people on it, including my wife”.

He married Bernadette O’Farrell in 1950, and in the same year cast her in The Happiest Days Of Your Life, which told of the hilarious results of a group of girls being mistakenly billeted at a boys’ school.

Among other films were Lady in the Fog (1952) in which she co-starred, helping a reporter (Hollywood actor, Cesar Romero) track the killer of her brother; The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953), as a member of the D’Oyly Carte company; and The Square Ring (1953), as the wife of an ageing boxer attempting a comeback.

But it was her casting in the Robin Hood series in 1955 which made her a household name, as she pluckily helped her sweetheart thwart the plans of his arch enemy the Sheriff of Nottingham. The high-quality scripts, many written under pseudonyms by blacklisted American writers, and the show’s theme tune (“Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen . . .”) were other elements in the show’s success. Its popularity in America led to a tour of the country by Bernadette O’Farrell and her co-star Richard Greene in 1956.   Three years later she retired to raise her two daughters on the family farm in Buckinghamshire, and on her husband’s retirement, the couple moved to Monaco. Frank Launder died in 1997.

Bernadette O’Farrell is survived by her two daughters.

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