About Ambrosine Phillpotts
<The Times, October 14, 1980>
<MISS AMBROSINE PHILLPOTTS>
<Comedienne of stage and screen>
Miss Ambrosine Phillpotts, the actress, died at her home in Ascot on October 12 at the age of 68 after a long and painful illness borne with her customary attitude of courage, good humour and occasional real indignation.
She was one of the last great stage aristocrats, a stylish comedienne best known for playing on stage and screen a succession of increasingly 'grandes dames' with an endearing mixture of Edwardian snobbery and eccentric absent-mindedness.
The daughter of Admiral Phillpotts and niece of the playwright Eden Phillpotts, she first studied music in Paris and then for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She made her stage debut in 1930 in "The Ringer" at the Q Theatre, toured for two years with Ben Greet (playing Portia and Lady Macbeth) and then spent three years as a leading player at the Hull repertory theatre.
In 1939 she toured in Robert Morley's "Goodness How Sad", starting a stage partnership with him which was to continue across more than 30 years - at the Savoy in 1974 she was his wife in his play "A Ghost on Tiptoe", and before that they had been together in Kaufman and Hart's "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1943) and Ustinov's "Halfway Up the Tree" (1967).
During the war she played with Emlyn Williams in his "The Morning Star" and then toured troop theatres in western Europe with him in "Blithe Spirit". After the war she made considerable success in such West End comedies as "Lucky Strike" and "The Reluctant Debutante", and frequently returned to her own local Theatre Royal, Windsor, guest starring there in a vast range of roles over more than 25 years.
But increasingly towards the end of her life she worked in television, most notably as the aristocratic if eccentric dowager aunt in the "Hadleigh" series for Yorkshire Television.
Her last stage appearances were in the 1976 West End revival of "Separate Tables" and at Chichester, dominating from a wheelchair the 1978 production there of Wilde's "A Woman of No Importance"; but suitably enough, her farewell appearance, again in a wheelchair, was at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, last November in a revival of "Ring Round the Moon".
Her many films included "The Captain's Paradise", "Room at the Top" and "Expresso Bongo".
Her 1938 marriage to the industrialist, Sir John Reiss, ended in divorce; she leaves a son, Jeremy, and a daughter, the actress Amanda Reiss.