Bannerman, Margaret

Margaret Bannerman, actress (b Marguerite Grande at Toronto 15 Dec 1896; d at Englewood, New Jersey 25 Apr 1976). Bannerman attended Bishop Strachan School, Toronto, and Mount Saint Vincent Academy, Halifax. She and her family moved to England at the outbreak of World War I, where her professional stage apprenticeship began with Gertrude Lawrence in Charlot's Revue of 1915. Playing primarily in light comedy and revues, she became a great favourite of servicemen during the war; her photograph regularly illuminated the pages of the Canadian Daily Record, the special newspaper distributed to Canadian troops serving in Europe.

She is best remembered as Lady George Graystone in Somerset Maugham's Our Betters, which ran for 548 performances at the Globe Theatre, London. In the 1920s, her fame rivalled that of Edith Evans and Sybil Thorndyke. A nervous breakdown in 1925, four days before the opening of Fallen Angels by Noel Coward, interrupted her career. After a year-long tour of Australia in 1928, she resumed her London stage career before moving to America in the mid-1930s.

Bannerman's movie credits in the 1930s included Lily Christine, Two White Arms, Over the Garden Wall, The Great Defender, I Give My Heart and the operetta The Loves of Madame Dubarry. After World War II, she made Cluny Brown with Charles Boyer and Peter Lawford and The Homestretch with Cornel Wilde and Maureen O'Hara.

Her first professional engagement in Canada was as Lady George in Our Betters at the ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE in 1940. Playing Mrs Higgins in the North American touring production of My Fair Lady brought her to Toronto a second time in November 1963. She then retired to an actor's home in Englewood, New Jersey, where she continued her life-long interests in furniture and antiques until her death in 1976.

Margaret Bannerman's talents were perfectly suited to light entertainment. Having recognized her own strengths and weaknesses, she carefully crafted a career on stage and film in the genre in which she excelled.