Phyllis Calvert

Last updated on the 25 June 2024 by Maeve

Phyllis Calvert headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 18 February 1915, Chelsea, London, England.

Phyllis Hannah Bickle, known professionally as Phyllis Calvert, artistic journey began on the stage. From a young age, she trained at the Margaret Morris School of Dancing, aiming for a career as a dancer. However, an injury forced her to pivot towards acting, a shift that would shape British cinema for decades to come.

Fanny by Gaslight - Stewart Granger and Phyllis Calvert
Fanny by Gaslight – Stewart Granger and Phyllis Calvert

Despite the setback, Calvert began performing professionally at the age of ten. She even shared the stage with the legendary Ellen Terry in the 1925 production of “Crossings.” This early exposure to the world of theatre instilled in her a deep love for the craft. Her film debut followed soon after, with a small role in “The Arcadians” (1927) at the age of twelve.

Phyllis Calvert developed her skills further by performing in repertory theatre companies in Malvern and Coventry. These experiences allowed her to develop a strong foundation in acting techniques and stage presence. Her big break came in 1939 with her London stage debut in “A Woman’s Privilege.” This success paved the way for a flourishing film career.

The Man in Grey - Rohan (James Mason) and Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert)
The Man in Grey – Rohan (James Mason) and Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert)

The 1940s marked Calvert’s rise to stardom. She became a leading lady in the Gainsborough melodramas, entrancing audiences with her elegance and emotional range. Films like “The Man in Grey” (1943) and “Fanny by Gaslight” (1944) established her as a major box office draw.

In “Mandy” (1952), she gave a poignant portrayal of a mother struggling with her deaf daughter’s communication challenges. This film earned her a BAFTA nomination, solidifying her critical acclaim.

Hollywood beckoned in the late 1940s, but Calvert ultimately chose to return to England. Family life became a priority after she married actor and bookseller Peter Murray-Hill in 1941. The couple had two children, and Calvert balanced motherhood with a thriving stage career throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Phyllis Calvert and Mandy Miller in Mandy
Phyllis Calvert and Mandy Miller in Mandy

Television also became a platform for Calvert’s talent. She entertained audiences in series like “Little Women” (1958) and “Kate” (1970). Her career continued well into her later years, with appearances in shows like “Midsomer Murders” (2000) demonstrating her enduring presence on screen.

Phyllis Calvert remained married to Peter Murray-Hill until his passing in 1957. She continued to act for another 45 years, leaving behind a legacy of over 40 films and countless stage performances. When she passed away peacefully in 2002 at the age of 87, she was remembered as an actress who graced both the silver screen and the stage, captivating audiences for over seven decades.


Suggested viewing


Fanny by Gaslight (1944)

Fanny by Gaslight poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.5

In Victorian London, a young woman’s world crumbles when she discovers a shocking family secret. Thrust into a life she never imagined, she tackles betrayal, loss and a fight for survival, all while finding an unexpected love that offers a chance for redemption.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, James Mason, Wilfrid Lawson, Stewart Granger, Jean Kent, Margaretta Scott, Nora Swinburne, Cathleen Nesbitt.


Mandy (1952)

Mandy (1952) poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.4

A young deaf girl struggles to connect with a world that doesn’t understand her silence. Her parents clash over the best way to help her, with her mother fighting for specialised education and her father clinging to traditional methods. Ultimately, the family sacrifices everything for Mandy’s chance to speak and find her place in the world.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Jack Hawkins, Terence Morgan, Godfrey Tearle, Mandy Miller, Marjorie Fielding, Nancy Price, Edward Chapman, Patricia Plunkett, Eleanor Summerfield.


They Were Sisters (1945)

They Were Sisters poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.8

Three sisters, bound by love but shaped by different choices, embark on vastly different marital journeys. One finds happiness, another seeks solace in infidelity, while the third endures the emotional torment of an abusive husband, highlighting the complexities of love and the enduring bond of sisterhood.

Top cast: James Mason, Phyllis Calvert, Hugh Sinclair, Anne Crawford, Peter Murray-Hill, Dulcie Gray, Barry Livesey, Pamela Mason, Ann Stephens.


Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)

Madonna of the Seven Moons poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.2

Haunted by a past trauma, a seemingly respectable wife grapples with a hidden dual identity. Torn between her loving family life and a passionate affair fueled by her repressed desires, her secret threatens to unravel as her past collides with the present.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger, Patricia Roc, Peter Glenville, John Stuart, Reginald Tate, Peter Murray-Hill, Dulcie Gray, Alan Haines.


Two Thousand Women (1944)

Two Thousand Women poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.5

During WWII, a French internment camp for British women becomes a hive of subterfuge. The resourceful inmates band together, hiding downed Allied airmen and devising a daring escape plan, defying their Nazi captors with courage and unwavering resilience.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Flora Robson, Patricia Roc, Renee Houston, Reginald Purdell, Anne Crawford, Jean Kent, James McKechnie, Robert Arden, Carl Jaffe, Muriel Aked.


The Root of All Evil (1947)

The Root of All Evil poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.7

A scorned woman fueled by revenge uses her cunning to build a rival business, aiming to destroy the wealthy family who wronged her. But love and unexpected consequences threaten to complicate her ruthless pursuit of vengeance.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Michael Rennie, John McCallum, Brefni O’Rorke, Moore Marriott, Hazel Court, Arthur Young, Reginald Purdell, Hubert Gregg, Stewart Rome, George Carney, Diana Decker.


The Golden Madonna (1949)

The Golden Madonna poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.5

An oblivious British heiress accidentally throws away a painting revered by a local Italian village. Facing their wrath, she embarks on a whirlwind adventure to retrieve the “lucky” Madonna, encountering a charming American and confronting the power of superstition and cultural beliefs.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Michael Rennie, Tullio Carminati, Aldo Silvani, Pippo Bonucci, Francesca Biondi, Franco Coop, Claudio Ermelli.


Mr. Denning Drives North (1951)

Mr. Denning Drives North poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.7

A successful aircraft manufacturer’s world spirals out of control after a deadly confrontation with his daughter’s boyfriend. To cover his tracks, he embarks on a desperate northwards journey, haunted by guilt and the ever-present fear of his crime being exposed.

Top cast: John Mills, Phyllis Calvert, Eileen Moore, Sam Wanamaker, Herbert Lom, Raymond Huntley, Russell Waters, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Bernard Lee.


The Woman with No Name (1950)

The Woman with No Name poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.8

Suffering from amnesia after a wartime bombing, a young woman grapples to piece together her past. With the help of a kind doctor and a blossoming romance, she rebuilds her life, but the secrets she left behind threaten to shatter the happiness she’s found.

Top cast: Phyllis Calvert, Edward Underdown, Helen Cherry, Richard Burton, Anthony Nicholls, James Hayter, Betty Ann Davies, Amy Veness, Patrick Troughton.


The Man in Grey (1943)

The Man in Grey poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.5

In a loveless marriage, a young wife finds herself entangled in a web of deceit when her husband falls for her friend. As their desires clash and hidden pasts rise to the surface, a passionate love triangle unfolds, threatening to shatter their carefully constructed lives.

Top cast: Margaret Lockwood, Phyllis Calvert, James Mason, Stewart Granger, Harry Scott, Beatrice Varley, Martita Hunt, Helen Hayes, Raymond Lovell.


Phyllis Calvert partial filmography @ Wikipedia
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