Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kathleen Byron, star of Black Narcissus, dies at 88

Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus. Photo: Ronald Grant Archive

Kathleen Byron, the intense, flame-haired star of Michael Powell's Black Narcissus, died yesterday at the age of 88. She is believed to have been in poor health for a number of years.
Born in London in January 1921 (some sources say 1923), Byron made her film debut playing a maid in Carol Reed's 1942 drama The Young Mr Pitt. But it was with the film-making team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger that she was to make a lasting impression. Byron played an angel in 1946's A Matter of Life and Death, and starred opposite David Farrar in 1949's The Small Back Room.
She is best remembered for her performance as the unstable Sister Ruth in 1947's Black Narcissus.