"Who has never heard of Coral Browne?"

I asked this question of my audience at a Sydney seminar during late 2005 and three-quarters of it put its hand up. I was encouraged. I had expected the ignorant to be present in greater numbers, but I under-estimated my audience, my luck was in and a quarter of my captives did know Coral Browne. One or two had even seen her performing.
BARBARA ANGELL - author of the upcoming biography
"Another Coral Browne Story"


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CoralVickie
Coral Browne in Out Of The Sea for the Playhouse Theatre, April 1934
Aged 20. Her mother, Vickie in background.
© The Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection, Melbourne

Coral Browne was Australian and incredibly mega-famous, though few Australians have heard of her. Australia had a habit of writing-off anyone with the cheek to leave Australia and actually make good abroad - especially if they remained abroad. Coral was one of those and the media here stopped reporting anything about her from around 1940 - which happened to coincide with some of her greatest triumphs at the Savoy Theatre including My Sister Eileen. Travel was not as easy then as now, so she couldn’t do a Cate Blanchett or a Kylie Minogue and commute between jobs. Nor could she do a Russell Crowe or a Judy Davis and get herself hired while still living in Australia. It simply didn’t happen then.


So Coral Browne left Australia in 1934 at age 20, having already made a big name here with Gregan McMahon's Playhouse and with JC Williamson, and went to London with a return boat ticket, to try her luck. She re-visited Oz only twice: in 1948 to attend her grandmother’s wedding - yes, wedding - and in 1980 as the wife of Vincent Price - yes, that Vincent Price.


She had a string of lovers, occasionally dabbling in her own sex, and was simply outrageous. For nearly 50 years smart London dinner parties were not complete without repeating the latest hilarious “Coral Browne story”. She was ultra-glamorous, had a razor wit and was the friend and confidant of, and sometimes slept with, the most important people in theatre. She died in 1991 a multi-millionairess, much to the amazement of Vincent Price who had no idea that his wife was loaded.
Mature Coral
A more mature Coral Browne
In her London Dressing room circa 1980
© The Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection, Melbourne

It’s all in the book. There is her wit - much of it well known and often repeated but some of it never reported before and re-discovered in letters to her from friends such as Julie Harris, Alan Bennett, Alan Bates, Joan Rivers (the list is endless). There are her lovers, Maurice Chevalier, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jack Buchanan and many others. There is her sparkling career - she wowed Broadway with her Lady Macbeth and Moscow with her Gertrude. She had hit plays written for her, notably Simon and Laura by her good mate Alan Melville which she would have repeated in Australia if JC Williamson hadn’t jumped the gun by mounting an Aussie production without approaching her. She caused a stir by performing the very first lesbian movie love scene (outside of the porn market) with Susannah York in the The Killing of Sister George and she knocked ‘em sideways with Rosalind Russell in the movie Aunty Mame, in which she damn near stole the show as Vera Charles.


And you haven’t heard of Coral Browne? Shame!


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I started researching Coral’s papers in 1997 and would have released this book much sooner except that I got commissioned to write another biography and someone was kind enough to pay me to do that research. Payment in advance tends to get my attention, so Coral was put on hold. Anyway I went back to her after my first biography A Woman’s War went into its second edition (plug, plug) and resumed our loving relationship in 2003. The child of our union is my superb book "Another Coral Browne Story" and you now know where the title comes from.

"Another Coral Browne Story" will be published by New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Limited in June 2006, so pester your local bookshops like mad.
OR - If you live outside or inside Australia:

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