Beryl Elizabeth Reid was a British actress of stage and screen. She won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for "The Killing of Sister George," the 1980 Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance for "Born in the Gardens" and the 1982 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for "Smiley's People." Her film appearances included "The Belles of St. Trinian's," "The Killing of Sister George," "The Assassination Bureau" and "No Sex Please, We're British."
Born in Hereford, Herefordshire on June 17, 1919, she was the daughter of Scottish parents, and raised in Manchester, where she attended Withington and Levenshulme High Schools. She left school at 16 to work in a shop and later perform at Floral Hall in Bridlington, later performing in variety shows and pantomimes during World War Two. Despite any formal training, she later started doing comedy at the Royal National Theater with her first big success playing a schoolgirl named Monica in the BBC radio show, "Educating Archie."
Well-received in film and TV, she reprised her Tony Award-winning performance of a lesbian soap opera star in the screen version of "The Killing of Sister George" for which she was nominated the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Drama. She starred in several British TV shows including the first three episodes of "The Benny Hill Show" on the BBC, "Bold as Brass," "The World of Wooster," "The Very Merry Widow" and her own variety series in 1968. She also made appearances on "The Goodies," "This is Your Life," "Doctor Who" and "Two's Company" among several other TV shows. She also starred in the British mini-series "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Smiley's People," which won her a BAFTA for Best Actress on Television. She also wrote an autobiography, So Much Love, which was well received. She played the part of an elderly feminist and political subversive in the 1987 television drama, "The Beiderbecke Tapes."
Considered a talented comedic character actress, Reid appeared in many situation comedy and variety programs on British TV including "The Good Old Days," going on to star on the children's TV program "Mooncat" from 1981 to 1983 for Yorkshire Television. Despite being married twice, she never had any children.
Reid was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1986 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to drama and a Lifetime British Comedy award in 1991. In her later years, she lived in the eccentric Honeypot Cottage on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire with her collection of stray cats. She passed away on October 13, 1996 from pneumonia and osteoporosis at a South Buckinghamshire hospital following knee surgery. She was 77 years old. Her authorised biography, Roll Out the Beryl was published in August 2016.