WhatsOnStage Logo
Theatre News

Doris Barry Dies, Aged 96

WhatsOnStage logo
The death of Doris Barry, the Windmill dancer and sister of ballerina Alicia Markova, has just been announced. She was 96. In a career than spanned much of the twentieth century, she moved between the seemingly separate worlds of ballet, theatre and television, as well as coaching a younger generation of performers in her maturity.

Born in 1913, Doris was one of four daughters of north London Jewish parents. Like her more famous older sister Alicia (who died in 2004), Barry took dance lessons, but instead of ballet worked at Soho's famous Windmill Club for eight years in the 1930s. She later advised Stephen Frears on his 2005 film about the club, Mrs Henderson Presents, which starred Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins.

During publicity for the film, Doris recalled life in 1930s Soho, describing how she was one of the dancers who went on strike when the Windmill first introduced its naked tableaux. Windmill owner Mrs Henderson asked the producer Vivian Van Damm (played by Hoskins in the film) to create nude scenes, and he talked the young dancers around by comparing them to paintings in the National Gallery.

After the Windmill, Doris went into artist management, running companies for the Hungarian-born impresario Sandor Gorlinksy, who was also Nureyev's agent. She later managed her sister's company London Festival Ballet as well as overseeing Markova's busy career as Britain's first world-class ballerina (she preceded Fonteyn by a decade).

After leaving Festival Ballet, now known as English National Ballet, Doris worked on Opportunity Knocks with Hughie Green for 13 years. She was also a director of London Studio Centre, the north London vocational dance school.

Doris is survived by Vivienne, the last of the four sisters.


Tagged in this Story