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  1. #1
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    Barbara Kelly

    Telegraph Obituary

    Barbara Kelly, who has died aged 82, was one of showbusiness's brightest personalities in the 1950s, often appearing with her husband, Bernard Braden; she was probably best known for her appearances on the panel show What's My Line?

    She and Braden arrived from Canada in 1949 and quickly established themselves as – by the standards of British broadcasters at the time – brash and breezy performers on stage as well as radio and television. Barbara Kelly was in regular demand in radio dramas and scored a hit in Male Animal in the West End, but soon joined her husband on the radio variety show Breakfast with Braden, which was so popular that in 1950 it was moved to a later slot and renamed Bedtime with Braden.

    They made their television debut on An Evening at Home With Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly in 1951 but, though popular, it ran for only one series.


    In 1953 she joined What's My Line?, which featured Eamonn Andrews as the chairman, and David Nixon, Gilbert Harding and Isobel Barnett as the other contestants attempting to guess the occupations of members of the public. This simple format proved immensely popular, and the programme ran until 1963. When it was briefly revived in 1984, Andrews and Barbara Kelly were the only original members of the team to appear.

    Barbara Kelly was born on October 5 1924 at Vancouver, British Colombia, and was given elocution lessons as a young girl. Barbara hated the stage, but her mother was a frustrated actress. Her first professional engagement was with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, when she played the Virgin Mary in a Nativity Play.

    She married Braden in 1942 – "to escape from my mother" and having been warned by her father: "Never do anything to besmirch the name of Kelly or I will kill you." Two years and two children later, she said, it occurred to her to ask: "How can you besmirch a name like Kelly?"

    She was soon in demand for radio work and also toured a series of small theatres across Canada before making her first television appearances in The Stage Series.

    By the end of the 1950s, Barbara Kelly was a well-established figure on television and radio in Britain, but for the next decade her husband's career moved to the fore, with the success of his On the Braden Beat, one of the earliest consumer guidance programmes, which won a Bafta award in 1964 and ran on ATV for six years. The programme was followed by Braden's Week on the BBC, which lasted four years.

    Her other television work included Kelly's Eye, Criss Cross Quiz and Leave Your Name and Number as well as the sitcom B and B in 1968, where she again teamed up with her husband, and in which their younger daughter Kim also appeared.

    During the 1970s Barbara Kelly and her husband ran Adanac Productions, which they had set up 20 years earlier, and which by then was specialising in presentations at business conferences. Barbara Kelly then began an agency offering advice to celebrities on managing their image and career direction. Through her company Prime Performers she also offered the services of a number of figures – including Barbara Windsor, Joan Collins, Raymond Baxter, Norman Tebbit and John Harvey-Jones – for the after-dinner-speaking circuit.

    She also ran Speakerpower, which provides actors to train people in public speaking and presentations.

    Barbara Kelly took a no-nonsense approach to most things; even during an armed raid in 1978, she asked the robbers – who had knocked her husband out – to "take off the Noddy hats and have a drink". Despite having suffered from cancer during the 1980s, she nursed her husband during his own final illness. Bernard Braden died in 1993 and her son also predeceased her. Barbara Kelly died on Sunday; she is survived by her two daughters.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: Scotland
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    She co-starred with her husband in Love in Pawn (1953) as well as them bot h appearing in Cy Endfield's Jet Storm (1959). She appeared in one of the segments of A Tale of Five Cities (1951) and the David Tomlinson / Margaret Rutherford comedy about a haunted castle Castle In the Air (1952) playing the American guest who hopes to purchase it. She laso plyed Raymond Huntley's wife in Glad Tidings (1953).

  3. #3
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    A shame.

    She and her husband always seemed so likeable.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    name='JamesM']She co-starred with her husband in Love in Pawn (1953) as well as them bot h appearing in Cy Endfield's Jet Storm (1959). She appeared in one of the segments of A Tale of Five Cities (1951) and the David Tomlinson / Margaret Rutherford comedy about a haunted castle Castle In the Air (1952) playing the American guest who hopes to purchase it. She laso plyed Raymond Huntley's wife in Glad Tidings (1953).

    The Braden's toured with the stage play The Man in the early 50's. This was filmed in 1952 as Beware My Lovely with Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan.


  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Barbara Kelly

    Actress star of 'What's My Line?'

    The Independent

    Published: 16 January 2007

    Barbara Kelly, actress and broadcaster: born Vancouver, British Columbia 5 October 1924; married 1942 Bernard Braden (died 1993; two daughters, and one son deceased); died London 15 January 2007.

    It was almost a national obligation in the 1950s to switch on your television set at eight o'clock on a Sunday night and tune in to What's My Line? Television - in those days there was only one channel - was still trying to prove itself against the radio and the cinema, and it needed a shot in the arm.

    This it received far beyond its expectations with the appearance of one of the panellists, a vivacious and witty Canadian, born in Vancouver in 1924, named Barbara Kelly, who in 1949 had come to England with her husband, Bernard Braden, to try to achieve success on stage, whether live or behind a microphone.

    For Braden the breakthrough for him came that year when he appeared as "Mitch" in the London version of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Vivien Leigh. For Kelly it was in 1950 when she brightened up the nation's television screens sitting alongside Eamonn Andrews, as panellist chairman, and her fellow panellists Jerry Desmonde, Marghanita Laski and Ted Kavanagh on What's My Line?

    Within weeks, the impressive, if difficult, form of Gilbert Harding was on the team, and it was the curmudgeonly stubbornness of Harding and the irreverent humour of Kelly that made the programme click as it was to do for decades.

    Kelly was from West Vancouver, the Pacific Coast city's snooty suburb, and Braden, born in 1916, recalled in his memoir The Kindness of Strangers (1990) that he had first met her before Christmas 1940 as part of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation drive to recruit someone suitable to play the Virgin Mary in the first production of the York and Chester mysteries.

    With long curly locks of blonde hair, a precocious nature and a remarkable ability to read before a microphone, she was an instant hit and soon joined the CBC's radio rep company while working as a fashion model. Braden and Kelly were married on 13 April 1942, and thus, in theatrical terms, were to begin a joint apprenticeship that was to take them to Toronto, where a lot of work was done for little money, then to London, where a much wider range of opportunities opened.

    Braden and Kelly both later recalled that their apprenticeship in Toronto, working on stage and on the CBC, gave them a head start because television and radio were more technically advanced there than in the UK, given the powerful influence on the Canadian media emanating from New York City just 450 miles away. "We were getting the training, just not getting paid for it," said Braden in an interview years later: "We set out in 1949, originally for a year, to London. New York was a rat race and we were expecting a baby at the time."

    So, to England, where the Bradens had many radio connections to smooth their arrival. Kelly soon landed a role in The Male Animal and burst through to public attention in other ways. In those days, Braden recalled, it was forbidden to mention commercial products while appearing in any capacity on the BBC. Kelly, not one to be held back when in the grip of loquacity, got propelled in a big way into the public eye on a programme called Picture Page. Asked the difference between broadcasting in the UK as opposed to Canada, she immediately snapped back that in Canada this type of programme would be sponsored by about 10 companies, examples of which she proceeded to rattle off - to the dismay of the producer but the delight of the listeners. The popular press had fun with the story and made wide use of Kelly's good looks.

    What's My Line? gave Kelly national exposure and this was reinforced further when Braden managed to convince the BBC to run a domestic situation comedy - given that they both had Canadian accents, he hoped it would safely cross class and regional boundaries and have a national appeal. Thus began a series of programmes, first on radio then on television, initially titled An Evening with the Bradens, followed by Breakfast with the Bradens, Bedtime with the Bradens and Between Times with the Bradens, among many others.

    The various series were to run throughout the 1950s. Braden dabbled in films and also branched out into investigative consumer journalism with The Braden Beat, which ran from 1962 to 1968, while Barbara took roles in a series of largely forgotten "B" pictures, such as The Desert Hawk (1950), A Tale of Five Cities (1951), Glad Tidings (1952), Love in Pawn (1953) and The Flying Fontaines (1959).

    By the 1970s and with Braden having got sacked by the BBC for daring to advertise a popular margarine on commercial television while still in the BBC's employ, Kelly began to wind down the popular TV work in favour of a commercial enterprise called Prime Performers, supplying speakers to such clients as Cunard Lines. Braden himself set up a conference organisation that would book conferences, not only the venues but with all the latest presentational gadgetry, including the latest in slide, film and audiovisual techniques.

    After Braden's death in 1993, and 25 years of Prime Performers, Kelly in 2000 set up a new company, Speakerpower, "specialising in personal training for everyone who has to speak in public", and using as trainers such broadcasting stalwarts as Margaret Howard, Jan Leeming and David Jacobs. The journalist Simon Hoggart attended one session with Speakerpower and described it as "terrifying".

    Kelly, by her own admission, did not actually like the stage, and the stress of appearing before audiences always made her want to throw up. Braden even went so far as to say she never enjoyed acting, despite her ability to light up a room or a studio with her bright personality: "At home, I never saw the lady I saw on TV. She would come home and relax and be herself, no longer the public person I had only seen hours before."

    In 1988, Braden recounted having appeared at a wedding where there were a lot of VIPs and press photographers, none of whom seemed to recognise them. His wife said: "You know, I think we've entered a new phase in our lives. We've moved into another category; we now belong to the EFVIPs - the Elderly Former Very Important Persons."

    Frank Gray

  6. #6
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    One of the late Miss Kelly's more unusual jobs in the 1970s was providing the voice of the Moonbase Alpha computer in Space:1999.

  7. #7
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    Shame I remember her asking the questions on "CRISS CROSS QUIZ" or "JUNIOR CRISS CROSS QUIZ". Ahh! happy days.

  8. #8
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    I remember her and also her husband when he presented 'Braden's Beat' when I was a kid.

    But I mainly remember their daughter Kim, who starred in the popular BBC TV series 'Anne of Green Gables' and also 'Anne of Avonlea', both from the 1970s. I seem to recall having a bit of a schoolboy crush on her at the time.

    Both series also featured Jan Francis, who went on to play Paul Nicholas' posh 'totty' in the TV comedy 'Just Good Friends in the 1980s.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Kim Braden (Barbara's daughter) was also in the David Essex movie

    THAT'LL BE THE DAY......

    Obituary : Barbara Kelly

    Versatile TV presenter who made What's My Line a popular success

    by Dennis Barker

    Wednesday January 17, 2007

    The Guardian

    The actor and broadcaster Barbara Kelly, who has died of cancer aged 82, was one of the few people never to have had a row, on screen or off, with British television's grouchiest 1950s personality, Gilbert Harding. Both were regular panellists on What's My Line, the BBC programme where they had to guess the occupations of guests from their - usually - esoteric miming; Harding's ability to be rude made it the most newsworthy programme of the day. Kelly, however, was well able to stand up for herself.

    Tall, blonde and with striking blue eyes, she appeared on screen in low-cut dresses and huge dangling earrings. Despite her charm, she had a brash toughness and a no-nonsense approach to television.

    First joining the panel in 1952, replacing the actor Joan Greenwood, she became noted for her ability to come up with an intuitive guess when all the other panel members were floundering. For a time she alternated with another actor, Elizabeth Allan, but in 1953 she walked out of the programme because the producer would not give her a permanent place. A national newspaper conducted a viewers' poll on Kelly versus Allan. Out of 4,124 votes cast, Kelly got 4,031. She rejoined the programme. In 1984, when What's My Line was revived, she was the only original panel member to appear, along with the chairman, Eamonn Andrews.

    Kelly and her husband Bernard Braden, whom she had married at 17, were both born in Canada. She joined Braden in Britain after the second world war, and the pair became, in their time, a kind of royal couple of television. But first they had to struggle. Kelly was born in Vancouver, studied elocution as a girl and had her first professional engagement with CBC when she played - as she was later to recall with a scream of laughter - the Virgin Mary in a Christmas nativity play. Her work in Canada was confined to radio and theatre.

    When she moved to Britain in 1949, and before What's My Line, her reputation was made in radio programmes dominated by her husband: she made, for example, appearances on Breakfast With Braden, Bedtime With Braden and in 1951 gained equal billing with him in An Evening at Home with Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly. Later, she appeared in the short-lived sitcom, B and B, in 1968, also with Braden, and their daughter. She acted in Hawaii Five-O (1978) and Magnum, PI (1981).

    She had a minor but congenial film career in which her accent, often mistaken for American, was useful: A Tale of Five Cities (1951), Glad Tidings (1953) and Love In Pawn (1953). Her last film was Lust of a Eunuch (1977). None were memorable, but they subsidised her handsome way of life, which at various times included a large flat in Knightsbridge, a Hampstead house, flash cars and a motorboat with a built-in cocktail cabinet. She was once robbed at gun-point of her small fortune of jewellery.

    Though in later life she admitted she was driven and ambitious in her youth and had not seen as much of her children as she might have done, she was capable of poise and grace in difficult circumstances. When, at a party, Gilbert Harding was called a "square" by one of the jazz musicians, she took him aside and explained the musician must have meant that Harding was a square peg in a round hole - something which the serious-minded Harding often said about himself.

    When her fame began to wane, she adroitly set up, with her husband, an agency for supplying speakers for public occasions; Norman Tebbit and Derek Jameson were among her many clients. She also provided advice to celebrities on how to promote their careers. Later, she had cancer of the jaw and became reclusive, but could still be spirited in private. Braden died in 1993. She is survived by her two daughters. A son, Christopher, predeceased her.

    Barbara Kelly, actor and broadcaster, born October 5 1924; died January 14 2007



    The Times January 17, 2007

    Barbara Kelly

    October 5, 1924 - January 15, 2007

    Gregarious stalwart of What's My Line? and Criss Cross Quiz

    Barbara Kelly came to Britain from Canada with her husband, Bernard Braden, in 1949, and after appearing with him on the radio comedy Bedtime with Braden, became a national celebrity through the television panel game What’s My Line? She was on the first programme in July 1951 and stayed with the show, in which the panel had to guess the occupations of contestants from a brief mime, through most of its 12-year run.

    An extrovert blonde with a quick wit and a deep-throated chuckle, she was part of a regular team that also included Lady Isobel Barnett, the irascible Gilbert Harding and the genial magician David Nixon. Her striking collection of earrings became a newsworthy part of the programme, not least when she dropped one down her dress and Lady Isobel leant over to retrieve it.

    Kelly’s father, an Irishman, was a lorry driver in Vancouver. Her mother, who was from Manchester, forced ballet classes and elocution lessons on her. Deeply unhappy at home, she escaped at 17 to marry Braden.

    Soon after coming to Britain she got a part in a West End play, Male Animal. Later she starred in Angels of Love at the Savoy Theatre, directed by Braden, and she also acted on television. But she never relished the stage, often feeling sick before performances, and happily settled for light entertainment on television. Thanks to What’s My Line?, with its huge viewing figures, she became one of Britain’s best-known and most popular figures.

    Kelly appeared in a number of low-budget films, the least forgettable of which was perhaps Castle in the Air (1952), where she played the brassy American divorcée Mrs Clodfelter Dunne, keen to buy a castle from an impoverished laird. Various sitcoms were created to present the couple together; An Evening at Home with Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly (1951) had an innovative format later borrowed for The Kumars at No 42, but lasted only one series. The Rolling Stones (written in 1960, before the band had formed) was never aired, and a third, B and B (1968), soon vanished.

    In the 1960s Kelly was appointed by British European Airways to head an advice service for women travellers and on ITV presented a series, also aimed at women, on managing the family budget. She also spent three years hosting the ITV show Criss Cross Quiz, but when that ended in 1967 she gradually faded from view.

    The same thing happened to her husband after the BBC ended his series, Braden’s Week, in 1972. Some in the corporation were angry that he had starred in a margarine advert while on contract. A researcher for Braden, Esther Rantzen, went on to host That’s Life, which closely followed the Braden’s Week format. Braden refused to comment, but Kelly, always the more forthright and outspoken of the couple, let her bitterness show. Asked by an interviewer about Rantzen, she said: “I don’t want to discuss her, because I can’t be accountable for what I say.?

    Throughout the 1970s, Kelly’s main activity was running Prime Performers, an agency which booked celebrities for shop openings, cruises and after-dinner speeches. She had more than 1,000 names on her books, including Lord Tebbit, Bob Monkhouse and Will Carling. Her husband began a complementary business, organising conferences.

    Kelly returned to What’s My Line? with the original chairman, Eamonn Andrews, when it was revived on ITV in 1984 and so served another three years with the show. In May 1987 she underwent an operation for throat cancer which, though successful, left her face scarred.

    Braden died in 1993. Kelly is survived by their two daughters. A son predeceased her.

    Barbara Kelly, television personality, was born on October 5, 1924. She died on January 15, 2007, aged 82

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