British stage and film actress Elizabeth Allan was born in Skegness, Lincolnshire. She made her stage debut at the age of 17; her movie debut came about four years later with an appearance in the Hercule Poirot mystery Alibi (1931).
At the beginning of her career, Allan mainly appeared in films for Julius Hagen’s Twickenham Studios, but later signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1935 was a good year for the actress, with roles in two Charles Dickens adaptations: – David Copperfield (1935) and A Tale of Two Cities (1935) – and the star-studded horror Mark of the Vampire (1935).
Allan’s relationship with MGM became strained after they announced her for a leading part in The Citadel (1938), only to then replace her with Rosalind Russell. Not long following this incident, Allan was again replaced in a successful picture, this time by Greer Garson in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). This was the final straw for Allan, and she successfully sued the studio, thus terminating her contract with them.
By the 1950s, Allan was taking on character roles. Notable movies of this period include No Highway in the Sky (1951), The Heart of the Matter (1953), and The Haunted Strangler (1958) (which turned out to be her final film). She also appeared on the UK version of the game show What’s My Line (1951) as a panelist, which got her awarded with Great Britain’s Top Female TV Personality of 1952.
Allan was married to agent Wilfred O’Bryen from 1932 to his death in 1977. She passed away on July 27, 1990 at the age of 80.
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