JEAN BAYLESS- Pantomimes and The Sound Of Music!


Jean Bayless was a huge star- her career saw her appear in three London Palladium Pantomimes, Star on Broadway in “The Boyfriend”, She was the very first Maria in “The Sound Of Music” in London She started her career alongside her friend Audrey Hepburn, she starred in Musicals, Pantomimes and toured the Far East and South Africa. She worked with all the major comics from Norman Evans, Morecambe and Wise, Arthur Askey, Bob Monkhouse, Ronnie Corbett A star of ATV’s “Crossroads”and a very generous and lovely lady. A privilege to have known and worked with her.

Jean Bayless was born in Hackney in 1931. She trained at the Italia Conti school, and at the age of seventeen made her West End debut at The Cambridge Theatre London in a Christmas production.


 On December 22nd 1948 the M.A.D. Society presente a matinée season a of the Italia Conti production of the musical play.” Where The Rainbow Ends.”

This is a first-rate performance with never a false note throughout. John Potter and Jean Bayless play the Carey children with firm and unselfconscious conviction that is most impressive. The children from the Italia Conti Stage School fill the stage with colour and movement to provide at times a vision of ethereal charm.” (The Stage )

Nanette Newman, a fellow student at Italia Conti’s featured in this production. She was later to have a career in films and married the film director Bryan Forbes. She was not the first budding Hollywood star that Jean would work with that year- the young Jean Bayless and Audrey Hepburn were cast in several West End Theatre Revues, again at the Cambridge Theatre.



 Opening on 18th May 1949, This revue style show featured Claud Hulbert, Renee Houston, Zoe Gail, Ronald Frankau, Jean Bayless, Audrey Hepburn, and Aud Johansen.

Jean Bayless & Audrey Hepburn at Ciro’s nightclub 1949

The BBC filmed “Sauce Tartare” onstage at The Cambridge Theatre, adding British and Hollywood star Jessie Mathews to the television presentation by Walton Anderson. Transmitted 4th September 1949.

Zoe Gail, married to Hubert Gregg, was famed for her song “I’m going to get lit up when the lights go on in London”,she had been chosen by Winston Churchill to perform this live in Piccadilly to celebrate the end of the Second World War.

Stage Nov 17th 1949

Sauce Tartare,” the current revue at the Cambridge, will continue to play twice nightly, while Christmas Party,” which opens on December 20 for the season, will have matinee performances daily and three morning performances each week. This will mean that Claude Hulbert, Jack Melford. Joan Heal. Jean Bayless. Aud Johansen, and Audrey Hepburn, who are appearing in both productions, will be playing 21 shows a week.

Jack Hulbert
Renee Huston


Claude Hulbert, Jack Melford, Joan Heal, Jean Bayless, Audrey Hepburn and Aud Johansen.


This review produced again by Cecil Landeau was a short run of only 67 Performances. It opened on 27th April 1950, and once again Jean Bayless was joined by Audrey Hepburn, Aud Johansen and Joan Heal.

This revue featured comedians who would become major players in the future- it introduced Norman Wisdom (Later Sir Norman) and Bob Monkhouse. It featured Revue favourite Douglas Byng and Moira Lister (Later Viscountess ofOrthez) star of many comedy shows and plays.

1950 Saturday Night Revue”- A Television Series. Jean Bayless appeared in three episodes, along with Audrey Hepburn and Aud Johansen, her fellow artistes from “Sauce Piquant”.

1950 BRIGHTON HIPPODROME.  MOTHER GOOSE  – George Gee as Mother Goose, Jill Manners as Colin. Beryl Reid as Gretchen. Jimmy Britton as the Squire. Ron Rowlands as Jack, Jean Bayless as Jill, Bert Martell as the Goose. Roger Williams as the Demon, with specialities by Rita Baker, principal dancer. The Terry Children. J. W. Jackson Girls. Eugene’s Flying Ballet, and Eddie Gordon and Nancy. Opened  December 23.-Feb10th


Jean Bayless took over as Principal Girl replacing Carole Lynne, for the final three weeks of the run. Carole Lynne was married to Bernard Delfont, and would later become Baroness Delfont.

The Pantomime starred Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris,  Adele Dixon. Roy Royston. Sonnie Hale, the George Mitchell Glee Club, the Seven Ashtons. Mary and Erik, Herbert Hare, Evie and Joe Slack, Joan Alexis.

After stepping in for Carole Lynn, that same year Jean Bayless was offered the next Palladium Pantomime by Val Parnell.


With Avril Angers, Bunny Doyle and Jean Bayless.

Noele Gordon & Jean Bayless “Humpty Dumpty


The Pantomime starred Norman Evans, Terry-Thomas as King, Noele Gordon as principal boy, Betty Jumel as Humpty, Jean Bayless as principal girl. The fairy was played by ballerina and actress Gillian Lynne, who played “Puss In Boots” here, and was to become one of the leading choreographers and directors of British Theatre- “Cats”, “Phantom of The Opera” to name but two. She now has a theatre named in her honour in London’s West End.

The Pantomime had its on Opening Dec 22nd December, and it Ran till March 1952.

Derek Salberg in his book “Once upon a pantomime” repeats an anecdote: “Norman Evans played Dame, Terry Thomas was playing the King, with Noele Gordon Principal Boy and Jean Bayless as Girl. In February 1952, King George VI died, and Val Parnell phoned Norman Evans in his hotel to say “Norman, we won’t be playing tonight, the King’s died.”

Norman, always a pro, said “That’s terrible news, but can’t the understudy play the part?” thinking Val was referring to Terry Thomas.


A film starring Hollywood actor Cesare Romero (Known to millions in the ‘60’s as “The Joker” in The Batman TV Series) and Lois Maxwell (later “Miss Moneypenny to James Bond.). Jean had a small role in this movie.

1952. June 12th: CSE (Combined Services Entertainment)

A tour of the Middle East with Clifford Henry, Hugh Lloyd, Fred Lovelle, Jean Bayless, Reg & Barbara Lewis.

1952 MANCHESTER PALACE: Humpty Dumpty :

Norman Evans Patricia Burke, Betty Jumel, Jean Bayless, Jimmy Lee, Maureen Sims.  Ran till March 1953.

Jean had previously worked with Norman Evans at the London Palladium production of this pantomime. Norman was one of the finest Pantomime Dames and a huge Variety star- famous for his “Over The Garden Wall” sketches, on stage and on film. He appeared each year in Humpty Dumpty alongside diminutive Variety star Betty Jumel

Here’s Norman Evans as Fanny Fairbottom “Over The Garden Wall on YouTube:


A Summer Season at Blackool starring Harry Worth, Morecambe & Wise,  Ken Platt, Jean Bayless, Malcolm Goddard, Claudine Goodfellow, Allen Jones.

1953 BIRMINGHAM ROYAL -Humpty Dumpty

 The pantomime again starred  Norman Evans, Patricia Burke, Betty Jumel, Jimmy Lee, Jean Bayless ,and  Maureen Sims.

Jean Bayless teamed up once again with stars from The Manchester Palace and the original Palladium pantomime.

It was during this Pantomime in Birmingham that Jean met her husband to be, David Johnson. Sitting in a box watching the panto he was determined to meet her, which he did. They got engaged in 1955.

1954 GOING GAY: The  CSE (Combined Services Entertainment)  party flew from London Airport to Korea and Malaya for 12 weeks.  Party included Billy Whittaker, Mimi Law, Jean Bayless and Leonard Felix.

Billy and Mimi were husband and wife, and toured together in Pantomimes and Variety shows for all their married life. Ken Dodd often requested Billy to play Dame in his pantomimes. I was fortunate to work with them both in shows. Billy’s father was The Great Coram, a headlining Ventriloquist in the Music Halls with his “automaton”, Jerry!


The Norman Wisdom Show moved from the Palladium to make way for panto.It  transferred to the Prince of Wales for a short season,to the end of Feb 1955.  Jean Bayless joined the show (taking over from Fay Lenore)


 With  Joan Regan, Ken Platt, TheThree Monarchs, Hylda Baker, Jean Bayless, The Two Earls, Waltzing Waters

Jean Bayless was released from this summer season on Sat July 30th  to go to New York in the autumn and succeed Julie Andrews as leading lady in “The Boy Friend” on Broadway.


 Jean Bayless as Polly .

Jean took over the leading role from Julie Andrews who made her American Stage debut in this show the previous year. Producers casting the Broadway “My Fair Lady” saw her as Polly and cast her as Eliza Doolittle.

In the production was Millicent Martin, Dilys Laye and John Hewer, and Anne Wakefield.

 Anne was the only original cast member from “The Players Theatre” original cast to transfer to Broadway .She worked with Jean again, thirty years later in “Perchance To Dream” on tour, which I designed the costumes for.! Anne played Ernestine to Jean’s Lady Charlotte.

Jean recalled that she was going to stay in a Hotel in New York, but Julie Andrews told her “You can’t be there all by yourself, so I slept on her settee for three months- those three months I stayed with her were magical!”

From “The Stage:”  14th May 1955 NAME’S THE SAME – TWO girls who have America to blame for name changes came to Scotland this week. Jeannie Carson was one, up from town for a personal appearance at a Glasgow theatre. She used the Jean until American Equity insisted she couldn’t use that name in the States: there was already another Jean Carson on the book.

 Girl No. 2 with a name-change is Jean Bayless.

 In America she took over from Julie Andrews as the girl friend in The Boy Friend.” American I Equity forced her to the name switch. She was told there was already an American comic named Jean Bayloss and a dancer named Jean Bayliss. So she became Jo Ann Bayless! Then, back in Britain, everybody said: “Weren’t you known once as Jean Bayless?’ Poor Jean gave up, and became plain Jean Bayless again. She still says: “If I were starting my career over again, I’d pick something more glamorous.” P.S. Jean is a 5 ft. I in. bundle of glamour.

Jean got engaged to David Johnson during the US Tour of “The Boyfriend.They got married on 11th December 1957 at Chelsea Register Office, and lived in Chelsea before they moved to Birmingham, where David opened his jewellery shop.

1957 “HIGHLAND FLING” A television series


With Rose Hill, Bernard Cribbins and Jean Bayless.

1958 PRINCE’S THEATRE (now The Shaftesbury) SCHOOL

A New musical “SCHOOL” based on the play by T.W. Robertson, it Opened on March 4th it closed on March 15th after just 22 performances. Presented by Jack Hylton it featured Jean Bayless as Bella, Michael Blakemore, Eleanor Drew, James Maxwell and Geoffrey Taylor.

Jean Bayless was announced in “The Stage” announced as playing Cinderella at the Manchester Palace, with Bob Monkhouse as Buttons- opening in December.  However early in November she gave birth to her son, Daniel Joseph, Jean was replaced by Sally Bazeley.


A return to revue for Jean Bayless in the long running and populat “Five Past” and “Half Past” revues that played the Edinburgh and Glasgow Theatres annually throughout the summer. This production was  with Rikki Fulton, Digby Wolfe, Janet Brown, Peter Butterworth, Jean Bayless, Irene Claire, Eileen Gourlay, Ethel Scott, Clem Ashby, Brina Jones, Robin Palmer, John Auld.

After a long run the production transferred to Glasgow King’s with the new name “The Other Show”

Janet Brown, impressionist and comedienne was married to Peter Butterworth who would later star in the “Carry On” films.


“A Grand Christmas Musical Extravaganza”

Starring Beryl Reid, Bill Maynard, Ivor Emmanuel, Sid Millward, Wally Stewart & the Nitwits, Los Gatos, Jean Bayless, Dunja Duo – ran till Feb 1960.

Jean would later appear opposite popular Welsh singer Ivor Emmanuel in the Palladium Pantomime “Jack and The Beanstalk”.

1961  Saturday March 11th, SATURDAY SPECTACULAR  ATV

A 50 minute TV variety show with Sidney James, Jack Hawkins, Veronica Bravo, Jean Bayless & Davy Jones.

A star studded bill featuring “Carry On” star Sid James, Hollywood Action Star Jack Hawkins, singer Veronica Bravo and Davy Jones . Davy Jones, later to achieve fame as one of “The Monkees” group, had made his television debut this year in Coronation Street, as Ena Sharples’s Grandson. He was The Artful Dodger on London and on Broadway in “Oliver!”

FROM BIRMINGHAM TO BROADWAY TO WEST END– Jean flew to New York to audition for the role of Maria in “The Sound Of Music” to be presented in London’s West End. She auditioned for the show’s composer, Richard Rodgers-and Jean got the part as the first Maria in the British production .That meeting,in her own words:

I was on the stage of the theatre on Broadway rehearsing with the pianist and I didn’t realise that Richard Rodgers was actually there- in the auditorium! Then he appeared and walked down the aisle and said “Jean, you ARE our Maria in London! So just sing the song will you, then we can go and have some lunch!

” So I sang “The Sound Of Music” , I thought we were going to the Wardorf Astoria, but we ended up in a hamburger joint around the corner, and I had a hamburger with Richard Rodgers! I have never enjoyed a hamburger so much!

Julie Andrews was appearing in Camelot on Broadway, and Jean called in to see her. “Richard Burton came into her dressing room and she told him “Jean’s got the part of Maria in The Sound Of Music”, and he said “Jean’s so pretty she could get anything”


London run: Palace, May 18th (2,385 Performances)

Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II, Director: Vincent J. Donehue, re-staged by Jerome Whyte, Choreographer: Joe Layton,Musical Director: Robert Lowe

Cast:  Jean Bayless (Maria), Roger Dann (Captain von Trapp),Eunice Gayson (Elsa),Harold Kasket (Max Detweiler),Constance Shacklock (Mother Abbess), Barbara Brown (Liesl), Nicholas Bennett (Rolf), Olive Gilbert (Sister Margaret)

Jean Bayliss played Maria  until June 15th 1963

During the “How do you solve a problem like Maria” television quest, Jean Bayless was courted for her opinions about the role. Here is a photo of Jean, with Julie Andrews and Connie Fisher at the 02 attending Dame Julie’s show.

 She has talked about the operation she had to her throat eighteen years ago that resulted in her voice not being what it once was. Dame Julie of course had a similar operation, and Jean commented that she had a similar result. Ironically very recently Connie Fisher too has suffered throat problems and received treatment. These three “Marias” have had very similar experiences and all survived with charm and humour


GLASGOW KING’S :  “LilacTime”

Jean Bayless., John Larsen, Billy Milton

Stage: April 16th 1964- “Jean Bayless, Mrs David Johnson, gave birth to a son, Adam, last weekend”


Tom Arnold presented “The World and Music of Ivor Novello”, with  John Hanson, Jean Bayless, chorus and ballet. The show played short seasons at Bournemouth. Southsea, Bristol, Oxford, Manchester. Nottingham, Liverpool Glasgow, Coventry, Cardiff ,and  Birmingham.


Stage: Thursday January 20th 1966- Billy Fury, who has been playing Aladdin at the Oxford New, has been ordered by his doctor to rest his voice. He left the show after last Saturday night’s performance. Jean Bayless, who was last seen in Oxford in May, in “The World and Music of Ivor Novello”, took over the part of Aladdin at three day’s notice. John Dorrill, managing director of the Oxford New says, “Billy Fury has been having special treatment for his throat for about three weeks and has been struggling through his performances under great difficulties”.

Jean Bayless replaced the Pop Star Billy Fury as Principal Boy- playing Aladdin opposite Pantomime and West End veteran Laurie Lupino Lane, with Ray Fell, Gamblers, Sid Plummer, Cheryl Kennedy, Angela Ryder, Pan Yue Jen, Peter Dixon, and Darryl Stewart .

This pantomime is featured on this site in the articles section- “Angela Ryder A Scrapbook”

Shortly after the Pantomime, in April 1967, Jean returned to her Novello tour, and returned to Oxford. John Hanson was replaced by Bruce Trent & Barry Sinclair.


JOHN MOFFATT, prolific pantomime writer, played Dame Trot in his own version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, opening on December 22. Jean Bayless played Jack and the cast included Valerie Carton, Brian Coburn. Robert Doming, Michael Rothwell, Robert Bridges, Mari gold Sharman, Marie Kingston, Graham James and Jean Muir. Wendy Toye Directed.

Stage: February 29th 1968-  JEAN BAYLESS, who created Maria in the London production of “The Sound of Music”, has been invited by the Light Opera Company of New Zealand to play the part in their production at His Majesty’s in Auckland, opening on April 27.


June Bronhil, starring in this tour,  had to leave leave the cast of “The Dancing Years” at Nottingham Royal on Friday last and was rushed to a London hospital for an operation. Pauline Greta, who understudied during the London run, travelled to Nottingham to keep the curtain up. Jean Bayless took over, and continued with the tour at Nottingham.

Cast:  Jean Bayless, Nicholas Hawtrey, Robert Crewdyson, Maoyna Coope, Cathy Jose, Enrico Giacomini


Opened on December 17th 1968, starring Jimmy Tarbuck, Ivor Emmanuel, Jean Bayless, Arthur Askey, Charlie Cairoli, and Audrey Jeans.

Jean Bayless with Ivor Emmanuel
Ivor Emmanuel with Jean Bayless
Charlie Cairoli & Company


 directed by Frank Adey, with Byron Brooke as musical director and Carol Godin the choreographer. In the cast were Ted Rogers, Jean Bayless, Marion Grimaldi, Tommy Rose, Noelle Finch, The Patton Brothers, George Raymonde, Charlie Stewart, Elisabeth Wade, the Alexandra Dancers and Singers, with Eugene’s Flying Ballet, Douglas George’s Lilliput Ponies and Currie’s Comedy Bathroom.

Brian Patton recalls the Pantomimes with Ronnie Corbett and Ted Rogers- Jean Bayless as Principal Girl. “She was a lovely Cinders, She was great fun too. We had at Birmingham the lovely Lynn Kennington as Prince. They were great together and lovely lasses”

 1970 SHAW SAVILLE CRUISE LINE–  The cruise line operated nine cruises by Northern Star and Southern Cross . The leading lady was Jean Bayless,  supported by Jennifer Burch, Deanna Linden, Sheila Dawson, Ian Calvin, David Wheldon-Williams, Norman Colson, George Raebitt ,and comedian Dave Starr .


Veteran Variety stars Sandy Powell, Bob and Alf Pearson, Leslie Sarony and Marjory Manners with Jean Bayless. The original stars of Radio and Variety Halls were joined by Jean Bayless. Marjory Manners had been a top Principal Boy in Pantomime in the 1940’s and a “Chorus Singer”- Sandy Powell’s catchphrase “Can you hear me Mother?” was heard in every front room booming out from the radio in the 1940’s and ’50’s- his ventriloquist sketch with his wife Kay White can be seen on Youtube- brilliantly funny- and Bob and Alf Pearson “My Brother and I” were on Radio in the 1930’s and throughout the war as headliners. Lesley Sarony was a music Hall comic, singer and eccentric dancer. All in all a splendid bill topped by Jean’s beautiful singing.


 Ronnie Corbett as Buttons, Jean Bayless as Cinderella,  Lynn Kennington and Noelle Finch as Dandini and Prince. Janet Hargreaves. The Mistins. The Patton Brothers-Jimmy & Brian Patton,as Broker’s Men.  Paul Page & his Puppet Wonderland. Tommy Rose & George Raymonde as The Ugly Sisters. Charlie Stewart. Sons And Lovers. The Alexandra Dancers. Douglas George’s Lilllput Ponies (Derek. Salberg).

Derek Salberg’s book “Once Upon A Pantomime” says of Jean “Her exquisite voice, lovely face and personality” as Cinderella.

Brian Patton recalls “Ronnie Corbett was Buttons, he took us with him to the Palladium- we did every Panto with Ronnie after that as “Uglies” at Newcastle, Bromley and Cardiff. Ronnie wanted us (The Patton Brothers) for The Wire Act and other bits with him”.

Janet Hargreaves and Jean Bayless were friends. Janet went on to play Rosemary Hunter in ATV’s Crossroads the following year, 1971. The star of Crossroads was Noelle Gordon, who appeared in The Palladium Pantomime 1951, Humpty Dumpty playing opposite Jean Bayless.

Janet Hargreaves as Rosemary Hunter in Crossroads.

It was Janet Hargreaves who told Noelle Gordon that Jean lived in Birmingham. The friends re-united, and the part of Cynthia Cunningham was created for Jean!

1972- 1973 ATV’s “CROSSROADS”

Jean Bayless as Cynthia Cunningham
Noele Gordon- Meg Mortimer

Jean Bayless played Chef Cynthia Cunningham in the popular peak time “soap”, set in a Motel in the Midlands.

The series ran from 1964 to 1988, and at its peak had 15 million viewers. The Principal cast were Noele Gordon (Jean’s former Prince in The Palladium Pantomime) and Jane Rossington, Roger Tongue, Ronald Allen, Ann George, Paul Henry (“Benny”), Lynette McMorrough.

Jean Bayless was resident in Birmingham, and her husband had his businesses here. The filming of Interior Motel was at the Birmingham Broad Street and Gas Street. Studios

Jean’s sons, Daniel and Adam made an onscreen appearance when “Crossroads” was filming at The Chateau Impney Hotel in 1972. The hotel was the setting for Meg (Noele Gordon’s ) Wedding to Hugh Mortimer.

Jean’s friend Rosemary played the unhinged wife of David Hunter. in 1980 Rosemary shot him, but the gun failed to fire- Actor Ronald allen burst the fake blood bag and soaked his expensive suit- and the scene has been repeated on “It’ll be alright on the night” frequently! Janet went on to play the mysterious Mrs Boyle in London’s “The Mousetrap” opposite Andrew Ryan for a year. A few years earlier Andrew played opposite Jean in a comedy. A small world is theatre!

Details of “Crossroads Motel” can be found in


Presented by Richmond Theatre– An Arabian Nights Musical- The Stage 1972: ” Scheherazade is played by Jean BayIess as a spirited, fiery personality and although Otto Ferrari’s music is quite un- memorable she sings well enough and looks suitably ravishing in a series of see- through garments. Nita Howard’s choreography keeps the shapely girls moving enticingly at regular intervals, providing the largest proportion of the shows colour.

The show toured to Richmond, Eastbourne. Birmingham,

 1972 KINGS RHAPSODYNational Tour

 Directed by Alexander Bridge, at Wimbledon, followed by Southsea, Hull,_ Nottingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Eastbourne, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sunderland.

 The company included Jean Bayless, Dermot Walsh, Olive Gilbert, Alexander Bridge, Eileen Farrow, Mary Jowes, Christopher Molloy, John Aron, Audrey Laybourne, Jonathan Gardner, Jilly Coram, Polly Northwood, Roger Farrant,and  Russell Grant.

Olive Gilbert was the star of Ivor Novello’s Musicals, and his dearest friend. They had apartments in Wardorf Chambers, Aldwych, next to each other. Years later these apartments became the offices of Pantomime Impressario Paul Elliott.

.Jean and Olive were both in the original production of “The Sound Of Music” together at the Palace Theatre London in 1961.

Russell Grant appeared in many tours and musicals before his career as a nationally syndicated Astrologer and media personality took over. His career has included presenting This Morning and Good Morning Britain, Strictly and Masterchef.

From October 9th Jean Bayless was replaced in this tour by Lynn Kennington, her Pantomime Prince from The Birmingham Alex Production. (Jean had a previous commitment to return to ATV’s Crossroads.


Starring Ronnie Corbett, Rod Hull & Emu,  Kenneth McKellar, Jean Bayless, Suzanne & Fudi, Ludmila Nova


For Delfont/Mills , opening October 4th – November 23rd.

Leonard Sachs introduced:  Max Wall, Ronnie Ronalde, Audrey Jeans, Joe Church, Jean Bayless, Gil Dova, Regina Baranton,  ‘The Good Old Days’ was staged by Dick Hurran . It is only the second time the original BBC show as presented for television had been performed for a theatre season.

September 4th 1976

At the Cafe Royal on September 4, the Theatre Healing Guild was launched at the 2 1st anniversary celebrations of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers. Supporters from among the profession, in this photo of 83-year-old Harry Edwards, world leader of the healing movement, cutting the birthday cake, are, from left to right, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Jack Allen. Anna Karen, Jenny Tomasin, Damaris Hayman, Jean Bayless, Dennis Vink and Rissa Cooper.

Anna Karen recalls it was famed spiritualist Harry’s birthday, and stars of the West End were invited- here Jean is helping Harry cut his cake!

 1983  GIGI – A National Tour

Starring Fenella Fielding, James Villiers, Avril Angers, Elisabeth Scott, Jean Bayless, Muriel Barker and David Crosse in the cast. Hubert Gregg, who also composed the incidental music, directs.

Jean Bayless and Fenella Fielding were Best friends, remaining so for the rest of their lives. Both ladies had experienced working in Theatre Revues when the genre was at its height- as had Audrey Hepburn, who appeared in three with Jean in The West End.

1984 BLITHE SPIRIT – A National Tour

Opened 31st March at The Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon.

QUILLBELL Ltd  presented a tour of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”, starring Elspeth March as Madam Arcati, James Villiers as Charles,  Adrienne Corri as Ruth, , Elisabeth Scott as Elvira,  David Crosse as Dr. Bradman.  Jean Bayless as Mrs Bradman, and Stacey Gregg as Edith, with Hubert Gregg directing and design by Paul Gambrill


There were preview performance at Hanley from August 22 to 24 and an official opening night at the Hippodrome, Bristol on August 26. Directed by Jimmy Thompson

Simon Ward, Jean Bayless, Joan Lawrence, Diana Martin, Larry Drew and Ann Wakefield in leading roles.

This production rehearsed in London, and I designed the costumes for the show. Jean played Lady Charlotte Fayre (later “Aunt Chatty”) in the musical. She performed “We’ll Gather Lilacs” in this traditionally non singing role.

Nigel Ellacott with Jean Bayless and Joan Lawrence on the set

I had seven gowns made for Jean, in both the  Regency and Victorian style. She looked simply gorgeous. Many nights she would leave the theatre on tour looking totally glamorous and step into the car which her husband David would have warmed and waiting outside Stage Door. A true star exit!

Simon Ward in “Perchance To Dream”

1993 NO SEX PLEASE, WE’RE BRITISH! The Octagon Theatre Yeovil.

Presented by Alexander Bridge- Jean had appeared with this management before in “King’s Rhapsody”. Jean Bayless played Eleanor Hunter with Bruce James, Damian Williams, Andrew Ryan, Nicola Boyce, Alan Terry, Susan Wolfson, Joanna Dudley and Craig Scarborough.

Jean, a long time resident of Birmingham came to visit Andrew Ryan at The Birmingham Hippodrome when he was in Panto. She also visited me in Wolverhampton in Panto. Here are two photos of these lovely meetings.

Nigel & Jean backstage Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton Grand with David & David and Peter
Andrew Ryan & Jean backstage Birmingham Hippodrome

It was a joy to give Jean a tour backstage at The Grand- Andrew did the same at Birmingham, along with her close friends David Hartshorne and David Lilley- “David and David” .

L to R: Valerie Leon, , Amy Macdonald, Vicki Michelle, Jean Bayless, Anita Harris & Jackie Piper
Jean with her friend Martin Milnes, Author of the book Wild Card

Jean Bayless passed away in Birmingham on Friday, February 5th. She is survived by her sons Daniel and Adam, and her five Granddaughters, and so greatly missed by her family, her many friends in and out of “Show Business” and fans of Musical Theatre the world over.I was so privileged to have worked with and known Jean- The lady truly was- A Star!

In her son Daniel Johnson’s words:“She was a very gregarious and hospitable person, a very cool woman, if there were more people like her it would make the world a happier place”


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