Marianne Stone: Prolific character actress who appeared in more than 200 films

The accomplished character actress Marianne Stone had the distinction of being the most prolific actress in the UK, appearing in over 200 films, an achievement that earned her a place in the latest Guinness Book of World Records as "the actress with the most screen credits". She has also been hailed in the book English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema for her contribution to the horror movies that flourished in the Sixties, but most of her screen roles were as working-class characters. In two of her earliest films she was respectively a shop assistant in When the Bough Breaks (1947), and a sluggish waitress in Brighton Rock (1947).

Though she occasionally had lines to speak, many of her roles were wordless and uncredited, but she had some pithy roles in the Carry On films (nine of them) and she had a small, but striking, role in Lolita (1962), directed by her friend Stanley Kubrick and adapted from the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Stone played Vivian Darkbloom (an anagram of the author's name), a mysterious lady who is seen dancing with the jaded writer Clare Quilty, played by Peter Sellers. (In the 2001 fantasy Donnie Darko, Maggie Gyllenhaal attends a fancy dress Halloween party as "Vivian Darkbloom", Stone's character.) For 50 years Stone was the wife of the film and theatre reporter, gossip columnist and bon vivant Peter Noble, and the parties they used to give at their rambling house in Abbey Road were legendary.

She was born Mary Stone in London in 1922, and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she became friends with fellow student Richard Attenborough. From 1943 to 1945 she was part of the company performing at the Intimate Theatre in Palmers Green, where she won particular accolades for her performance as the cunning Cockney trollop Betty Watty in Emlyn Williams' The Corn is Green. Noble was a young journalist who covered the Intimate's productions for a local paper, and Stone began to notice that he always gave her favourable reviews, even when her part was minuscule. They began going out together, often joining the Attenboroughs at the Arts Theatre Club, and in 1947 they were wed. They had two daughters, Kara and Katrina, and the marriage lasted until Noble's death in 1997.

In 1946 Stone appeared at the St James Theatre in two alternating plays in repertory produced by the actor-manager John Clements: John Dryden's Marriage à la Mode (in which Moira Lister and Stone played sisters) and the premiere of Margaret Luce's The Kingmaker, a biography of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the key protagonist in the Wars of the Roses. Stone then played Betty Watty again when The Corn is Green was staged at the New Theatre, Bromley, where the actor playing the young miner who is given the chance of a university education was played by the then little-known Bryan Forbes.

Throughout these years she was billed as Mary Stone, but as her career in films got underway she changed her first name to Marianne, though her friends still knew her as Mary Noble.

She made her screen debut in the Arthur Askey musical comedy Miss London Ltd. (1943) and her early roles included a factory girl in Miss Pilgrim's Progress (1950), a "woman in a phone box" in the apocalyptic drama Seven Days to Noon (1950), and in 1954 she played barmaids in three films, You Know What Sailors Are, The Good Die Young and The Gay Dog. Her first foray into the Carry On franchise was in Carry on Nurse (1959), and her flair for comedy was particularly apparent in Carry On at Your Convenience (1971). She was typically a "woman in a scarf" in The Jokers (1967), and in Oh, What a Lovely War (1969), directed by Richard Attenborough, she was a mill girl. Her finest opportunity to display her prowess was probably as Lena Van Broecken in three episodes of the BBC television series Secret Army (1977/8). Her last film appearance was in the gothic tale set in the world of ballet, Deja Vu (1985).

At the parties she and Noble gave, it was quite likely that one would run into top stars, in London to make or promote a film, to appear on stage or just to visit. The Kubricks were good friends, and the family have three paintings by Christiane Kubrick that she gave to the Nobles. One of their regular guests remembers meeting Lana Turner and Sean Connery (the latter not yet a major star), who were filming Another Time, Another Place, and stars who could always be found at the Abbey Road dwelling when in town included such illustrious names as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Roger Moore, Shelley Winters, Paul McCartney and Herbert Lom, who was the best man at their wedding.

Stone is survived by her two daughters and a grandson, Nicholas Frew.

......... Tom Vallance



Marianne Stone, actress: born London 23 August 1922; married 1947 Peter Noble (died 1997, two daughters); died London 21 December 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence