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.

News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin