Zena Dare(1887-1975), Actress
Zena Dare (Florence Harriette Zena Dones)
Sitter in 79 portraits
The daughter of Arthur Dones, a clerk in the Divorce Court, Zena Dare first appeared on stage at the age of 12 in the pantomime Bluebell in Fairyland. At her mother's insistence she continued her education, in Brussels, until she was launched as a major star in the musical comedy The Catch of the Season in 1905. With her younger sister Phyllis, Marie Studholme and Gabrielle Ray, Zena became one of the four reigning beauties of the picture-postcard era; at its height, in 1908, 860 million cards were posted. Further stage successes included The Beauty of Bath and The Gay Gordons, for which P. G. Wodehouse wrote some of the lyrics. In January 1911 Zena married the Hon. Maurice Brett, second son of Viscount Esher, and retired from the stage. After her husband's death in 1934 she started a second stage career in a number of Ivor Novello productions. Her final performances were at Drury Lane and in the celebrated musical production of My Fair Lady (1958), for which Cecil Beaton designed costumes based on the Edwardian postcard portraits that she and others had made so popular in the pre-1914 era.
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