Nyree Dawn Porter

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Nyree Dawn Porter

Nyree Dawn Porter.png
Porter photographed by Vivienne, 1960s
Ngaire Dawn Porter

(1936-01-22)January 22, 1936
DiedApril 10, 2001(2001-04-10) (aged 65)
Wandsworth, London, England
Years active1954–1998
Byron O'Leary
(m. 1959; died 1970)

Robin Halstead
(m. 1975; div. 1987)

Nyree Dawn Porter[a] OBE (born Ngaire Dawn Porter; 22 January 1936 – 10 April 2001) was a New Zealand–British actress.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Porter was born in Napier, New Zealand in 1936.[2] Her first professional work was touring with the New Zealand Players Trust. She was acclaimed for such roles as Jessica in The Merchant of Venice and Juliet in Romanoff and Juliet.[3] She also performed in revues and musicals. She moved to Britain in 1958 after winning a Miss Cinema talent competition for young actresses organised by Rank, with the prize of a round-the-world trip and a film test in London.[3] Although the test was probably little more than a publicity stunt, she decided to stay and was soon acting in the theatre.[4] Look Who's Here at the Fortune Theatre in Drury Lane was her first West End appearance.[5] She followed this with the role of Connie in Neil Simon's first West End play, Come Blow Your Horn, and a string of other appearances.[3] She had two roles in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, at the National Theatre in 1990 and played Olivia in Twelfth Night at the Shaw Theatre, and Rosalind in As You Like It at the Ludlow Festival.[6][3] She later toured in Australia, in Jeffrey Archer's Beyond Reasonable Doubt, and later in The King and I.[7]

Television and films[edit]

She appeared in several television productions, including an early episode of The Avengers ("Death on The Slipway", 1961); and the title role in the BBC's 1964 adaptation of Madame Bovary.[8][2]

Porter is probably best remembered for her role as Irene in the hit BBC series The Forsyte Saga.[9] The 1967 series, which attracted audiences of 18 million, saw her described by critics as "the first romantic sex symbol of the telly age."[4][10] She herself said, "I was an unknown theatre actress and Irene gave me international fame and opened doors for me".[1]

Although subsequently finding similar high-profile roles harder to come by, she starred in the 1968 comedy series Never a Cross Word and four years later opposite Robert Vaughn in Gerry Anderson's live-action series The Protectors.[10][1] Porter also played the title role in the 26-part daytime serial For Maddie with Love, as a woman with only a few months left to live.[11] Her screen husband was played by Ian Hendry. The programme ran for two series, in 1980 and 1981.

Her film appearances included The Cracksman (1963), Two Left Feet (1963) and two horror anthologies: The House That Dripped Blood (1971) and From Beyond the Grave (1974).[2] She also appeared in Hilary and Jackie (1998), as the ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.[12]

Awards and honours[edit]

In the 1970 Birthday Honours, Porter was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to television.[10]

In 1975, she won the Spanish TP de Oro 'Best Foreign Actress' award for The Protectors.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Her first husband, Byron O'Leary, died in 1970 of an accidental drug overdose. In 1975 she married actor Robin Halstead after the birth of their daughter, Natalya Francesca Halstead. The couple divorced in 1987.[3]


She died in Wandsworth, London, in 2001 from leukaemia, aged 65.[14] She was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium and her ashes buried in the cemetery there.[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1960 Identity Unknown Pam
1960 Sentenced for Life Betty Martin
1961 Part-Time Wife Jenny Briggs
1962 Live Now, Pay Later Marjorie Mason
1963 The Cracksman Muriel
1965 Two Left Feet Eileen
1971 The House That Dripped Blood Ann Segment: "Sweets to the Sweet"
1974 From Beyond the Grave Susan Warren Segment: "The Elemental"
1976 Morir... dormir... tal vez sonar Ana Mari
1998 Hilary and Jackie Margot Fonteyn


Year Title Role Notes
1959 ITV Play of the Week Vera Berridge "Touch Wood"
1960 Deadline Midnight Julie Sykes "1.5"
1960 Man from Interpol Mary "The Soul Peddlers"
1960 Danger Man Stewardess "The Island"
1961 The Avengers Liz Wells "Death on the Slipway"
1961 Drama 61-67 Mary Mills "The Diamond Run"
1961 Armchair Theatre Mildred "His Polyvinyl Girl"
1961 Edgar Wallace Mysteries Mary Greer "Man at the Carlton Tower"
1962 Reunion Day Judith Rubin TV film
1962 The Third Man Miss Wyvern "A Question of Libel"
1963 Corrigan Blake Francesca "The Scientific Approach"
1963 No Hiding Place Vicky West "Death of Samantha"
1963 Drama 61-67 Caroline West "Dead Darling"
1963 ITV Play of the Week Vicky, the Princess Aziza "Vicky and the Sultan"
1964 Madame Bovary Emma Bovary TV miniseries
1964 Ghost Squad Yvette "It Won't Be a Stylish Marriage"
1964 Judith Paris Judith Paris TV miniseries
1964 The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling Janoo "The Sending of Dana Da"
1964 The Saint Patsy Butler "The Scorpion"
1964 Love Story Tina Morris "Arranged for Strings"
1965 Public Eye Sheila Reynolds "I Went to Borrow a Pencil, and Look What I Found"
1965 Thursday Theatre Agnes Potter "The Kidders"
1965 Sherlock Holmes Lady Brackenstall "The Abbey Grange"
1965 Six Shades of Black Melusine "A Loving Disposition"
1965 ITV Play of the Week Nina "A Couple of Dry Martinis"
1965 Armchair Mystery Theatre Lisa "Wake a Stranger"
1965 Blackmail Mrs. Donahoe "The Case of the Phantom Lover"
1966 The Liars Hermione TV series
1967 The Forsyte Saga Irene Forsyte Main role
1968 The Gamblers Rita Ironside "Mates!"
1968 Armchair Theatre Barbara "A Second Look"
1968 Never a Cross Word Deirdre Baldock TV series
1970 Hassan Pervaneh TV film
1970 Jane Eyre Blanche Ingram TV film
1972–1974 The Protectors Contessa Caroline di Contini Main role
1973 Armchair 30 Stephanie "Ross Evan's Story"
1974 Thriller Laura Vallance "Ring Once for Death" (US title: "Death in Small Doses")
1976 Softly, Softly Jane Rawlings "Alarums and Excursions"
1980 The Martian Chronicles Alice Hathaway TV miniseries
1980 For Maddie with Love Maddie Laurie Main role
1986 David Copperfield Mrs. Steerforth TV miniseries


  1. ^ Nyree is the phonetic spelling of Porter's Māori birth forename Ngaire.


  1. ^ a b c "Nyree Dawn Porter; TV, Theater Actress". Los Angeles Times. 12 April 2001.
  2. ^ a b c "Nyree Dawn Porter". BFI.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Obituaries: Nyree Dawn Porter". The Daily Telegraph. London. 12 April 2001. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Nyree Dawn Porter". HeraldScotland.
  5. ^ "Look Who's Here! - 1960 Original Cast" – via castalbums.org.
  6. ^ "Production of Sunday in the Park with George | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  7. ^ "Nyree Dawn Porter profile". The Bulletin (5780). Sydney. 1991. p. 20.
  8. ^ White, Leonard (2003). Armchair Theatre: The Lost Years. Tiverton, Cheshire, England: Kelly Publications. p. 261. ISBN 978-1-903053-18-8.
  9. ^ "Nyree Dawn Porter | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  10. ^ a b c Gelder, Lawrence Van (14 April 2001). "Nyree Dawn Porter, 61, Actress In 'The Forsyte Saga' of the 60's" – via NYTimes.com.
  11. ^ "For Maddie with Love Episode 1 (1980)". BFI.
  12. ^ Stratton, David (13 January 1999). "Hilary and Jackie".
  13. ^ Screen, NZ On. "Nyree Dawn Porter | NZ On Screen". www.nzonscreen.com.
  14. ^ Barker, Dennis (12 April 2001). "Nyree Dawn Porter". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  15. ^ Resting Places

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