Zena Dare

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Zena Dare (1887-1975) [1] was a British singer and actress.


Born Florence Hariette Zena Dones in Chelsea, London, on 4 February 1887, the oldest of three children. Her sister, Phyllis also became a well-known musical comedy actress, performing as Phyllis Dare.

Making her first appearance on stage in 1899 at the age of 12, appearing in Babes in the Wood (and performing under her real name Florence Dones), she went on to a successful career on stage and film, spanning more than six decades, especially becoming famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy and other musical theatre and comedic plays in the first half of the 20th century.

Besides her acting, she also formed her own production company in 1928, going on tour with it, a year later, took over the management of the Haymarket Theatre.

She passed away on 11 March 1975.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

She toured South Africa on a number of occasions,

In 1928-1929 she undertook a tour with her own company (founded in 1928, shortly after her return to the stage in 1926, after a 15 year break). The male lead was played by Ben Webster ( 1864–1947) and they offered a repertoire consisting of The High Road, The Trial of Mary Dugan, The Squeaker, and Aren't We All?. (South African actor-producer André Huguenet claims to have seen her in stage while he was a schoolboy in Bloemfontein, but this was most probably misremembered, and actually refers to the 1928 tour, when he must have been 22 years of age).

In 1947-48 she toured with Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream

In 1953 she toured with Novello's King's Rhapsody (also featuring Barry Sinclair, Olive Gilbert, Muriel Barron and Anthony Farmer.)



Huguenet, 1950; Binge, 1969; Tucker, 1997)

Photographs held by NELM: [Collection: FARMER, Anthony]: 2007. 18. 11. 2. 26. 16.

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