Scottish actress Mary Ure, aged 42, died on 3 April 1975, shortly after the opening night of her new play "The Exorcism". That night she appeared on the London stage with Honor Blackman and Brian Blessed in the Don Taylor play. Mary Ure died from an accidental overdose from a combination of alcohol and barbiturates. She was found by her husband Robert Shaw in their Curzon Street, London, home.
Mary Ure was born in Glasgow as Eileen Mary Ure on 18 February 1933. She was the daughter of civil engineer Colin McGregor Ure and history teacher Edith Swinburne. Mary was educated at the city’s Laurel Bank School and the independent Mount School in York.
|Mary Ure as Mary Burroughs in "Storm Over the Nile" (1955)|
|Mary Ure and writer Arthur Miller rehearsing for "View From a Bridge" (theatre, 1956)|
|Mary Ure as Lee Windom in "Windom's Way" (1957)|
During the Festival of Britain in 1951 there was a nationwide search for an actress to appear as Mary in the York Mystery Plays. Mary’s headmistress urged her to try her luck and she was chosen for the part at the age of sixteen. E.M. Browne, the producer, was so impressed by her talent that he advised her to study in London at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she enrolled for a teaching course. Shortly afterwards Ure began performing on the London stage and quickly developed a reputation for her abilities as a dramatic actress.
|John Osborne and Mary Ure circa 1957|
Her first stage appearance was in "Simon and Laura" in 1954 at the Opera House, Manchester, and she made her London debut as Amanda in the Jean Anouilh play "Time Remembered" (1954) at the Lyric Theatre. While playing Alison Porter in John Osborne's 1956 play "Look Back in Anger", Mary began a relationship with the married playwright, and after he obtained a divorce they married in 1957. The following year she earned a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway production of "Look Back in Anger". In 1959 she starred with Richard Burton and Claire Bloom in the film version, and according to Burton they had an affair. That same year she also had a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon Avon, starring as Desdemona in Othello with Paul Robeson, Albert Finney, Diana Rigg and Vanessa Redgrave.
|Richard Burton and Mary Ure in 'Look Back in Anger" (1959)|
In 1959 her marriage to Osborne was falling apart and she began an affair with actor Robert Shaw while they co-starred in "The Changeling" at London's Royal Court Theatre. She became pregnant, and gave birth to a son, naming him Colin Murray Osborne despite his physical resemblance to Shaw. After her divorce with Osborne, she married Robert Shaw on April 13 1963 and he legally adopted Colin, who then became Colin Murray Shaw. Later, the couple had three more children.
|Vivien Leigh and Mary Ure in "Dual of Angels" (theatre, 1960)|
In 1960 she played Clara Dawes in the film "Sons and Lovers" as Clara Dawes, and was nominated for both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
|Mary Ure with Dean Stockwell in "Sons and Lovers" (1960)|
In 1963, after an absence of three years, she returned to the big screen in the science fiction drama "The Mind Benders" with Dirk Bogarde. In 1968, she made her only blockbuster, "Where Eagles Dare", with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Her last film was "A Reflection of Fear" (1973) co-starring her husband.
|Mary Ure as Mary Ellison in "Where Eagles Dare"|
|Mary Ure with husband Robert Shaw in "A Reflection of Fear" (1972)|
Mary Ure was buried at London Road Cemetery in Coventry.