Moira Lister

Moira Lister de Gachassin-Lafite, Vicomtesse d’Orthez (6 August 1923  27 October 2007) was a South African-born, English film, stage and television actress and writer.

Moira Lister
Lister in 1973
Born(1923-08-06)6 August 1923
Died27 October 2007(2007-10-27) (aged 84)
Cape Town, South Africa
Years active1947–2004
Vicomte d’Orthez
(m. 1951; died 1989)

Early life

Born in Cape Town to Major James Lister and Margaret (née Hogan), Lister was educated at the Parktown Convent of the Holy Family, Johannesburg.[1] She was a theatre student of Anna Romain Hoffman, who with her husband Arthur Hoffman built up The Johannesburg Repertory Theatre.


She began her acting career on stage in South Africa and then went on to act in the London theatre at the age of 18.[2] Lister began working in films in 1943, and appeared in such films as The Limping Man (1953), The Cruel Sea (1953) and The Deep Blue Sea (1955).

She had a regular role in the first series of the BBC radio comedy Hancock's Half Hour in 1954–55,[3] and was also one of the girlfriends in A Life of Bliss starring George Cole as David Bliss, a perpetual bachelor. She starred in the BBC television series The Whitehall Worrier and The Very Merry Widow from 1967 to 1968.[4] (Later series of this programme were titled The Very Merry Widow — and How!) Lister also appeared on various other British TV series such as Danger Man and The Avengers ("The See-Through Man", 1967). In 1980, she made a guest appearance as a film star in the sitcom Only When I Laugh.

Lister was still performing until three years before her death, touring with her one-woman show about Noël Coward. She belonged to the British Catholic Stage Guild.

Personal life

In 1946, Lister went on a date in London with Neville Heath, a former South African Air Force captain who murdered two women in London only months later.[1][5] Heath was convicted after a sensational trial, and he was hanged in October 1946.[6]

In 1951, Moira Lister married Jacques de Gachassin-Lafite Vicomte d’Orthez, a French officer of the Spahis, owner of a champagne vineyard and hero of the Rif War; they had two daughters, Chantal and Christobel. Lister also had two grand-daughters, Christina d'Orthez and Marina d'Orthez.

Moira Lister died at the age of 84 in 2007. Both she and her husband are interred in the churchyard of St Edward's Catholic Church in Sutton Green, Surrey.[7]


  • Naledi Award, a lifetime achievement award for her services to the theatre in South Africa.[7]
  • Best Actress of the Year (1971)
  • Freedom of the City of London (2000)



Year Title Role Notes
1943 The Shipbuilders Rita
1944 A Lady Surrenders Carol
1945 My Ain Folk Joan Mackenzie
1945 Don Chicago Telephone Operator
1945 The Agitator Joan Shackleton
1946 Wanted for Murder Miss Willis AKA, A Voice in the Night
1948 So Evil My Love Kitty Feathers
1948 Uneasy Terms Corinne Alardyse
1948 Another Shore Jennifer
1949 Maniacs on Wheels Dotty Liz
1949 A Run for Your Money Jo
1951 Files from Scotland Yard Joanna Goring
1951 Pool of London Maisie
1951 My Seal and Them Diana
1951 White Corridors Dolly Clark
1952 Something Money Can't Buy Diana Haverstock
1953 The Cruel Sea Elaine Morell
1953 Grand National Night Babs Coates
1953 The Limping Man Pauline French
1953 Trouble in Store Peggy Drew
1955 John and Julie Dora
1955 The Deep Blue Sea Dawn Maxwell
1957 Seven Waves Away Edith Middleton AKA, Abandon Ship
1964 The Yellow Rolls-Royce Lady Angela St. Simeon
1965 Joey Boy Lady Thameridge
1967 The Double Man Mrs. Carrington
1967 Cop-Out Mrs. Flower
1973 Not Now, Darling Maude Bodley
1989 Ten Little Indians Ethel Mae Rodgers
2007 Flood Grandma


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Frieda Frieda TV film
1949 And So to Bed Mrs. Pepys TV film
1950 Sunday Night Theatre Senora Maria "The Bridge of Estaban"
1951 Joseph Proctor's Money Poppy Marsh TV film
1954 The Concert Anne TV film
1954 The Bear Yelena Ivanovna Popova TV short
1954 Stage by Stage Berinthia "The Relapse or, Virtue in Danger"
1956 Douglas Fairbanks Presents Eve "The Intruder"
1956 ITV Play of the Week Letty Golightly "The Golden Cuckoo"
1957 ITV Play of the Week Maggie Palmer "His and Hers"
1957 Armchair Theatre Mathilde Loisel "The Necklace"
1957 Sunday Night Theatre Amelia Laurenson "Mayors' Nest"
1957 Sunday Night Theatre Orinthia "The Apple Cart"
1960 Somerset Maugham Hour Vesta Grange "Flotsam and Jetsam"
1960 Theatre Night Nell Nash "The Gazebo"
1961 Danger Man Vanessa Stewart "Find and Return"
1961 ITV Play of the Week Louise Yeyder "Gilt and Gingerbread"
1963 Zero One Mrs. Grey "The Golden Silence"
1964 Thursday Theatre Laura Foster "Simon and Laura"
1966 Danger Man Claudia Jordan "The Hunting Party"
1966 Theatre 625 Laura Foster "Simon and Laura"
1966 Comedy Playhouse Janet Pugh "The Mallard Imaginaire"
1966 Major Barbara Lady Britomart TV film
1967 The Avengers Elena "The See-Through Man"
1967 The Whitehall Worrier Janet Pugh TV series
1967–68 The Very Merry Widow Jacqui Villiers TV series
1968 A Touch of Venus Emma Grant "Desmond"
1968 The Sex Game Mimsy "The Lovemakers"
1969 Love Story Ariade "The Dolly Spike"
1969 The Very Merry Widow and How Jacqui Villiers TV series
1973 Late Night Theatre Vicky Labone "She'll Have to Go"
1980 Life Begins at Forty Gertie "The Christening"
1980 Only When I Laugh Gloria "Whatever Happened to Gloria Robins?"
1984 Hayfever Judith Bliss TV film
1987 The Finding Gran TV film
2000 The 10th Kingdom Grandmother TV miniseries
2005 Sterne über Madeira Mutter Oberin TV film


  • The Very Merry Moira (1971)


  1. "Moira Lister". The Daily Telegraph. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. Jani Allan (1980s). Face Value. Longstreet.
  3. Shorter, Eric (30 October 2007). "Moira Lister". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  4. "Moira Lister". The Times. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2017.(subscription required)
  5. Lister, Moira (1 December 1969). The Very Merry Widow Moira. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9780340106327.
  6. O'Connor, Sean (27 February 2014). Handsome Brute: The True Story of a Ladykiller. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781471101359.
  7. "Moira Lister". The Independent. 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
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