Mary Ure

Mary Ure

Mary Ure in the film Where Eagles Dare (1968)
Born Eileen Mary Ure
18 February 1933(1933-02-18)
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 3 April 1975(1975-04-03) (aged 42)
London, England
Years active 1955–1974
Spouse John Osborne (1957–1963)
Robert Shaw (1963–1975)

Eileen Mary Ure (18 February 1933 – 3 April 1975) was a Scottish actress of stage and film.


Early life

Born in Glasgow where she studied at the school of drama, Ure was the daughter of civil engineer Colin McGregor Ure and Edith Swinburne. She went to the independent Mount School in York and trained for the stage at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Known for her beauty, Ure began performing on the London stage and quickly developed a reputation for her abilities as a dramatic actress.

Stage career

While performing a leading role in John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956) she began a relationship with the married dramatist; after he obtained a divorce they married in 1957. In 1958, she was in the Broadway production of Look Back in Anger and earned a Tony Award nomination for best dramatic actress. In the 1959 film version, Ure reprised her role with Richard Burton as Jimmy Porter. But her marriage to the womanizing John Osborne was already in difficulty and in 1959 she began an affair with actor Robert Shaw while they co-starred in The Changeling at London's Royal Court Theatre. She gave birth to a son, naming him Colin Murray Osborne despite his physical resemblance to Shaw. She married Shaw on 13 April 1963 and as a married couple Shaw legally adopted Colin who then became Colin Murray Shaw.[1] The couple went on to have three more children.


In 1960 she appeared in the film Sons and Lovers and was nominated for both the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1960 she took time off to begin a family, returning to motion pictures in the sci-fi drama The Mind Benders (1962) starring Dirk Bogarde in which she provided a wonderfully layered performance. In 1967 Ure appeared in a film with her husband Robert Shaw. The following year she was cast with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood in the box office success Where Eagles Dare. Then in 1968 she appeared with Shaw as his wife in Custer of the West.

Ure did not return to film for another five years, although she did perform on stage. However her personal life was in turmoil and her growing alcoholism affected her career to the point that she was fired from the 1974 pre-Broadway production of Love for Love and was replaced by her understudy Glenn Close.

Decline and death

Despite her professional successes, and her ostensibly happy motherhood, Ure's mental health deteriorated.[2]

On April 2, 1975 she appeared on the London stage with Honor Blackman and Brian Blessed in The Exorcism, and, after a disastrous opening night, she was found dead of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturate, by her husband Robert Shaw in their London home. She was 42 years old.[3]

Plays (partial list)



  1. ^ Heilpern, p.270
  2. ^ Heilpern, p. 212
  3. ^ Obituary Variety, April 9, 1975, page 78.

Major sources

  • Heilpern, John (2006). John Osborne: A Patriot for Us. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-70116-780-7. 
  • Upton, Julian (2004). Fallen Stars. Critical Vision. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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