Vale – Kathleen Byron

Kathleen Byron - (1921-2009) Photo (C) Wikipedia
Kathleen Byron - (1921-2009) Photo (C) Wikipedia

I want to bring to your attention today the passing of stage and screen veteran Kathleen Byron, an English actress best known for her portrayal of Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus, a film from 1947 portraying the lives of a group of Nuns in a mountainside convent. Starring opposite Deborah Kerr, David Farrar and Jean Simmons, Byron won critical praise for her work ojn the film, and continued to find herself in demand throughout her career.

In recent times she had a small role in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, as the elderly Ryan’s wife, in the film’s two gravesite bookends. As well as a small role in 1996’s Emma, with a young Gwenyth Paltrow, and the non-musical version of Les Miserables from ’98, Byron had continued to work in TV and on stage right up until her death.

Kathleen Byron and David Farrar in A Small Black Room.
Kathleen Byron and David Farrar in A Small Black Room.

She gained fame as Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus, and consolidated this with appearances in films like A Matter of Life And Death (as an angel) and The Small Black Room. During the 60’s and 70’s she concentrated primarily on her television work, and in 1980, appeared in David Lynch’s seminal work, The Elephant Man.

Vale, Kathleen Byron.

© 2009, All rights reserved.


  1. While obviously not good to die, I do like theses posts that you do, as they are a great way of paying homage to the persons life, letting us reflect on them.

    I never really took any notice, or knew of Kathleen, probably because most of her big work was from well before I was born, or of films I haven't seen, but now I know a lot more about her.

    Thank you.

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Never blessed with a body worthy of a porn star, nor being the heir to a wealthy industrialists fortune, nor suffering the tragedy of having his parents murdered outside a Gotham theater, Rodney is, contrary to popular opinion, neither Ron Jeremy, JD Rockefeller, or Batman. As a serious appreciator of film since 1996, Rodney's love affair with the medium has continued with his online blog, Fernby Films, a facility allowing him to communicate with fellow cineasts in their mutual love of all things movie.

Vale – Kathleen Byron

by Rodney Twelftree
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