Welcome to a site dedicated to the actress and variety star Renée Houston who died in 1980.
Renée Houston’s life and career is the subject of a forthcoming BMHS talk at the The Water Rats, Gray’s Inn Road, London.
The confirmed date and time will be posted here in coming months.
Funny . . . Feisty . . . Gritty . . . Controversial . . .
The son-bashing battle-axe on ‘Carry On At Your Convenience’ may be her best-remembered role but there’s a lot more to Renée Houston.
Her lifetime’s theatrical appearances number into the tens of thousands and she made almost fifty feature films and appeared on Television at least seventy times.
Among her radio broadcasts her most famous show was Petticoat Line. Radio was a medium that came naturally and the laughter was abundant. She said the things everyone felt but never dared say. Without a doubt, Renée was ‘one of us.’
Back in 1971 Renée was voted the BBC’s most popular woman broadcaster in a poll. She was in her sixties then, known for her small parts in films and TV. She’s one of the few Scottish actors in Carry On films. Petticoat Line, the all-women panel show, was a kind of ‘Loose Women’ of the airwaves and she won many new fans because of it. She wasn’t a ‘1970s star’. Her glory days had happened decades before.
Who would believe she was once one of Britain’s funniest and most glamorous ladies! You have to go back a little to appreciate this.
Part of Renée’s appeal is that she never quite conformed to expectations. She’s also a mystery in some ways. Take the long view of Renée Houston – an entertainer who survived and whose career encompasses several eras of British entertainment.
As well as having a surprisingly rich Film Career, she’s an interesting conduit for discovering Britain’s theatrical past. Years earlier, she played the ‘comedy vamp’ to perfection. She never took her ‘glamour’ too seriously but it left others in awe!
She was sister-in-law to Hollywood’s Brian Aherne,
and wife of film actor Pat Aherne.
A great entertainer in live performance her whole life was devoted to the theatre. Those extravaganzas, troubled revues and plays and radio are all gone but needn’t be forgotten.
You noticed the quality of her voice, its sweetness, its full range. She produced film scripts, a handful of gramophone recordings, gave hundreds and hundreds of press interviews and put her name to one book.
Step back in time to encounter the famous Houston Sisters, Renée and Billie.
Visit that extraordinary, colourful and rather shocking world of Variety that the Sisters knew so well.
Be a fly on the wall, listening to conversations in Dressing Rooms of long ago . . .
Renée left a subtle legacy on British Entertainment, as did her sister Billie and later stage partner and beloved husband, Donald Stewart.
Begin to explore the Theatrical World of Renée Houston:
By the end of the swinging 60s and into the 70s she had the same heart and was a woman of exceptional good cheer. So many timeless actors have come since but few give me so much hope as Renée or have a heart I admire so much. I guess that’s why I wrote a Biography that refers to Renée’s entire career.
. . . Little pieces of theatre history still unravelling.
Shine light on more marvellous mysteries
Thanks for visiting this page.
Message from the Author
To those who have sent messages with feedback and personal stories, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sorry this website is more of a ‘shrine’ than a message board. I will reply to messages. I have been preoccupied and there is a new book, about the children of Sir Winston Churchill, coming soon. I am proud to have had the chance to write about Renée Houston. The joy is in the trying and failing and finding ways and means of doing what you want to do against the odds (as Renée and her lot did)!
Wishing you safety and survival in these uncertain times.