Welcome

Welcome to a site dedicated to the actress and variety star Renée Houston who died in 1980.

Funny  . . .  Feisty . . .  Gritty  . . . Controversial  . . .

 Best known today for her performance as the battle-axe who spanks her strike-leading son in ‘Carry On At Your Convenience,’ there’s a lot more worth knowing about Renée Houston. Who would believe she was once one of Britain’s funniest and most glamorous ladies! As well several thousands of theatrical appearances, Renée made forty seven feature films, appeared in several film shorts and news items and made at least seventy British Television appearances.

She was on countless radio broadcasts in Britain – most famously 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.  Her career revived on account of Petticoat Line, the all-women panel show. It 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.

Never quite fitting the mould or conforming to any expectation, she remains a mystery in some respects.

Take the long view of Renée Houston – an entertainer who survived and whose career encompasses several eras of British entertainment.

Step out of the Irresistible Past 

As well as having a surprisingly rich Film Career, she’s an interesting conduit for discovery about Britain’s theatrical past.

One of few Scottish actors in Carry On films, she was famed for her unforgettable ‘battle-axe’ characters.

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.

                                                  

Distant voices . . . still lives

An immensely funny lady and a great entertainer in live performance, she toured indefatigably; her whole life devoted to 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. There was a lot of good in her.

I’ve written 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.

Miranda Brooke