Broadway glamour brightens up Dunstable

Evelyn Laye (seen above with her husband, Frank Lawton) was a beautiful actress who was a star for many years on the West End stage and Broadway, gaining particular success in the 1920s and 30s.

Monday, 24th December 2012, 9:04 am

She lived in Dunstable for some time during the Second World War.

Miss Laye, born in 1900, starred in numerous musicals and operettas including Madame Pompadour and Lilac Time, and was in the original Broadway cast of Noel Coward’s Bitter Sweet.

Her first marriage was to the famous actor Sonnie Hale, but this dazzling partnership ended in a blaze of headlines when Sonnie left her for the singer and dancer Jessie Matthews in 1928.

She married Frank Lawton in 1934 and they remained together until his death in 1969. They starred alongside each other in numerous stage comedies.

When war broke out in 1939, Frank (who had just appeared in the successful film The Four Just Men) joined the army and was appointed an entertainments officer for Eastern Command, based at the Drill Hall in High Street North, Dunstable.

The hall, now demolished, stood near to what is now the site of the Tesco store and petrol station.

Evelyn moved from London to Dunstable to be near him, and took a flat above the shops in Houghton Parade, just a short distance from the drill hall.