Nora Kerin- A brief Biography

By Rachel Murrell


Nora Kerin (her real name) was born in London in 1881. Her mother Jane came from a large Jewish family of Dutch extraction. Her father Charles was Irish. Nora began acting in 1899. In a newspaper interview in 1912, she says she hadn't set out to be an actor. She claims she was spotted by the impresario of a London theatre where she was visiting a friend. However, it's hard to believe that she wasn't at least partially inspired by the success of her cousin Julia Neilson and Julia's sister-in-law Ellen Terry. Nora toured in the UK and Australia, but by 1905, she was appearing frequently at The Lyceum in London. That year she married a Jewish furniture dealer named Cyril Michael in 1905. Their two daughters were born within three years, but Nora didn't let this stop her acting. Between 1905 and 1908, she played the lead in The Midnight Wedding, Romeo & Juliet and The Prince & The Beggarmaid. After that, she appeared in two Walter/Frederick Melville productions at The Lyceum, culminating in the phenomenally successful Women of France in 1912. This ran for 126 performances, and Nora was on the front cover of The Playgoer and Society Illustrated magazine, and appeared in an advert for Helena Rubenstein make-up. But after that, the work tapered off and by the outbreak of WW1, Nora had all but retired. However, she continued to move in theatrical circles. Indeed, she would have had a hard time not doing so, since she was related not just to Julia Neilson and the Terry family, but to Lily and Hilda Hanbury, Desmond Walter-Ellis and many others. Her last known stage appearance was in a production of The Orphans in 1923, but she lived into her late 80s. She died in about 1968 - I'm still trying to establish when, and to find an obituary.



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