Adrienne Corri

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Adrienne Corri
Adrienne Corri in a trailer for Vampire Circus (1972)
Born Adrienne Riccoboni
(1931-11-13) November 13, 1931 (age 90)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Actress
Years active 1949–1992
Spouse(s) Derek Fowlds (?-?)
Daniel Massey (1961-1967)

Adrienne Corri (born 13 November 1931)[1] is a British actress.

Early life

She was born Adrienne Riccoboni in Glasgow, the daughter of Olive Smethurst and an Italian father Luigi Riccoboni (sometimes spelt Reccobini). Her distinctive auburn hair came from her mother's Lancastrian Mancunian Smethurst family. In the 1930s her father Luigi (known as Louis) ran the Crown Hotel, Callander, Perthshire. She had one brother.


Despite having significant roles in many films, Corri is most notable for one of her smaller parts, that of Mrs. Alexander, the wife of the writer Frank Alexander, in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 dystopian film A Clockwork Orange. Though not originally cast in this role, she was brought in after the first actress, reported to be Bernadette Milnes, left the film. Corri was offered the role after two actresses had already withdrawn from the film, one of them, according to Malcolm McDowell (Alex in the film), because she found it "too humiliating -– because it involved having to be perched, naked, on Warren Clarke's (playing Dim the Droog) shoulders for weeks on end while Stanley decided which shot he liked the best." Corri had no such qualms about appearing naked, joking to McDowell, "Well Malcolm, you’re about to find out that I’m a real redhead."[2]

Corri has appeared in many films, notably as Valerie in Jean Renoir's movie The River (1951), as Lara's mother in David Lean's Dr. Zhivago (1965), and in the Otto Preminger thriller Bunny Lake is Missing. She also appeared in a number of horror and suspense films from the 1950s until the 1970s including Devil Girl from Mars, The Tell-Tale Heart, A Study in Terror and Vampire Circus. She also appeared as Therese Duval in Revenge of the Pink Panther. The range and versatility of her acting is shown by appearances in such diverse productions as the 1969 science fiction movie Moon Zero Two where she played opposite the ever dependable character actor Sam Kydd (Len the barman), and again in 1969, in Twelfth Night, directed by John Sichel, as the Countess Olivia, where she played opposite Alec Guinness (Malvolio).

Her television credits include Angelica in Sword of Freedom (1958), Yolanda in The Invisible Man episode "Crisis in the Desert", a regular role in A Family at War and You're Only Young Twice, a 1971 television play by Jack Trevor Story, as Mena in the Doctor Who story "The Leisure Hive" and guest starred as the mariticidal Liz Newton in the UFO episode "The Square Triangle". She also was in two episodes of "Danger Man," the first being the well-known surreal "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove," (1965) as assistant to Mr. Alexander, Elaine, as well as "Whatever Happened To George Foster," (1965) in which she played Pauline, a journalist acquaintance of "John Drake." She was equally at home in the classics of British theater, giving an outstanding performance as Lady Fidget in the BBC play of the month, Wycherley's Restoration comedy The Country Wife.

She has had a major stage career, appearing regularly both in London and in the provincial theatres. In the heady days of the 1968, she appeared in one of the first English performances of Come and Go, Samuel Beckett's one act 'dramaticule', in Beckett's coinage, put on at the Royal Festival Hall as part of "a gala entertainment concerning depravity and corruption" (the words coming from the nineteenth-century definition of obscenity), sponsored by The National Council for Civil Liberties and The Defence of Literature and the Arts Society, which raised funds to support publishers being prosecuted for obscenity. It was directed by Deryk Mendel, with Adrienne Corri appearing alongside Marie Kean and Billie Whitelaw in the roles of Flo, Vi, and Ru.[3] The evening included both classical and rock music, and a mixed programme compèred by George Melly. In his entry for Clifford Anthony Smythe in the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Calder records that "The profit was much less than expected for a sold-out house, as the person who had volunteered to organize the souvenir programme spent too little time finding advertisers as against providing editorial content."[4]

Personality and friendships

Known for her feisty character, various stories are recounted, such as that when the audience booed on the first night of John Osborne's The World of Paul Slickey, Corri responded with her own abuse: she raised two fingers to the audience and shouted "Go fuck yourselves".[5] During the making of Moon Zero Two, she poured a glass of iced water inside James Olson's rubber space suit, in which uncomfortable state he was obliged to wear it for the remained of the day's shooting.[6]

She was acquainted with many of the leading figures in the British theatre, including Joe Orton, and he recounts in his diaries how he asked her advice on how best to end his relationship with his lover Kenneth Halliwell.[7] She enjoyed a good relationship with Stanley Kubrick, who joked with her that in the surprise visit sequence in A Clockwork Orange in which she was cast in "the Debbie Reynolds part", a reference to the actress who was cast opposite Gene Kelly in the 1952 film, 'Singin in the Rain'.[8] After finishing filming A Clockwork Orange, she kept in touch with Kubrick, who complained to her about the problem he had of losing socks whenever he did the washing, so for Christmas she gave him a pair of bright red socks, a wry comment on his domestic concerns and simultaneously a humorous reference to her now famous scene in A Clockwork Orange, where after Alex had finished snipping off her red pyjama suit, she was naked except for a pair of red socks.[9]

Gainsborough studies

She is the author of The Search for Gainsborough, a book written in diary form, detailing her efforts to establish the provenance of a painting of David Garrick that she believes to be by a young Thomas Gainsborough. She also wrote a scholarly article in The Burlington Magazine about the portrait and its connection to Gainsborough's very early work, Self Portrait as a Boy c.1739, (the latter can be seen online at the Historical Portraits Image Library [10]).[11] The book displays her wit and erudition, and her feisty character shines through the pages, as well as providing the reader with a fund of anecdotes regarding the actress herself.[12] Corri's researches and her article are discussed in "Tom will be a genius - new landscapes by the young Thomas Gainsborough", the catalogue of an exhibition at Philip Mould Ltd, 4–28 July 2009, with text by Linsay Stainton and Bendor Grosvenor.[13] Corri's claim that the painting was by the young Gainsborough was based on her detailed researches in the archives of the Bank of England, which indicated that significant financial payments were made to Gainsborough while he was still a boy. Following a claim by Corri for the expense incurred restoring and authenticating the picture, the painting was given to her in May 1990, in an out of court of settlement by the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, who disputed her valuation and the attribution to Gainsborough.[14]


Corri has married and divorced twice, to the actors Daniel Massey (1961–1967) and Derek Fowlds. The marriage to Massey proved to be somewhat tempestuous, with Massey describing the relationship in the following terms, "We were agonizingly incompatible but we had an extraordinary physical attraction."[15]



  1. Adrienne Corri roles and actor credis list; Aveleyman website
  2. "The chief Droog talks A Clockwork Orange, Caligula and Rob Zombie". Bizarre. Retrieved 13 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. C.J. Ackerley and S.E. Gontarski (2004). The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett: A Reader's Guide to His Works, Life, and Thought. Grove Press. p. 608. ISBN 0802140491.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Calder, John. "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Smythe, Clifford Anthony". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Billington, Michael (19 August 2008). "Sounding Off". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Hallenbeck, Bruce. "Adrienne Corri Interview". Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Lahr, John (2002). Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. p. 320. ISBN 0747560145.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Hallenbeck, Bruce. "Adrienne Corri Interview". Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Baxter, John (1998). Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. HarperCollins. ISBN 0006384455.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Mould, Philip. "Historical Portraits Image Library". Self Portrait as a Boy c.1739. Retrieved 12 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Corri, Adrienne (April 1983). "Gainsborough's Early Career: New Documents and Two Portraits". The Burlington Magazine (125): 210–216.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Corri, Adrienne (1986). The Search for Gainsborough. Vanguard Press. p. 281. ISBN 081490906X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Lindsay Stainton and Bendor Grosvenor (2009). Tom will be a genius. Philip Mould Ltd. p. 50.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Heraldscotland, Heraldscotland. "Actress settles theatre art row". Retrieved 21 June 2015. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Vallance, Tom (28 March 1998). "Obituary: Daniel Massey". The Independent. London. Retrieved 13 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links