Irish Thesp Helena Carroll Dies at 84

Irish Thesp Helena Carroll Dies 84

Helena Carroll, an Irish stage, television and film actress died at her home in Los Angeles on March 31. She was 84.

Carroll was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. She moved to the United States in the 1950s, touring and performing on Broadway.

Carroll was the youngest of three daughters of Irish dramatist Paul Vincent Carroll and dress designer Helena Reilly. She had split her stage work between Dublin, London and New York and was co-founded the Irish Players acting group in Gotham.

She appeared on Broadway in “Oliver!,” “Pickwick,” “Little Moon of Alban,” “Something Different,” “Design for Living,” “Waiting in the Wings” starring Lauren Bacall and both the Broadway and Los Angeles revivals of “Private Lives” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Carroll also appeared in films such as John Huston’s “The Dead,” “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” “The Jerk,” “The Mambo Kings,” “Rocky” and “Love Affair.” She also worked on numerous television shows and soaps including “General Hospital,” “Colombo” and “Murder She Wrote.”

Carroll’s last plays were “The Queen of Lenai” in Los Angeles in 2005 and “Philadelphia Here I Come” in Gotham in 2006.

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  1. Helena Reilly says:

    Thank you Malachy, thank you John Dayton!

    My Auntie Helena was the consumate actress. Even at the very end she pursed her lips for regular applications of red lip stick! Her passion was beautiful language written on the page, recited for the ear’s pleasure. We spent many a mad night, into the the wee hours of the morning, reciting beautiful words to each other, like characters from Tam O’Shanter!

    The nickname for Helena and her 2 sisters when they were kids was “The 3 Wonders!” “Them waines could answer cooncelers! ” How could they not? Grandfather was reading the Hound of Heaven to them in their cribs, but it was their Mammy who gave them that indomitable sense of humor that we all loved.

    I will miss her terribly, wart and all ….

    “When you are old and grey and full of sleep and nodding by the fire
    Take down this book and slowly read and dream of the soft look your eyes had once
    And of their shadows deep.

    How many loved your moments of glad grace
    And loved your beauty, with love false or true
    But there was once who loved the pilgrim soul in your
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

    And Bending down beside the glowing bars, murmur a little sadly
    How love fled, and paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid herself amid a crowd of stars.”
    William Butler Yeats

  2. A generous soul was Helena Carroll. She gave me my first job in theatre Off Bway in 1956. Took a chance on a guy who had never been on stage she did . A hearty laugher this girl a looney sense of humour and she never forgave her perceived enemies.Another good companion floating somewhere in the stratosphere . Auld lang syne
    my dear

    Malachy McCourt

  3. John Dayton says:

    Helena was a jewel. had the honor of producing “The Man Upstairs” in which she co-starred with Katharine Hepburn. How we laughed – wow – what a gift Helena had. So sad to lose an actress of this stature…as they say “They just don’t make them like that any more.”

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