June Thorburn – a lovely actress

This beautiful actress was born in Kashmir India, where her father was a Colonel in the Indian Army.

She does seem to have been something of a tomboy – regularly in bother at school

June spent much of her childhood in boarding schools in India and some of them did not feed their pupils too well, so one of her tricks was to escape out of the window and eat berries

She was always thought of as having a mind of her own which was a creative mind to be fair, but she did get in trouble at school and maybe because of this she moved to a number of different schools in India.

She did not like Latin and so she forged a letter from her father saying that he thought Latin a dead language and he didn’t want his daughter taking it. It came to light that the letter had been forged but by that time it was too late for her to start in those classes – so she achieved what she set out to do.

She did however start writing plays and acting in them with her friends and family. She even took up skiing in the Himalayas and became very proficient winning competitions but all good things come to an end and the Indian Army was disbanded and she and her family came back to England and settled in Fleet in Hmapshire but at the age of 20 in 1951 she moved to London

She must have had a few jobs and one was working at Battersea Funfair selling programmes where she met and quickly married Aldon Richard Bryse- Harvey and shortly after that her acting career semed to kick off with a West End debut in Red Letter Day’ – so as regards the stage, she didn’t need a provincial role to get going – she went straight into London.

She then got a big break with an important part in ‘The Pickwick Papers’ released in 1952 where she played Arabella. During filming she had to fall into a pond and for whatever reason this had to be done six times to get it right – so she had to be dragged out of the pool and dried off for each ‘take’ – bearing in mind that she was six months pregnant at the time !

In May of 1953 her daughter was born.

Between 1953 and 1954 she appeared in a couple of episodes of ‘Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents’ after she had met Douglas – they became good friends thereafter.

Then came regular Television and Film roles – she did two with John Gregson which were typical British comedies of the time – first ‘True as a Turtle’ in beautiful Eastmancolour and a little later ‘Rooney’

In 1954 or 1955 she divorced Richard Bryse-Harvey

I have seen a snippet that says that she was in a Television play based on one of the Mazo de la Roche ‘Whiteoaks’ stories but I can’t find any reference to that at all. Jean Cadell topped the cast in a mid 50s adaptation for BBC Television of these stories but I can’t see that June Thorburn was involved. Perhaps someone will correct or inform me. I hope so.

Later in the decade she was in ‘Tom Thumb’ a pretty big International picture and she was good in that opposite Russ Tamblyn.

A similar one in which she appeared was ‘The Three Worlds of Gulliver’ which I well remember seeing at the cinema – in Super Dynamation and Technicolor

Another interesting film was ‘The Scarlet Blade’ with Jack Hedley, Oliver Reed and Lionel Jeffries – typical All-British Swashbuckler and in colour too

She always looked good in period films such as ‘Fury at Smugglers Bay’ with Peter Cushing – another similar one

With Peter Cushing

In 1959 she married again, this time to a Norwegian Morten Smith- Peterson – interesting that both her husbands had ‘double barrelled’ names.

She starred in ‘Don’t Bother to Knock’ a light comedy starring also Richard Todd who had staked a lot financially on this but it did not do at all well, even though it was well made, well directed and in Colour. Much of the filming was around Edinburgh and the coast up near there.

The Premier, for whatever reason, was in Sheffield at the then New ABC Cinema in May 1961

ABOVE – Richard Todd looks suitably pleased with himself as he accompanies June Thorburn – this must have been connected to the film ‘Don’t Bother to Knock’

Richard Todd said that there had been a screening in Cannes and there the audience appeared to like the film, as they did in Sheffield and at the London premier a little afterwards but the critics, for whatever reason didn’t like the film and gave it bad reviews. After that it did poor business and until recently seemed to have disappeared without trace, but it is now on DVD and has been on Talking Pictures.

On 24 May 1962 along with other stars she visited Battersea Fun Fair where she had worked before , then in September of the same year she was in a charity race at York Racecourse along with Liz Fraser and Rita Tushingham

In July 1963, she went to a garden Party in Ireland given by President Kennedy and Ireland’s President Eamonn de Valera on President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland.

In May 1964 her second daughter was born.

In 1966 she was back on the London West End stage in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ at the Garrick Theatre

Sadly on 4 November 1967 at the age of 36 she died in the Blackdown Hill air crash when a Caravelle Air Liner of Iberian Airways crashed into a hill on its landing approach. She was three months pregnant with what would have been her third child

Her husband and two daughters survived her

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