One of the most beautiful and talented British actresses has left us on July 22 but her legacy lives on…right here in Nice.
Throughout her life, Natasha Parry held many titles. She was hailed as an exceptionally gifted actress. She was renowned for her stunning beauty, elegance, and glamor. She was called the most Russian of all British actresses, and the most British of all French actresses. She was the legendary Peter Brook’s wife of 64 years, and she was the loving mother to Irina Brook, the director of the Théâtre National de Nice, and Simon Brook, an accomplished director in his own right. A stroke a week ago claimed Ms. Parry’s life at age 84 when she quietly and peacefully passed away on July 22. Surrounded by her loved ones, “she smiled like a fairytale princess right up to the end,” as her daughter Irina shares.
Born in London in 1930 into a cosmopolitan family with a Russian mother and a half Greek father, and later having renowned filmmaker Gordon Parry as her stepfather, Natasha Parry married Peter Brook when she was a blossoming stage actress, barely 20 years old. It was to be a loving and enduring union during which she never complained of constantly being labeled “the wife of” – instead she pursued her own stage career and dazzled with her talent and grace. She would often play under her husband’s direction but work just as readily with other shining stars in the universe of theater and film, like Richard Attenborough, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith, or Marcello Mastroianni. Among her many career markers, King Lear (1953), Romeo and Juliet (1968), Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), La Cerisaie (1981), and Tchin Tchin (1984). As recently as 2014, she also starred in Le Gout des Myrtilles.
Having made France their home in the 1970s, Natasha Parry and Peter Brook raised their two children Irina and Simon here but also always kept a foot in Britain and the U.S. Both children followed in their artistic and successful parents’ footsteps. Irina Brook took over the Théâtre National de Nice as its director in 2014 and just finished her first season to great public praise. Simon Brook specializes mostly in short films and TV documentaries, among them the 2002 production Brook par Brook, an intimate portrait of his father’s work and his parents’ symbiotic love and work relationship.
Since Irina Brook had moved to Nice in 2014, Ms. Parry was a frequent visitor on the Mediterranean shores. Unforgotten the Saturday afternoon surprise event at the National Theater just this past February, when she, along with her husband and daughter, and world-renowned theater professor Kristin Linklater, gave a talk about Shakespeare. Her moving recital of two of the Bard’s sonnets made the entire public of 800 fall under her spell.
A great and distinguished life has come to its end but the memories of Natasha Parry’s excellent work as an actress will live on, as will her famed grace and beauty, so clearly visible in her daughter Irina and her granddaughter Maia. Our sincerest condolences go out to the entire Brook family, knowing they will all carry on their matriarch’s legacy in their own way.
Lead image via YouTube (Crow Hollow, 1952)