Eileen Essell: Remembering The Late English Actress

Eileen Essell

Eileen Essell was a British stage, movie, and television actress who couldn’t begin her career until the age of 79. Essell started her acting career in stage productions where she worked for over a decade before she got married and took a long hiatus from the industry. By the time she resurfaced on the stage again, Eileen was already an aged lady about to become an octogenarian. Her comeback stage role was what gave her inroad into her first onscreen career and she ended up recording 29 acting roles in both movies and television series.

Profile summary of Eileen Essell
  • Name: Eileen Joan Smith
  • Date of birth: October 8, 1922
  • Date of death: February 15, 2015
  • Place of birth: London in the United Kingdom
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: Actress
  • Years active: 2001 to 2012

Eileen Essell was born in 1922

Of British ancestry, Eileen Essell was born Eileen Joan Smith on 8th October 1922, in London in the United Kingdom. Apart from her birth details, nothing else is known about the late actress’ early life and family background. It is also not known if she was an only child or had siblings growing up.

Eileen is one Hollywood actress who enjoyed longevity. The stage, movie, and TV actress attained the age of a nonagenarian before her death which occurred on February 15, 2015. She was 92 at the time of her demise.

Eileen Essell was a movie, TV, and stage actress

Eileen Essell went down in history as one of the oldest movie débutantes of all time. She commenced her acting career immediately after graduating from the university but only played stage roles in theatre productions at the time. When she hit her early thirties, the actress married playwright and actor Gerard McLarnon following which she left acting to raise her son.

While her marriage lasted, the former stage actress found work in the education sector as a teacher, working at the City University and the Central School of Music and Drama. However, when she became widowed in 1998 and her son was all grown up, Eileen found her way back to the stage, thanks to the counsel of a family friend who produced the play that marked her comeback.

Unknown to Essell, an agent was watching her every move in the audience and later asked to represent her. That was how the agent got her a gig in a TV series that made her a Hollywood actress with 29 acting credits to her name. Eileen Essel was almost in her eighties by the time she debuted on the screen.

She began her screen acting career in television series

The first time Eileen Essell was seen on the screen was in 2001 when the actress showed up in two episodes of London’s Burning as Judith Schuster. She then went on to record a spate of single episodes in 2003 television shows such as Holby City as Anne Ludlow, Strange as Miss Otterman, and Canterbury Tales as Mrs. Jean Smallwood.

The next time Eileen Essell surfaced on the small screen was in 2004, recording cameos in four episodes of French and Saunders and followed it up with one episode of Hustle in 2005. In 2006, she recorded single episodes in productions like Feel the Force, Casualty, Ideal, as well as Fear, Stress, and Anger.

She continued the trend in 2007, recording one-episode appearances in City Life, Sensitive Skin, and DOC Martin. In 2008, Eileen Essell was featured in Torchwood, clone, Heartbeat, and Secret Diary of a Call Girl, recording one episode in each production. After she appeared in one episode of Demons in 2009, Essell appeared in two episodes of Doctors from 2000 to 2009. She recorded another two episodes in The Bill between 2001 and 2009, and in 2010, she appeared in single episodes on the sets of Life of Riley and Law & Order: UK. Her last television project was in 2011 in one episode of Land Girls.

Eileen Essell only recorded a handful of movie roles

Eileen Essell

Eileen Essell’s movie roles are not as many as her television roles. The elderly actress made her movie debut in 2002 on the set of Ali G Indahouse as Mrs. Hugh, she was the Mrs. Connelly we saw in the 2003 film, Duplex, and played the role of Mrs. Snow
In Finding Neverland (2004). Eileen had two movie credits in 2005 – she was part of the cast of The Producers and was also featured in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Her last movie appearance was in 2005 in the short film, Remnants as Old Lady.

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Eileen Essell’s movies and TV shows


  • Ali G Indahouse as Mrs. Hugh – 2002
  • Duplex as Mrs. Connelly – 2003
  • Finding Neverland as Mrs. Snow – 2004
  • The Producers as Hold Me-Touch Me – 2005
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Grandma Josephine – 2005
  • Remnants as Old Lady – 2012

TV series

  • London’s Burning as Judith Schuster 2001
  • Holby City as Anne Ludlow – 2003
  • Canterbury Tales as Mrs Jean Smallwood – 2003
  • Strange as Miss Otterman 2003
  • French and Saunders – 2004
  • Hustle as Mary – 2005
  • Fear, Stress, and Anger as Gran 2006
  • Feel the Force Mrs. Hill – 2006
  • Ideal as Mrs. Coneybear – 2006
  • Casualty as Florence Chapman 2006
  • Doc Martin as Mrs. Averill – 2007
  • Sensitive Skin as Mother – 2007
  • City Lights as Little Old Lady – 2007
  • Heartbeat as Mrs. Elsie Gray – 2008
  • Secret Diary of a Call Girl as Aunt Blossom – 2008
  • Torchwood as Christina – 2008
  • Clone as Old Woman – 2008
  • Doctors as Dee Bradley 2000 to 2009
  • Demons as Ethel – 2009
  • Law & Order: UK as Maria Golofsky 2010
  • Life of Riley as Mary 2010
  • The Bill as Mrs. Wilberforce – 2001 to 2009
  • Land Girls as Miss Gwen Ganderton – 2011

Eileen Essell was married twice

Eileen Essell walked down the aisle a couple of times in her lifetime. Her first husband was John McCormick whom she married in 1948. However, no one knows when their union ended. Eileen found love again in the arms of Gerard McLarnon. They exchanged vows in 1958 and their union ended upon his death in 1997. The couple shared one child, Fergus McLarnon.

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