EVELYN Laye, one obituary observed in 1996, was for decades a major figure in British musical theatre.

Born in 1900 to parents who were themselves touring actors, Laye made her stage debut at age 15. in Brighton, and her London debut three years later. She enjoyed a career as remarkable for its breadth as for its longevity: she was still working in the theatre at the age of 92.

In 1970, at the King’s, in Glasgow, she starred in the evergreen comedy, The Amorous Prawn. “It is 10 years since she played the part,” wrote our theatre critic, “but she still retains the panache of her previous appearance.”

During her stay in the city she helped publicise the launch of that year’s poppy appeal; she’s pictured selling the first poppy to the Lord Provost, Donald Liddle.

Noel Coward, no less, paid tribute to Laye’s performance in the Broadway opening of his musical play, Bitter Sweet, noting that her singing of a quick waltz song had occasioned “one of the most prolonged outbursts of cheering I have ever heard in a theatre”.

The obituary concluded: “The secret of Evelyn Laye’s triumphant career was the total dedication she gave to honing her talents to as near perfection as it was in her to achieve. She was adored by every company she ever led, but beneath the beauty, the charm and the glamour was an artist of deep seriousness and absolute commitment.”