b. Florence Elizabeth Dawson, 31 May 1905, London, England, d. 16 January 1993, Guildford, Surrey, England. The sister of Fred Desmond, a knockabout music hall comedian, Florence played many stage and screen roles, usually in light comedies, musicals and revues. She had a special gift for impersonation and would play multiple roles in some productions. One of impresario Charles B. Cochrane’s ‘girls’ she was in several of his productions including two written by Noël Coward, On With The Dance (1925) and This Year Of Grace! (1928), the latter on Broadway with Coward. Desmond played cabaret in London, was on radio, and toured variety theatres in the UK, in the latter case heading her own show, Taking Off. She appeared also in 1937’s Royal Variety Performance.
Desmond’s first film appearance was in The Road To Fortune (1930) and during the rest of the decade she appeared regularly: Sally In Our Alley (1931), The River House Ghost, Nine Till Six, My Lucky Star, Murder On The Second Floor, The Marriage Bond, Impromptu, High Society (all 1932), Radio Parade, Long Live The King, Mr. Skitch, I Am Suzanne (all 1933), the last an uncredited soundtrack appearance, Gay Love (1934), No Limit, Keep Your Seats, Please, Accused (all 1936), and Kicking The Moon Around (1938). In the years of World War II, Desmond appeared in the film, Hoots Mon! (1940), played in London in Applesauce! (which starred Max Miller and also included the ‘Forces Sweetheart’, singer Vera Lynn), and she was also working with ENSA touring army camps. Still active in the 50s, Desmond appeared in the film Three Came Home (1950), was at the 1951 Royal Variety Performance and was in Apples Of Eve (1952), a play in which she demonstrated that her gift for multiple role playing was unimpaired. Desmond retired in 1953 but before the decade was out she came back with a film role in Charley Moon (1956), returned to the West End in Auntie Mame (1958, which starred Beatrice Lillie), and made her final screen appearance in Some Girls Do (1969).