Evelyn Laye Evelyn Laye, OBE (July 10, 1900 - February 17, 1996) was a British theatre actress. Born Elsie Evelyn Lay in Bloomsbury, London, England, Laye made her first stage appearance in 1915, and for the first few years of her career played mainly in musical comedy. Among her successes during the 1920s were Madame Pompadour, The Dollar Princess and Lilac Time. She made her Broadway debut in 1929 in Noel Coward's Bitter Sweet.
Married to the actor Sonnie Hale in 1926, Laye received widespread public sympathy when Hale left her for the actress Jessie Matthews in 1930. She continued acting in such productions as The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
She acted several times opposite her second husband, the actor Frank Lawton. Her other stage successes included Silver Wedding (1957) with Lawton, and The Amorous Prawn (1959) and Phil the Fluter (1969).
Awarded an OBE in 1973, Laye continued acting well into her nineties. It was reported after Laye's death that the Elizabeth, the Queen Mother had planned to try to get her knighted (created a DBE) even though Laye was already in her 90s.
Her acting career ranks as one of the longest in British theatre. During a tribute in 1992 at the London Palladium the actor Sir John Mills described her as "the fairest prima donna this side of heaven".
She died in London, UK from respiratory failure at the age of 95.