Leeds centenarian who styled the stars

Doris Braithwaite.
Doris Braithwaite.
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It’s not every day you can claim to have trimmed and styled the locks of some of the world’s finest actors.

But centenarian Doris Braithwaite from Leeds did just that.

Doris, who is celebrating her 100th birthday today, was a hairdresser during the Second World War, gracing the world-famous Stage Door Canteen, in London.

She rubbed shoulders with screen icons including Bing Crosby who officially opened the theatre which was used to entertain the troops during the war.

During that time she cut the hair of actors Rex Harrison - of Dr Dolittle fame - and Jimmy Edwards.

Doris became firm friends with actress Gracie Fields and was even invited to visit her at home in Capri during the seventies.

She said: “I have very good memories of the Stage Door Canteen.

“The boys came to dance and they felt better.

“I saw Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields and Bing Crosby.

“He was a very nice person.”

Doris, who used to have her own salon in Cross Green at just 21, also used to style the hair of pilots while she served in 615 Squadron.

She would often trim and style the hair of soldiers who had been injured during the conflict before their sweethearts came to visit them for the first time.

But Doris’ hairdressing career was brought to an abrupt end after she caught her hand on an ambulance door just weeks before the war ended.

She spent VE Day in hospital after recovering from surgery.

Doris, who lives at Cookridge Court Care Home, added: “I have always loved music and dancing and I used to dance for Mark Altman.

“I’m very proud to get to 100 but I don’t feel any different.”

Doris, who was born in 1912 - the year the famous Titanic sank, said she had seen many changes over the years.

She recalled the days she had to travel to school by wagonette because there were no cars on the streets of Leeds.

She added: “The biggest change is the price of fish and chips.

“I remember buying a tuppenny fish and a pennorth of chips.

“It’s a lot to remember but I remember that.”

Doris’ only daughter Lynne Hudson, who lives in Otley, said that she was close to her mother following the death of her father when she was just six-years-old.

She added: “It’s just a fantastic story when you think about it but I have grown up with these stories.

“Every Christmas we used to watch White Christmas with Bing Crosby and it is just hard to believe that she met him in the way all those years ago.

“It is just surreal.”

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