Sylvia Butterfield MBE, known professionally as Elizabeth Dawn or Liz Dawn, is one of the UK’s best-loved actresses, best known for her role as Vera Duckworth in the long-running British soap opera, Coronation Street. Dawn was awarded an MBE in October 2000 for her services to charity and for having helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds areas
Born on November 8, 1939, in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, Liz Down was the third of five children. Her real name is Sylvia Butterfield. She was educated at St Patrick’s School followed by Leeds City Girls School.
At the age of 18, Liz married her first husband at St Gregory’s Church. She gave birth to her son Graham in 1958 and the following year the couple divorced. Liz soon met electrician Donald Ibbertson and fell pregnant. The couple married in January 1965 and their first daughter Dawn Elizabeth was born in March. A second daughter, Ann-Marie was born in 1966 and another daughter, Julie, was born in 1968.
Elizabeth Dawn started her show business career as a nightclub singer. By the late 1960s, Dawn had ventured into acting, often taking small parts in television programs as well as advertisements. During the 1970s, she appeared in a variety of programs including All Creatures Great and Small and Colin Welland’s play Leeds United, as well as an early appearance in Crown Court as a non-speaking back ground artist.
Liz made her studio debut as Bedelia Conroy in Crown Court and was soon offered a bit part in Coronation Street as machinist Vera Duckworth. Other television work followed including The Greenhill Pals, Country Matters, Daft As A Brush and Kisses at Fifty. In the eighties, Vera became a regular character and Liz became a national institution. Liz also released a record and a video entitled Liz Dawn’s House Party.
In 1974 she took her most famous role as machinist Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street.
In January 1990, Dawn was featured on This Is Your Life. Dawn published her autobiography Vera Duckworth – My Story in 1993.
In 2000, Dawn was chosen as the Lady Mayoress of Leeds and was awarded an MBE in October of that year for her services to charity, having helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds areas.
On 12 October 2010, Dawn appeared in a wheelchair at the naming ceremony of the new Cunard cruise ship, MS Queen Elizabeth in Southampton.
She appeared at the 2011 British Soap Awards giving the Lifetime Achievement Award to former co-star, Bill Tarmey.
On 12 June 2014, Dawn was the subject of one of five celebrity specials of The Jeremy Kyle Show. She appeared on the show, talking about her career and health.
On 11 November 2015, it was announced that Dawn was to briefly come out of retirement and make a guest appearance in Emmerdale over Christmas 2015 as Mrs Winterbottom.
Real name: Sylvia Butterfield
Birth Date: 8 November 1939,
Birth Place: Leeds, Yorkshire
Parents: Annie and Albert Butterfield
Siblings: Albert, Maisie, Michael (died), Mary
Spouse(s): Don Ibbetson (January 1965 – present) (3 children) & Walter Bradley (26 December 1957 – 1959) (divorced) (1 child)
Children: Graham (b: 1958), Dawn Elizabeth (f: Donald Ibbertson), Ann-Marie (f: Donald Ibbertson), Julie (f: Donald Ibbertson)