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Ann Todd

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THE SEVENTH VEIL

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Actress

Date of birth:
24 January 1909
Hartford, Cheshire, England, UK

Spouse:
Victor Malcolm (divorced) 1 child
Nigel Tangye (1945 - 1949) (divorced) 1 child
David Lean (21 May 1949 - 1957) (divorced)

Date of death:
6 May 1993
London, England, UK. (stroke)

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Biography


Was Ann Todd made of ice? I mean, did someone create her, place her in a freezer, and when she thawed out it was found she was devoid of all emotions. Icy is the usual description of her, and to me at least she was as icy as icy gets. Don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of the body of acting work she has left behind, in particular her role in the film The Seventh Veil (1945), and can see why she, arguably, the most popular of British actor of her generation on the 1940s, but there is such a depth of coolness in her eyes that it makes me feel frozen just looking at her.

But perhaps it is that glacially coolness that so draws me to her films. I, like many, want to know more.

Born in 1909, she made her stage debut in 1928, which she closely followed by her first appearance in films with Keepers of Youth in 1931, the same year she also appeared in These Charming People, on which David Lean had briefly worked. Much stage and film work followed in the 1930s (among her films being Poison Pen and South Riding), although it wasn't until 1945 and in her mid-thirties, that she became a truly international star with the success of the aforementioned The Seventh Veil, which resulted in a trip to America to work on Hitchcock's The Paradine Case.

While making the film The Passionate Friends (1949), she began an affair with its director, David Lean. At the time, he was married to the actress Kay Walsh and she to Nigel Tangye, with whom she had a daughter, Ann Francesca. After divorcing Walsh, Lean made Todd his third wife on Saturday 21 May 1949.

After The Passionate Friends, Lean and Todd busied theselves looking for another project to make together. They eventually decided on the story of the notorious Madeleine Smith, a role which Todd had already tackled on the stage in a play by Harold Purcell titled The Rest Is Silence in 1944.

Smith, the daughter of a wealthy Glaswegian architect, came to public attention in 1857. Having being accused of poisoning her French lover, one Pierre Emile L'Angelier, with arsenic, she was brought to trial. However, the evidence was inconclusive and the case was 'not proven,' although it was considered by most that Smith had literally got away with murder.

When Madeleine was released in 1949, it was derided by both critics and audiences alike.

Their next film together was The Sound Barrier (1952). The film came from a newspaper article about a squadron leader, one JSR Muller-Rowland, who had been killed when his plane , which had allegedly passed though the sound barrier, broke up. Unlike Madeleine , the film was a great success and won three BAFTAs.

There was no role for Todd in Lean's next film Hobson's Choice (1953). In fact, the marriage was almost over. In 1954, she broke away to make the courtroom drama The Green Scarf. Lean meanwhile went on an extended vacation, taking in Egypt and India, and when he returned from India, he had fallen in love with the woman who would become his fourth wife, Leila Matkar.

Lean and Todd were divorced in 1957.

Thereafter, Todd's film output diminished. This was partly due to her producing and directing travel films and documentaries and she appeared from time to time on British TV.

She died of a stroke in 1993.

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