Valerie Hobson was the daughter of a penniless British naval officer, who was also a chronic gambler, and her childhood was haunted by the threat of poverty, something which affected all her decisions in later life.
She appeared on the stage for the first time at the age of 16. While still in her teens, this beautiful and tall (5ft 6) brunette accepted a contract with Universal, where she starred in Bride of Frankenstein (as Henry Frankenstein's wife), Werewolf of London, The Great Impersonation and Chinatown Squad (all in 1935).
Disillusioned by Hollywood, she returned to Britiain where she was often cast in aristocratic roles enabling her to display her considerable charm and talent. Her films in this period included Drums, This Man Is News (both 1938), Q Planes and The Spy in Black with Conrad Veidt (both 1939).
Hobson hit her peak during the post-WW2 period with mature, carefully realized performances in Great Expectations (1946, as Estella), Blanche Fury (1947), Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Rocking Horse Winner (both 1949), The Promoter (1951), Tonight at 8:30 (1952), and Lovers, Happy Lovers (1954). But she developed a reputation for haughtiness. The blonde British sex symbol Christine Nordern, who co-starred with Hobson in the film The Interrupted Journey, considered her 'an unmitigated bitch'.
In 1939, she married the distinguished film producer and heir to a baronetcy Anthony (later Sir Anthony) Havelock-Allan and had two children. Her eldest son, Simon Anthony Clerveaux Havelock-Allan was born a Down's syndrome baby in May, 1944. This tradegy reduced Hobson to a 'zombie' state for an entire year, during which she hardly spoke.
Although the child became a resident patient at a Rudolf Steiner School for the handicapped, she continued to love him devotedly to the day in 1991 when he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 46.
Hobson and Havelock-Allan had a second son in 1951 (now His Honour Judge Sir Mark Havelock-Allan QC), but it came too late to save the marriage. The final blow might have been when she had once suspected her husband of being attracted to the actress Kay Kendall before Kendall became a star. One day, when at a viewing cinema to look at tests of Kendall with her husband, she rubbished everything about her, insisting she would never be a big movie star, and ended by saying: 'Forget it darling, her nose is too long.'
Later, Havelock-Allan admitted that he had not only had an affair with Kendall but had also paid for the nose-job that succeeded in making her a major movie star.
The couple divorced in 1952. Her final career highlight came as the star of the 1953 Drury Lane production of the musical The King And I.
She then married the now notorious figure of John Profumo (who died in March 2006) in 1954 and, at his insistence, retired from her acting career. Profumo belonged to an aristocratic Italian family whose fortune was immense (he is believed to have left around £20million when he died). The couple seemed happy at first, and had a son, the author David Profumo.
John Profumo was involved in a 1963 sex scandal that brought down Britain's Conservative Government once it was revealed he was having an affair with
call girl (Christine Keeler) who was also involved with a Soviet military attache. Hobson stood by her husband and was applauded for her loyalty. It is only recently, following the death of Profumo, that new evidence has come to light that at the time of the scandal, not only did she threaten to divorce Profumo, but proposed to her first husband, Havelock-Allan, saying that if he agreed to remarry her, she would leave her husband and divorce him. It was only after Havelock-Allan declined and pointed out to her that if she stayed with her husband people would think what a wonderful woman she was, that she agreed to stand by Profumo.
In her later years, she was devoted to her leprosy and mentally handicapped children charity work. Towards the end of her life she seemed to have tired of her last and longest role, as John Profumo's loyal wife. Shortly before she died, she told a close friend: 'I never really loved Jack. I married him as a safe haven for myself and my children.'
It was her first husband, it seemed, that she had always loved.
It seemed that she gave up the will to go on living. She was suffering from a serious heart condition when, in 1998, against medical advice, she suddenly chose to stop taking her medication.
Was it suicide? Perhaps, for soon afterwards, she collapsed with a heart attack on the steps leading to their Belgravia, London, home, and died in hospital.
She was 81.