Kay Kendall

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British Actress
H E R   L I F E

    Kind of forgotten now but I have a theory about that...
    ~ Paul Page, 2019

I think that stars of British screen who died before Michael Parkinson's chat show appeared in the early 1970s are at a severe disadvantage to those that were interviewed by him and had the opportunity to talk about or even, sometimes, embellish their legacy. It was such a popular show, a must see, that through it people like David Niven and Peter Ustinov will live on forever whereas your Kay Kendalls and Eric Portmans are lost forever. We have to reclaim they for they were equally as good...more

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    Delightful, energetic redhead whose beauty, grace, and charm were matched only by her flawless comedy timing and bubbly screen persona.

Born into a family of show folk, she was a chorus girl at age 13, a music-hall performer at 16, and a motion-picture actress at 18 (beginning with 1944's Fiddlers Three).

She alternated film roles with stage work (her early screen credits include 1944's Champagne Charlie 1946's London Town 1950's Dance Hall 1951's Happy Go Lovely and 1952's Curtain Up making her first real impression as one of the competitive roadster racers in the hit British comedy Genevieve (1953).

Kendall brightened a number of English films over the next few years (especially 1954's Doctor in the House always leaving one with the impression that she deserved better material than she was getting. (Other credits include The Constant Husband and Fast and Loose of 1954 and Quentin Durward and Simon and Laura of 1955.) She made her American screen debut as one of the showgirls involved with Gene Kelly in Les Girls (1957), charming stateside audiences. She then costarred in The Reluctant Debutante (1958) with husband Rex Harrison (they would have made a wonderful British Nick and Nora Charles), and played Yul Brynner's wife in the mediocre Once More, With Feeling (1960), which, sadly, was her last film.

Kendall died of leukemia just before the picture's release, robbing the screen of a great talent.

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