Margaret Lockwood, CBE (15 September 1916 – 15 July 1990) was an English actress who was a film star in the 1930s and 1940s.
Margaret Mary Day Lockwood was born on 15 September 1916 in Karachi, British India, to Henry Francis Lockwood, an English administrator of a railway company, and his Scottish third wife Margaret Eveline Waugh. She returned to England in 1920 with her mother, brother 'Lyn' and half-brother Frank, and a further half-sister 'Fay' joined them the following year, but her father remained in Karachi, visiting them infrequently. She also had another half-brother, John, from her father's first marriage, brought up by his mother in England. Lockwood attended Sydenham High School for girls, and a ladies' school in Kensington, London.
She began studying for the stage at an early age at the Italia Conti, and made her debut in 1928, at the age of 12, at the Holborn Empire where she played a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In December of the following year, she appeared at the Scala Theatre in the pantomime The Babes in the Wood. In 1932 she appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Cavalcade.
In 1933, Lockwood enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she was seen by a talent scout and signed to a contract. In June 1934 she played Myrtle in House on Fire at the Queen's Theatre, and on 22 August 1934 appeared as Margaret Hamilton in Gertrude Jenning's play Family Affairs when it premiered at the Ambassadors Theatre; Helene Ferber in Repayment at the Arts Theatre in January 1936; Trixie Drew in Henry Bernard's play Miss Smith at the Duke of York's Theatre in July 1936; and back at the Queen's in July 1937 as Ann Harlow in Ann's Lapse.
Lockwood entered films in 1934, and in 1935 she appeared in the film version of Lorna Doone. Her profile rose when she appeared opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Beloved Vagabond (1936)
Gaumont British were making a film version of the novel Doctor Syn, starring George Arliss and Anna Lee. Lee dropped out and was replaced by Lockwood. Lockwood so impressed the studio with her performance she signed a three-year contract with Gainsborough Pictures in June 1937.
She then went on to make Owd Bob before being given the lead in Bank Holiday, directed by Carol Reed. This movie was a hit and launched Lockwood as a star. Even more popular was her next movie, The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and co-starring Michael Redgrave. Hitchcock was greatly impressed by Lockwood, telling the press:
She has an undoubted gift in expressing her beauty in terms of emotion, which is exceptionally well suited to the camera. Allied to this is the fact that she photographs more than normally easily, and has an extraordinary insight to get the feel of her lines, to live within them, so to speak, as long as the duration of the picture lasts. It is not too much to expect that in Margaret Lockwood the British picture industry has a possibility of developing a star of hitherto un-anticipated possibilities.
She followed this with A Girl Must Live, a musical comedy for Carol Reed.
Lockwood then accepted an offer to work in the US for 20th Century Fox, supporting Shirley Temple in Susannah of the Mounties. She was borrowed by Paramount for Rulers of the Sea. Paramount indicated a desire to use her in more films but she returned home in June 1939.
Return to Britain
Lockwood returned to Britain. She was meant to make film versions of Rob Roy and The Blue Lagoon but both were cancelled with the advent of war. In 1940 she played the role of Jenny Sunley, the self-centred, frivolous wife of Redgrave's character in The Stars Look Down.
Gainsborough and Rank
In the early 1940s Lockwood changed her on-screen image to play a villainesses The Man in Grey (1943). The film was a massive hit and changed Lockwood's image. Her most successful film was The Wicked Lady (1945), in which Lockwood had the title role. . In 1946 Lockwood gained the Daily Mail National Film Awards First Prize for most popular British film actress.
In July 1946 Lockwood signed a six-year contract with Rank to make two movies a year. She appeared in Jassy (1947), which her popularity helped turn into a major hit. In 1947 she refused to appear in Roses for Her Pillow (which became Once Upon a Dream) and was put on suspension.
After making Madness of the Heart (1949) she returned to the stage in a record-breaking national tour of Noël Coward's Private Lives in 1949, and also played Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Edinburgh Festival of 1951, and the title role in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in 1949, 1950 and 1957 (the last with her daughter Julia Lockwood as Wendy).
She returned to filmmaking after an 18-month absence to star in Highly Dangerous (1950), a comic thriller in the vein of Lady Vanishes written expressly for her by Eric Ambler. It was not popular and Lockwood soon ended her contract with the Rank organisation.
In 1952 she signed a two picture a year contract with Herbert Wilcox at $112,000 a year, making her the best paid actress in British films. She made three films with Wilcox, the first of which was successful, but the next two were disappointments.
As her popularity waned in the 1950s, she returned to occasional performances on the West End stage and appeared on television. Her subsequent long-running West End hits include an all-star production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965–66, in which she played the villainous Mrs Cheveley), W. Somerset Maugham's Lady Frederick (1970), Relative Values (Noël Coward revival, 1973) and the thrillers Spider's Web (1955, written for her by Agatha Christie), Signpost to Murder (1962) and Double Edge (1975).
In 1969 she starred as barrister Julia Stanford in the TV play Justice is a Woman. This inspired the Yorkshire Television series Justice, which ran for three seasons (39 episodes) from 1971 to 1974, and featured her real-life partner, John Stone, as fictional boyfriend Dr Ian Moody. Lockwood's role as the feisty Harriet Peterson won her Best Actress Awards from the TV Times (1971) and The Sun (1973). In 1975 film director Bryan Forbes persuaded her out of an apparent retirement from feature films to play the role of the Stepmother in what would be her last feature film, The Slipper and the Rose. This film also included final feature film appearances by Kenneth More and Edith Evans. Her last professional appearance was as Queen Alexandra in Royce Ryton's stage play Motherdear (Ambassadors Theatre, 1980).
Margaret Lockwood was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours of 1981.
She was the subject of This Is Your Life in December 1963. She was a guest on the British Broadcasting Corporation's radio show Desert Island Discs on 25 April 1951.
She married Rupert Leon in 1937 (divorced in 1950).
She lived her final years in seclusion in Kingston upon Thames, dying at the Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London from cirrhosis of the liver in her 74th year. Her body was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium.
She was survived by her daughter, the actress Julia Lockwood (née Margaret Julia Leon, born 1941).
|1934||Lorna Doone||Annie Ridd||Basil Dean|
|1935||The Case of Gabriel Perry||Mildred Perry||Albert de Courville|
|Honours Easy||Ann||Herbert Brenon|
|Man of the Moment||Vera||Monty Banks|
|Midshipman Easy||Donna Agnes||Carol Reed|
|1936||Jury's Evidence||Betty Stanton||Ralph Ince|
|The Amateur Gentleman||Georgina Huntstanton||Thornton Freeland|
|The Beloved Vagabond||Blanquette||Curtis Bernhardt|
|Irish for Luck||Ellen O'Hare||Arthur B. Woods|
|1937||The Street Singer||Jenny Green||Jean de Marguenat|
|Who's Your Lady Friend?||Mimi||Carol Reed|
|Doctor Syn||Imogene Clegg||Roy William Neill|
|Melody and Romance||Margaret Williams||Maurice Elvey|
|1938||Owd Bob||Jeannie McAdam||Robert Stevenson||To the Victor|
|Bank Holiday||Catherine Lawrence||Carol Reed||Three on a Weekend|
|The Lady Vanishes||Iris Henderson||Alfred Hitchcock|
|1939||Susannah of the Mounties||Vicky Standing||Walter Lang, William A. Seiter|
|A Girl Must Live||Leslie James||Carol Reed|
|Rulers of the Sea||Mary Shaw||Frank Lloyd|
|1940||The Stars Look Down||Jenny Sunley||Carol Reed|
|Girl in the News||Anne Graham||Carol Reed|
|Night Train to Munich||Anna Bomasch||Carol Reed|
|1941||Quiet Wedding||Janet Royd||Anthony Asquith|
|1942||Alibi||Helene Ardouin||Brian Desmond Hurst|
|1943||The Man in Grey||Hesther Shaw||Leslie Arliss|
|Dear Octopus||Penny Randolph||Harold French|
|1944||Give Us the Moon||Nina||Val Guest|
|Love Story||Lissa Campbell||Leslie Arliss||A Lady Surrenders|
|1945||A Place of One's Own||Annette||Bernard Knowles|
|I'll Be Your Sweetheart||Edie Story||Val Guest|
|The Wicked Lady||Barbara Worth||Leslie Arliss|
|1946||Bedelia||Bedelia Carrington||Lance Comfort|
|1947||Hungry Hill||Fanny Rosa||Brian Desmond Hurst|
|Jassy||Jassy Woodroofe||Bernard Knowles|
|The White Unicorn||Lucy||Bernard Knowles||Bad Sister|
|1948||Pygmalion||Eliza Doolittle||Television film|
|Look Before You Love||Ann Markham||Harold Huth|
|1949||Cardboard Cavalier||Nell Gwynne||Walter Forde|
|Madness of the Heart||Lydia Garth||Charles Bennett|
|1950||Highly Dangerous||Frances Gray||Roy Ward Baker|
|1952||Trent's Last Case||Margaret Manderson||Herbert Wilcox|
|1953||Captain Brassbound's Conversion||Lady Cicely Wayneflete||Dennis Vance||Television film|
|Laughing Anne||Laughing Anne||Herbert Wilcox|
|1954||Trouble in the Glen||Marissa Mengues||Herbert Wilcox|
|1955||Spider's Web||Clarissa Hailsham-Brown||Wallace Douglas||Television film|
|Cast a Dark Shadow||Freda Jeffries||Lewis Gilbert|
|1956||Murder Mistaken||Freda Jeffries||Campbell Logan||Television film|
|Call It a Day||Dorothy Hilton||Hal Burton||Television film|
|1976||The Slipper and the Rose||Stepmother||Bryan Forbes|
|1983||The Man in Gray||Hesther Shaw||Leslie Arliss|
- adaptation of Rob Roy (1939) with Will Fyffe and Michael Redgrave
- adaptation of The Blue Lagoon (1939) with Richard Greene
- The Reluctant Widow – announced 1946
- Mary Magdelene written by Clemence Dane – Lockwood said she was "really looking forward" to making the film in 1947.
- Trial for Murder (1940s) - proposed Hollywood film from Mark Robson
- NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Louise Campbell Coming to See Play in Which She Will Have Film Role--3 Openings Here Today Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Feb 1939: 26.
- BUSY DAYS IN LONDON: Film Studios Move Into High Gear, With Full Schedule of Pictures Under Way Films Coming Up In Father's Footsteps Notes in Brief By C.A. LEJEUNE, The New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 Aug 1946: 51.
- British Film Star Irked by Censors: 'Silly,' Says Margaret Lockwood in Trans-Atlantic Phone Chat Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Mar 1947: B1.
- Bennett Framing Offer to Margaret Lockwood; Cowboy Star Horseless Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Aug 1948: A7.
- Family Affairs by Gertrude Jennings (1934)
- LONDON THEATRES: "Family Affairs" OUR LONDON DRAMATIC CRITIC. The Scotsman (1921–1950) [Edinburgh, Scotland] 23 Aug 1934: 8
- 1946 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Most Outstanding British actress during the war years
- 1947 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Best Film Actress of the year
- 1948 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Best Film Actress of the year in Jassy
- 1955 – BAFTA nomination for Best British Actress in Cast a Dark Shadow
Various polls of exhibitors consistently listed Lockwood among the most popular stars of her era:
- 1943 – 7th most popular British star in Britain
- 1944 – 6th most popular British star in Britain
- 1945 – 3rd most popular British star in Britain (Phyllis Calvert was 5th)
- 1946 – 10th most popular star in Australia, 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain
- 1947 – 4th most popular star and 3rd most popular British star in Britain
- 1948 – 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain, most popular female star in Canada
- 1949 – 5th most popular British star in Britain