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Sheridan, Dinah (1920-)


Main image of Sheridan, Dinah (1920-)

Best remembered for her role as long-suffering Wendy McKim in Genevieve (d. Henry Cornelius, 1953) - the quintessential English rose who takes second place in her husband's affections to his vintage roadster - Dinah Sheridan is an actress whose real life sacrifices hindered what could have been a successful international career.

Dinah Nadyejda Mec (pronounced 'Mess') chose her new surname from the directory to avoid giving critics an easy target. Sheridan made seven films prior to the outbreak of war, when she put her career on hold for three years to drive an ambulance. She subsequently established a level-headed, dependable screen persona, whether playing comic foil to George Formby in Get Cracking (d. Marcel Varnel, 1943), or co-starring with John Bentley in two Paul Temple films. However, by the time Genevieve arrived she still hadn't graduated to lead status (Claire Bloom was the producers' first choice). A surprise hit, Genevieve finally made Sheridan a star, but instead of capitalising on her new-found success she wedded Rank's managing director Sir John Davis, whose proposal was dependent on her giving up acting. Over 11 years of marriage Sheridan missed out on starring with Danny Kaye and Gregory Peck, among others.

Sheridan returned to work in 1967, essaying a series of alternately stern and twinkling matriarchs. Caring for her dialysis patient partner Jack Merivale meant further missed opportunities, and the film she nominated as her favourite, The Railway Children (d. Lionel Jeffries, 1970), proved to be her last. However, Sheridan enjoyed renewed success playing opposite Tony Britton in the long-running sitcom Don't Wait Up (BBC, 1983-90).

Richard Hewett

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