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Shearer, Moira (1926-2006)

Actor, Dancer

Main image of Shearer, Moira (1926-2006)

Few stars have so secure a grasp of popular esteem on the basis of so few films as red-haired Moira Shearer does. Michael Powell finally wore down the resistance of the prima ballerina to play Vicky Page in the famously successful ballet film, The Red Shoes (1948), of which she said in 1994 "there never was a ballet company anywhere which was like that" and thought Vicky's 'conflict' and its suicidal resolution was absurd.

However, it made her a film star, a role that never meant much to her, and she made two more appearances for Powell, with whom she had a difficult professional relationship: The Tales of Hoffman (1951), in which she danced three roles; and the notorious Peeping Tom (1960), in which she (replacing Natasha Parry) did a banal little dance for the film's murderer.

Her most attractive film work is as the variants on the 'Sylvia' character in The Man Who Loved Redheads (d. Harold French, 1954), in which she showed a feeling for comedy unglimpsed in her other films. She made one Hollywood film appearance, in an episode of The Story of Three Loves (d. Gottfried Reinhardt, 1952), but missed the lead in Hans Christian Andersen (d. Charles Vidor, 1952) by falling pregnant.

Married to author Sir Ludovic Kennedy from 1950, she has occasionally acted on stage but made no film since the French Black Tights (Les Collants noirs, d. Terence Young, 1960).

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Peeping Tom (1960)Peeping Tom (1960)

Notorious horror film which all but ended Michael Powell's career

Thumbnail image of Red Shoes, The (1948)Red Shoes, The (1948)

Powell and Pressburger's beautiful and delirious ballet film

Thumbnail image of Tales of Hoffmann, The (1951)Tales of Hoffmann, The (1951)

Visually ravishing Powell & Pressburger film of the Offenbach opera

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Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Kennedy, Sir Ludovic (1919-2009)Kennedy, Sir Ludovic (1919-2009)

Presenter, Writer, Director