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Baddeley, Hermione (1906-86)


Main image of Baddeley, Hermione (1906-86)

In a more than 60-year career, Hermione Baddeley (born Hermione Clinton-Baddeley in Broseley, Salop, on 13 November 1906), the youngest of the four Baddeley sisters, enjoyed success in all the acting media. She was on stage from 1918, and prior to World War II she became popular in London stage comedies and revues, drawing on her dancer's training as well as her innate comic flair, several times appearing memorably with the other Hermione - Gingold.

Too idiosyncratic in appearance and style for conventional prewar heroines, postwar she came into her own in films when she repeated her stage success as the blowzy, good-hearted Ida in the Boulting brothers' film of Brighton Rock (1947). She played memorable character roles, including assorted mums and slatterns, until she died. Even in 'B' movies such as Rag Doll (d. Lance Comfort, 1960, as a motherly fortune-teller), she was effortlessly authoritative.

She received an Oscar nomination for her eloquent study of Simone Signoret's perceptive and acid-tongued friend in Room at the Top (d. Jack Clayton, 1958), and scored successes on Broadway in the early '60s, when she was signed by Walt Disney for the maid in Mary Poppins (US, d. Robert Stevenson, 1964). The rest of her career was almost entirely spent in US films and TV, where she became a household favourite for her role as fractious cockney cook in the long-running '70s series Maude.

Her two marriages failed, and she had a long relationship with actor Laurence Harvey, with whom she first appeared in There is Another Sun (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1951).

Baddeley, Hermione, The Unsinkable Hermione Baddeley (1984).

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Anarchic comedy based on Ronald Searle's popular cartoons

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Graham Greene thriller with Richard Attenborough as a vicious gangster

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The first British X film: a controversial study of juvenile delinquency

Thumbnail image of Expresso Bongo (1959)Expresso Bongo (1959)

Cliff Richard comedy about the discovery of a new musical star

Thumbnail image of It Always Rains On Sunday (1947)It Always Rains On Sunday (1947)

Robert Hamer's bleak portrait of life in London's East End

Thumbnail image of Passport to Pimlico (1949)Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Cherished comedy in which a Pimlico street declares its independence

Thumbnail image of Room at the Top (1958)Room at the Top (1958)

The first 'kitchen sink' drama kick-started a British film revolution

Thumbnail image of Scrooge (1951)Scrooge (1951)

Alastair Sim's definitive portrayal of Charles Dickens' curmudgeon

Thumbnail image of Song of Paris (1952)Song of Paris (1952)

Comedy about a French cabaret star falling for a passing Englishman

Thumbnail image of Age of Kings, An (1960)Age of Kings, An (1960)

Ambitious history of medieval British royalty, adapted from Shakespeare

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