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