There's a mystique to dying young. Those who do so are always surrounded by an aura of glamour and a sense of the wonders they would have achieved if only they had been spared. This is particularly true of film stars. They may have left this earth but their image remains: beautiful and youthful, a never-ageing reminder of what might have been. Kay Kendall died young.
She hasn't become the same sort of cult figure that say Dean or Monroe became, but then she was far too sensible for that sort of nonsense. Her screen persona was a curious mixture of fifties poise and glamour and a throw-back to thirties screwball heroines. She was a proper grown-up with a sense of mischief.
Born in a showbiz family, she was dancing in the chorus at the Palladium by the time she was 12. She got a few bit parts and then got a big role in a major event movie, London Town. Unfortunately this expensive debut film for comedian Sid Field was one of the biggest flops in British cinema history. After this it was back to rep and bit parts for a few years.
Her performance in It Started In Paradise got her a contract at Rank, and her first film there was the mega-hit Genevieve. After a teeny part in another mega-hit Doctor in the House she became one of Rex Harrison's wives in the bigamy comedy The Constant Husband. There then followed a dispute about the quality of scripts offered to her by Rank and her contract was suspended.
MGM came to the rescue with The Adventures of Quentin Durward. Simon and Laura was a decent enough comedy at Rank, and then it was back to MGM for the mediocre musical Les Girls. The critics weren't keen on it, but they loved her. She was at the height of her fame, but she had leukaemia.
She married Rex Harrison and tried to keep working but it was difficult and Rank had started to sue for breach of contract when she passed on.
She left behind a memory of a truly beautiful person.
|1950||Night and the City|
|1951||Happy Go Lovely|
|1951||Lady Godiva Rides Again|
|1952||Wings of Danger|
|1952||It Started with Paradise|
|1953||Street of Shadows|
|1953||The Square Ring|
|1953||Meet Mr Lucifer|
|1954||Fast and Loose|
|1954||Abdulla the Great|
|1954||Doctor in the House|
|1954||The Constant Husband|
|1955||Simon and Laura|
|1956||The Adventures of Quentin Durward|
|1958||The Reluctant Debutante|
|1959||Once More With Feeling|
Kay Kendall at Amazon UK
Kay Kendall at Amazon US