Diana Wynyard didn't make many films - she was much too interested in the stage for that - and half of those she did make were made in Hollywood. Even so, she has a secure place in the roll call of great British film stars.
She was born Dorothy Cox. The acting bug struck early, and by the mid-twenties she was doing walk-ons in the West End. After a spell in Liverpool rep she returned to the capital, becoming in a star in Sorry You've Been Troubled. In 1932 she appeared in New York opposite Basil Rathbone in The Devil Passes. Hollywood noticed.
She got a contract at MGM, where she was soon put to work in the Barrymore siblings vehicle Rasputin and the Empress. Her next job was on loan to Fox for their version of Noel Coward's Cavalcade. This performance got her an Oscar nomination. However, in an era dominated by gangster films and musicals she proved difficult to cast and after a handful of forgettable films she was back on stage.
She returned to Britain and a string of West End hits. It took some persuading to get her to resume her film career, but she finally did with On the Night of the Fire opposite Ralph Richardson. She was miscast in this, but that wasn't the case with her next one: Gaslight. This is her most revived performance; strange to think that it was thought lost for years (destroyed by MGM when they remade it with Ingrid Bergman). As the heiress tormented by husband Anton Walbrook she's unforgettable.
Thanks to the blitz, legitimate theatre work was unpredictable so Wynyard continued to film. She married the director of Kipps, Carol Reed. With the blitz receding, she scored a bit hit in Watch on the Rhine and didn't return to filming until the war (and her marriage) was over.
After the war, she made a handful of cameo appearances in films. Her stage career continued to thrive. She joined the National Theatre in its first year, but died before the end of the season.
|1932||Rasputin and the Empress (US)|
|1933||Men Must Fight (US)|
|1933||Reunion in Vienna (US)|
|1934||Where Sinners Meet (US)|
|1934||Let's Try Again (US)|
|1934||One More River (US)|
|1939||On the Night of the Fire|
|1941||The Prime Minister|
|1947||An Ideal Husband|
|1951||Tom Brown's Schooldays|
|1956||The Feminine Touch|
|1957||Island in the Sun (US)|
Diana Wynyard at Amazon UK
Diana Wynyard at Amazon US