Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)
|Born||Moira Shearer King
17 January 1926
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, UK
|Died||31 January 2006
Oxford, England, UK
|Other names||Lady Kennedy|
|Spouse(s)||Ludovic Kennedy (1950–2006; her death)|
|Children||Alastair, Ailsa, Rachel, and Fiona|
She was born Moira Shearer-King at Morton Lodge in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, the only child of civil engineer Harold Charles King and Margaret Crawford Reid, née Shearer. In 1931 her family moved to Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, where her father worked as a civil engineer and where she received her first dancing training under a former pupil of Enrico Cecchetti. She returned to Britain in 1936 and trained with Flora Fairbairn in London for a few months before she was accepted as a pupil by the Russian teacher Nicholas Legat. At his studio she met Mona Inglesby who gave Shearer a part in her new ballet Endymion, presented at an all star matinee at the Cambridge Theatre in 1938. After three years with Legat, she joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet School. After the outbreak of World War II, her parents took her to live in Scotland. She joined Mona Inglesby's International Ballet for its 1941 provincial tour and West End season before moving on to Sadler's Wells in 1942.
She came to international attention for her first film role as Victoria Page in the Powell & Pressburger ballet-themed film The Red Shoes, (1948). Even her hair matched the titular footwear, and the role and film were so powerful that although she went on to star in other films and worked as a dancer for many decades, she is primarily known for playing "Vicky".
Shearer retired from ballet in 1953, but she continued to act, appearing as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the 1954 Edinburgh Festival. She worked again for Powell on The Tales of Hoffmann and on the controversial film Peeping Tom (1960), which damaged Powell's own career.
In 1972, she was chosen by the BBC to present the Eurovision Song Contest when it was staged at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. According to author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor's The Eurovision Song Contest: The Official History, Shearer accepted the role of hostess because her children wanted something to tease her with in the future. She also wrote for The Daily Telegraph newspaper and gave talks on ballet worldwide.
Along with her continued work in film, in the mid-1960s, Shearer danced (and sang) the role of Morgan le Fay in the original London production of Camelot, directed and choreographed by her Red Shoes co-star, Sir Robert Helpmann.
In 1950, Moira Shearer married journalist and broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy. They were married in the Chapel Royal in London's Hampton Court Palace and in their vows did not include the word "obey". She and Kennedy had a son, Alastair, and three daughters, Ailsa, Rachel, and Fiona. Shearer died at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, England at the age of 80.
|1948||The Red Shoes||Victoria Page|
|1951||The Tales of Hoffmann||Stella/Olympia|
|1953||The Story of Three Loves||Paula Woodward|
|1955||The Man Who Loved Redheads||Sylvia/Daphne/Olga/Colette|
|1987||A Simple Man (TV movie)||Mother|
- Debra Craine; Judith Mackrell (19 August 2010). The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Oxford University Press. pp. 408–. ISBN 0-19-956344-6.
- Fisher, Hugh (1952). "Moira Shearer" (2). Dancers of To-day.
- Mona Inglesby with Kay Hunter (2008). "Ballet in the Blitz". Groundnut Publishing.
- Handley-Taylor, Geoffrey (1947). "Mona Inglesby, Ballerina and Choreographer". Vawser and Wiles.
- "Mona Inglesby". London: The Independent. 13 October 2006. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- Percival, John. "Shearer, Moira". ODNB. OUP. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- O'Connor, John Kennedy. The Eurovision Song Contest: The Official History. Carlton Books, UK. 2007. ISBN 978-1-84442-994-3.
- "Moira of the Red Shoes". Photoplay. 1950.
- Obituary in The New York Times, 2 February 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- Moira Shearer at the Internet Movie Database
- Moira Shearer at the TCM Movie Database
- Moira Shearer at the Internet Broadway Database
- The Ballerina Gallery - Moira Shearer
- BBC Obituary of Moira Shearer
- "The Daily Telegraph" Obituary of Moira Shearer
- The Times Online obituary of Moira Shearer
- Moira Shearer at Find a Grave
Bernadette Ní Ghallchóir
|Eurovision Song Contest presenter