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16 March 1893
Chesterton, Cambridge, England
|Died||12 January 1981
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Cremated, Ashes scattered into the Pacific Ocean|
|Spouse(s)||Maurice Elvey (1923–19??; divorced)
Carl Harbord (1942–1958; his death)
Born Isabelle Reed in Chesterton, Cambridge, Elsom usually was cast as an aristocratic lady of the upper class. She attended Howard College, Bedford England. Over the course of three decades she appeared in 17 Broadway productions, beginning with The Ghost Train in 1926. Her best-known stage role was the wealthy murder victim in Ladies in Retirement (1939), a role she repeated in the 1941 film version. Her other theatre credits included The Innocents and Romeo and Juliet. Elsom made her first screen appearance during the silent film era (she frequently co-starred with Owen Nares) and appeared in nearly 100 films throughout her career.
She met her first husband, director Maurice Elvey, when he cast her in his 1919 film Quinneys. He went on to direct her in eight more films before they divorced. Elsom's other screen credits included The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), The Unseen (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Monsieur Verdoux, The Paradine Case, and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (all 1947), The Secret Garden (1949), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Lust for Life and 23 Paces to Baker Street (both 1956), and The Pleasure Seekers and My Fair Lady (both 1964).
She appeared opposite Jerry Lewis in four of his late 1950s/early 1960s films. Elsom's television credits included Armstrong Circle Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lux Video Theatre, My Three Sons, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (at least 4 appearances), Playhouse 90, Hawaiian Eye, and Dr. Kildare.
Elsom's second husband was actor Carl Harbord, from 1942 until his death in 1958. She had no children.
She died in Woodland Hills, California, aged 87.
National Portrait Gallery
- Onward Christian Soldiers (1918)
- A Member of Tattersall's (1919)
- Mrs. Thompson (1919)
- Linked by Fate (1919)
- Aunt Rachel (1920)
- Nance (1920)
- For Her Father's Sake (1921)
- A Debt of Honour (1922)
- The Harbour Lights (1923)
- The Love Story of Aliette Brunton (1924)
- The Last Witness (1925)
- The Primrose Path (1934)
- Eagle Squadron (1942)
- Seven Sweethearts (1942)
- Between Two Worlds (1944)
- Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
- The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947)
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
- Smart Woman (1948)
- My Fair Lady (1964)
- Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976 vol.2 D-H p.756-757, originally published annually by John Parker; this final 1976 edition published by Gale Research Company
- National Portraits Gallery website
- Isobel Elsom at the Internet Movie Database
- Isobel Elsom at the Internet Broadway Database
- Isobel Elsom at Find a Grave