Kay Walsh

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Kay Walsh
Kay Walsh.jpg
Kay Walsh in Lease of Life
Born Kathleen Walsh
(1911-11-15)November 15, 1911
Chelsea, London, UK
Died April 16, 2005(2005-04-16) (aged 93)
Chelsea, London, UK
Occupation Actress, dancer, writer
Years active 1934–1981

David Lean (m. 1940–1949; divorced)

Elliott Jaques (m. 1953; divorced)

Kathleen "Kay" Walsh (15 November 1911[1][2] – 16 April 2005) was an English actress and dancer. She was born in Chelsea, London, but was raised in Pimlico by her grandmother.[3]


She began her career as a dancer in West End music halls, making her film debut in How's Chances? (1934) in a small part, and had a larger role in another 1934 film, Get Your Man. She continued to act in "quota quickies" films for several years. Walsh first met David Lean, then a film editor, in 1936, during the filming of Secret Of Stamboul. They began a relationship and Walsh broke off her engagement to Pownell Pellew. Walsh and Lean married on 23 November 1940. She moved on to higher-prestige films with appearances in two Noël Coward-scripted films, In Which We Serve (1942) and This Happy Breed (1944), both directed by Lean. Walsh had campaigned for Lean to receive co-director credit on In Which We Serve.[4]

Walsh contributed dialogue to the 1938 film of Pygmalion,[4] and also devised the scenario for the closing sequence of Lean's film adaptation of Great Expectations (1946), for which she received a writing credit on the latter film.[5] She devised the opening sequence of Lean's adaptation of Oliver Twist (1948), as well as performing the role of "Nancy". Walsh and Lean divorced in 1949, on grounds of infidelity based on Lean's relationship with actress Ann Todd. Walsh continued to work as a character actress in films through the 1950s, including films with Alfred Hitchcock and Ronald Neame. Her own favourite film role was that of the barmaid Miss D. Coker in Neame's 1958 film of The Horse's Mouth, with Alec Guinness.[3]

Between films, she appeared regularly in plays and farces at the Strand and Aldwych theatres, directed by Basil Dean. She was a semi-regular on the 1979 Anglo-Polish TV series Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and remained active in films until her retirement in 1981. Her last role was in Night Crossing.[5]


Her second marriage was to the Canadian psychologist Elliott Jaques, and they adopted a daughter, Gemma, in 1956. That marriage also ended in divorce.

She lived in retirement in London. She died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, aged 93, from multiple burns, following an accident.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Ref.
1934 Get Your Man Mary Vivien [4]
1936 All That Glitters Eve Payne-Coade
1936 The Luck of the Irish Eileen O'Donnel
1936 Secret Of Stamboul Diana [3]
1937 Keep Fit Joan Allen [5]
The Last Adventurers Margaret Arkell [4]
1938 Meet Mr. Penny Peggy Allgood
1938 I See Ice Judy Gaye [4]
1939 Sons of the Sea Alison Devar
1940 The Middle Watch Fay Eaton
The Chinese Bungalow Sadie Merivale
The Second Mr. Bush Angela Windel-Todd
1942 In Which We Serve Freda Lewis [3]
1944 This Happy Breed Queen Gibbons [3]
1947 The October Man Molly Newman
1948 Vice Versa Florence Verlane [5]
Oliver Twist Nancy [5]
1950 Last Holiday Mrs Poole [5]
The Magnet Mrs Brent [5]
Stage Fright Nellie Goode [5]
1951 Encore Miss Molly Reid [3]
The Magic Box Hotel Receptionist
1952 Hunted Mrs. Sykes
1953 Young Bess Mrs Ashley [4]
1954 The Rainbow Jacket Barbara [6]
Lease of Life Vera Thorne [5]
1955 Cast a Dark Shadow Charlotte Young [5]
1958 The Horse's Mouth Dee Coker [4]
1960 Tunes of Glory Mary Titterington [5]
1961 Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog Mrs Brown
1962 Reach for Glory Mrs Curlew [5]
1963 80,000 Suspects Matron [5]
Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow Mrs Waggett
1964 Circus World Flo Hunt
The Beauty Jungle [5]
1965 He Who Rides a Tiger Mrs Woodley [5]
A Study in Terror Cathy Eddowes
1966 The Witches Stephanie Bax [5]
1970 Connecting Rooms Mrs Brent
The Virgin and the Gypsy Aunt Cissie [5]
Taste of Excitement Miss Barrow
Scrooge Mrs Fezziwig [5]
1972 The Ruling Class Mrs Piggot-Jones [5]
1982 Night Crossing Doris' mother [5]


  1. ^ a b McFarlane, Brian (2009). "Walsh, Kathleen (Kay) (1911-2005)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved January 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tom Vallance (27 April 2005). "Kay Walsh (obituary)". The Independent. London. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Kay Walsh (obituary)". Telegraph. London. 29 April 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Brian Baxter (29 April 2005). "Kay Walsh (obituary)". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  6. ^ "The Rainbow Jacket". studiocanal.co.uk. StudioCanal. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 

External links[edit]