Margaret Lockwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Margaret Lockwood
Publicity photo of Margaret Lockwood
Margaret Lockwood, 1938
Born Margaret Mary Day Lockwood
(1916-09-15)15 September 1916
Karachi, British India
Died 15 July 1990(1990-07-15) (aged 73)
London, England
Years active 1928–1983
Spouse(s) Rupert Leon (m. 1937; div. 1949)
Children Julia Lockwood

Margaret Lockwood, CBE (15 September 1916 – 15 July 1990) was an English actress. One of Britain's most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, her film appearances included The Lady Vanishes (1938), Night Train to Munich (1940), The Man in Grey (1943), and The Wicked Lady (1945). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress for the 1955 film Cast a Dark Shadow. She also starred in the 1970s television series, Justice (1971–74).

Early life[edit]

Margaret Mary Day Lockwood was born on 15 September 1916 in Karachi, British India, to Henry Francis Lockwood, an English administrator of a railway company, and his Scottish third wife Margaret Eveline Waugh.[1] She returned to England in 1920 with her mother, brother 'Lyn' and half-brother Frank, and a further half-sister 'Fay' joined them the following year, but her father remained in Karachi, visiting them infrequently. She also had another half-brother, John, from her father's first marriage, brought up by his mother in England.[2] Lockwood attended Sydenham High School for girls, and a ladies' school in Kensington, London.[1]

She began studying for the stage at an early age at the Italia Conti, and made her debut in 1928, at the age of 12, at the Holborn Empire where she played a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In December of the following year, she appeared at the Scala Theatre in the pantomime The Babes in the Wood.[1] In 1932 she appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Cavalcade.


In 1933, Lockwood enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she was seen by a talent scout and signed to a contract.[1] In June 1934 she played Myrtle in House on Fire at the Queen's Theatre, and on 22 August 1934 appeared as Margaret Hamilton in Gertrude Jenning's play Family Affairs when it premiered at the Ambassadors Theatre; Helene Ferber in Repayment at the Arts Theatre in January 1936; Trixie Drew in Henry Bernard's play Miss Smith at the Duke of York's Theatre in July 1936; and back at the Queen's in July 1937 as Ann Harlow in Ann's Lapse.


Lockwood entered films in 1934, and in 1935 she appeared in the film version of Lorna Doone. For British Lion she was in The Case of Gabriel Perry (1935), then was in Honours Easy (1935) with Greta Nissen and Man of the Moment (1935) with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. These were standard ingenue roles. She was the female love interest in Midshipman Easy (1935), directed by Carol Reed, who would become crucial to Lockwood's career. She had the lead in Someday (1935), a quota quickie directed by Michael Powell and in Jury's Evidence (1936), directed by Ralph Ince.

Lockwood had a small role in The Amateur Gentleman (1936), another with Fairbanks. Her profile rose when she appeared opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Beloved Vagabond (1936)[3]

She followed it with Irish for Luck (1936) and The Street Singer (1937). She had a small role in Who's Your Lady Friend? (1937), again for Carol Reed and was in Melody and Romance (1937).

Gaumont British[edit]

Gaumont British were making a film version of the novel Doctor Syn, starring George Arliss and Anna Lee with director Roy William Neill and producer Edward Black. Lee dropped out and was replaced by Lockwood. Lockwood so impressed the studio with her performance – particularly Black, who became a champion of hers – she signed a three-year contract with Gainsborough Pictures in June 1937.[4][5][6]

For Black and director Robert Stevenson she supported Will Fyffe in Owd Bob (1938), opposite John Loder.

British Stardom: Bank Holiday and The Lady Vanishes[edit]

Lockwood then had her best chance to date, being given the lead in Bank Holiday, directed by Carol Reed and produced by Black.[7] This movie was a hit and launched Lockwood as a star. Even more popular was her next movie, The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, produced by Black and co-starring Michael Redgrave. Hitchcock was greatly impressed by Lockwood, telling the press:

She has an undoubted gift in expressing her beauty in terms of emotion, which is exceptionally well suited to the camera. Allied to this is the fact that she photographs more than normally easily, and has an extraordinary insight to get the feel of her lines, to live within them, so to speak, as long as the duration of the picture lasts. It is not too much to expect that in Margaret Lockwood the British picture industry has a possibility of developing a star of hitherto un-anticipated possibilities.[8]

She followed this with A Girl Must Live, a musical comedy about chorus girls for Black and Reed. It was one of a series of films made by Gaumont aimed at the US market.[9]

US films[edit]

Gaumont British had distribution agreements with 20th Century Fox in the US and they expressed interested in borrowing Lockwood for some films. She travelled to Los Angeles and was put to work supporting Shirley Temple in Susannah of the Mounties (1939), set in Canada, opposite Randolph Scott. She was borrowed by Paramount for Rulers of the Sea (1939), with Will Fyffe and Fairbanks Jnr. Paramount indicated a desire to use Lockwood in more films[10] but she decided to go home.[11]

Return to Britain[edit]

Lockwood returned to Britain in June 1939. She was meant to make film versions of Rob Roy and The Blue Lagoon[12] but both projects were cancelled with the advent of war. Instead she played the role of Jenny Sunley, the self-centred, frivolous wife of Michael Redgrave's character in The Stars Look Down for Carol Reed.

She was meant to be reunited with Reed and Regrave in Girl in the News (1940) but then Redgrave dropped out and was replaced by Barry K. Barnes, Black produced and Sidney Gilliat wrote the script.

There was a third in a row with Reed, Night Train to Munich (1940), an attempt to repeat the success of The Lady Vanishes with the same screenwriters (Launder and Gilliat) and characters of Charters and Caldicott. Rex Harrison was the male star.

Quiet Wedding (1941) was a comedy directed by Anthony Asquith. Alibi (1942) was a thriller.

The Man in Grey[edit]

Lockwood was well established as a middle-tier name. What made her a front rank star was The Man in Grey (1943), the first of what would be known as the Gainsborough melodramas. Lockwood wanted to play the part of Clarissa but producer Edward Black cast her as the villainous Hesther.[13] She was featured alongside Phyllis Calvert, James Mason and Stewart Granger for director Leslie Arliss. The film was a massive hit, one of the biggest in 1943 Britain, and made all four lead actors into top stars.

She appeared in two comedies for Black: Dear Octopus (1943) with Michael Wilding from a play by Dodie Smith, and Give Us the Moon (1944), with Vic Oliver directed by Val Guest. Much more popular than either of these was another melodrama with Arliss and Granger, Love Story (1944), where she played a terminally ill pianist.

Lockwood was reunited with James Mason in A Place of One's Own (1945), playing a housekeeper possessed by the spirit of a dead girl, but the film was not a success. I'll Be Your Sweetheart (1945) was a musical with Guest and Vic Oliver.

The Wicked Lady[edit]

Lockwood had the biggest success of her career to date with the title role in The Wicked Lady (1945), opposite Mason and Michael Rennie for director Arliss. The film was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1946.[14] In 1946 Lockwood gained the Daily Mail National Film Awards First Prize for most popular British film actress.

She was a murdress in Bedelia (1946) which did not perform as well, although it was popular in Britain.

Contract with Rank[edit]

In July 1946 Lockwood signed a six-year contract with Rank to make two movies a year. The first of these was Hungry Hill (1947), an expensive adaptation of the novel by Daphne du Maurier which was not the expected success at the box office.

More popular was Jassy (1947), the seventh biggest hit at the British box office in 1947.[15] In 1947 she refused to appear in Roses for Her Pillow (which became Once Upon a Dream) and was put on suspension.[16] It was the last of "official" Gainsborough melodrama – the studio had come under control of J. Arthur Rank who disliked the genre.

She was a warden in The White Unicorn (1947), a melodrama. Look Before You Love (1948) was a thriller. A change of pace came with the comedy Cardboard Cavalier (1949), with Lockwood playing Nell Gwynee opposite Sid Field. The film was a critical and box office disappointment. "I was terribly distressed when I read the press notices of the film", wrote Lockwood.[17]

She was in another melodrama, Madness of the Heart (1949), but the film was not a particular success. She returned to the stage in a record-breaking national tour of Noël Coward's Private Lives in 1949,[18] and also played Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Edinburgh Festival of 1951,[19] and the title role in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in 1949, 1950 and 1957 (the last with her daughter Julia Lockwood as Wendy).

She returned to filmmaking after an 18-month absence to star in Highly Dangerous (1950), a comic thriller in the vein of Lady Vanishes written expressly for her by Eric Ambler and directed by Roy Ward Baker. It was not popular and Lockwood soon ended her contract with the Rank organisation.[20][21]

Herbert Wilcox[edit]

In 1952 Lockwood signed a two picture a year contract with Herbert Wilcox at $112,000 a year, making her the best paid actress in British films.[22] The association began well with Trent's Last Case (1952) with Michael Wilding and Orson Welles which was popular. However the next two were commercial disappointments: Laughing Anne (1953) and Trouble in the Glen (1954). She made no more films with Wilcox.

Lockwood appeared in a thriller, Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) with Dirk Bogarde for director Lewis Gilbert. Gilbert later said "it was reasonably successful but by then Margaret had been in several really bad films and her name on a picture was rather counter-productive."[23]

Later career[edit]

As her popularity waned in the 1950s, she returned to occasional performances on the West End stage and appeared on television. Her subsequent long-running West End hits include an all-star production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965–66, in which she played the villainous Mrs Cheveley), W. Somerset Maugham's Lady Frederick (1970), Relative Values (Noël Coward revival, 1973) and the thrillers Spider's Web (1955, written for her by Agatha Christie), Signpost to Murder (1962) and Double Edge (1975).

In 1969 she starred as barrister Julia Stanford in the TV play Justice is a Woman. This inspired the Yorkshire Television series Justice, which ran for three seasons (39 episodes) from 1971 to 1974, and featured her real-life partner, John Stone, as fictional boyfriend Dr Ian Moody. Lockwood's role as the feisty Harriet Peterson won her Best Actress Awards from the TV Times (1971) and The Sun (1973). In 1975 film director Bryan Forbes persuaded her out of an apparent retirement from feature films to play the role of the Stepmother in what would be her last feature film, The Slipper and the Rose. This film also included final feature film appearances by Kenneth More and Edith Evans.

Her last professional appearance was as Queen Alexandra in Royce Ryton's stage play Motherdear (Ambassadors Theatre, 1980).

Margaret Lockwood was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours of 1981.

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in December 1963. She was a guest on the British Broadcasting Corporation's radio show Desert Island Discs on 25 April 1951.

Personal life[edit]

Lockwood married Rupert Leon in 1937 (divorced in 1950).[24] She lived her final years in seclusion in Kingston upon Thames, dying at the Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London from cirrhosis of the liver, aged 73. Her body was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium. She was survived by her daughter, the actress Julia Lockwood (née Margaret Julia Leon, born 1941).


Year Title Role Director Notes Ref
1934 Lorna Doone Annie Ridd Basil Dean [25]
1935 The Case of Gabriel Perry Mildred Perry Albert de Courville [25]
Honours Easy Ann Herbert Brenon [25]
Man of the Moment Vera Monty Banks [25]
Midshipman Easy Donna Agnes Carol Reed [25]
Someday Emily Michael Powell [25]
1936 Jury's Evidence Betty Stanton Ralph Ince [25]
The Amateur Gentleman Georgina Huntstanton Thornton Freeland [25]
The Beloved Vagabond Blanquette Curtis Bernhardt [25]
Irish for Luck Ellen O'Hare Arthur B. Woods [25]
1937 The Street Singer Jenny Green Jean de Marguenat [25]
Who's Your Lady Friend? Mimi Carol Reed [25]
Doctor Syn Imogene Clegg Roy William Neill [25]
Melody and Romance Margaret Williams Maurice Elvey [25]
1938 Owd Bob Jeannie McAdam Robert Stevenson To the Victor [25]
Bank Holiday Catherine Lawrence Carol Reed Three on a Weekend [25]
The Lady Vanishes Iris Henderson Alfred Hitchcock [25]
1939 Susannah of the Mounties Vicky Standing Walter Lang, William A. Seiter [25]
A Girl Must Live Leslie James Carol Reed [25]
Rulers of the Sea Mary Shaw Frank Lloyd [25]
1940 The Stars Look Down Jenny Sunley Carol Reed [25]
Girl in the News Anne Graham Carol Reed [25]
Night Train to Munich Anna Bomasch Carol Reed [25]
1941 Quiet Wedding Janet Royd Anthony Asquith [25]
1942 Alibi Helene Ardouin Brian Desmond Hurst [25]
1943 The Man in Grey Hesther Shaw Leslie Arliss [25]
Dear Octopus Penny Randolph Harold French [25]
1944 Give Us the Moon Nina Val Guest [25]
Love Story Lissa Campbell Leslie Arliss A Lady Surrenders [25]
1945 A Place of One's Own Annette Bernard Knowles [25]
I'll Be Your Sweetheart Edie Story Val Guest [25]
The Wicked Lady Barbara Worth Leslie Arliss [25]
1946 Bedelia Bedelia Carrington Lance Comfort [25]
1947 Hungry Hill Fanny Rosa Brian Desmond Hurst [25]
Jassy Jassy Woodroofe Bernard Knowles [25]
The White Unicorn Lucy Bernard Knowles Bad Sister [25]
1948 Pygmalion Eliza Doolittle Television film
Look Before You Love Ann Markham Harold Huth [25]
1949 Cardboard Cavalier Nell Gwynne Walter Forde [25]
Madness of the Heart Lydia Garth Charles Bennett [25]
1950 Highly Dangerous Frances Gray Roy Ward Baker [25]
1952 Trent's Last Case Margaret Manderson Herbert Wilcox [25]
1953 Captain Brassbound's Conversion Lady Cicely Wayneflete Dennis Vance Television film [25]
Laughing Anne Laughing Anne Herbert Wilcox [25]
1954 Trouble in the Glen Marissa Mengues Herbert Wilcox [25]
1955 Spider's Web Clarissa Hailsham-Brown Wallace Douglas Television film
Cast a Dark Shadow Freda Jeffries Lewis Gilbert [25]
1956 Murder Mistaken Freda Jeffries Campbell Logan Television film [25]
Call It a Day Dorothy Hilton Hal Burton Television film
1976 The Slipper and the Rose Stepmother Bryan Forbes [25]
1983 The Man in Gray Hesther Shaw Leslie Arliss [26]

Unmade films[edit]

Theatre credits[edit]

  • Family Affairs by Gertrude Jennings (1934)[31]


Box-office popularity[edit]

Various polls of exhibitors consistently listed Lockwood among the most popular stars of her era:

  • 1943 – 7th most popular British star in Britain[32]
  • 1944 – 6th most popular British star in Britain[33]
  • 1945 – 3rd most popular British star in Britain (Phyllis Calvert was 5th)[34]
  • 1946 – 10th most popular star in Australia,[35] 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain[36][37]
  • 1947 – 4th most popular star and 3rd most popular British star in Britain[38][39]
  • 1948 – 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain,[40] most popular female star in Canada[41]
  • 1949 – 5th most popular British star in Britain[42]



  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Margaret Lockwood". The Times. 17 July 1990. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Ward, R. D. (2014). Wealth and Notability: The Lockwood, Day and Metcalfe Families of Yorkshire and London. London: Robert Ward. ISBN 978-1-29167-940-3. 
  3. ^ "TALKIE NEWS". The Chronicle. LXXX, (4,208). South Australia. 8 July 1937. p. 51. Retrieved 7 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ "News of the Screen: ' Woman Chases Man' Opens Today at Music Hall 'George and Margaret' on Warner's Program News From Hollywood". New York Times. 10 June 1937. p. 27. 
  5. ^ "A LADY WHO HAS LOOKS". New York Times. 5 June 1938. p. 156. 
  6. ^ "THE LIFE STORY OF MARGARET LOCKWOOD". Voice. 26, (28). Tasmania, Australia. 11 July 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "Margaret Lockwood, English Star". The Age (25,771). Victoria, Australia. 20 November 1937. p. 6 ("THE AGE" LITERARY SUPPLEMENT). Retrieved 7 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ a b "Margaret Lockwood Can Keep A Secret". The Queenslander. 7 December 1938. p. 14. Retrieved 1 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "GAUMONT BRITISH PLANS 12 RELEASES: Program of Class A Feature Films for U. S. Market Is Outlined for 1937-38 SEVERAL STARS LISTED Jessie Matthews, Anna Neagle and Nova Pilbeam Included Other Picture Items News From Hollywood". New York Times. 10 July 1937. p. 18. 
  10. ^ Schallert, Edwin (12 June 1939). "Drama: Barrymore to Enact Pellagra Conqueror Lockwood Contract Society Figure Signs Davis Vis-a-Vis Trio Brennan in 'Black Gold' Beverly Roberts Deal". Los Angeles Times. p. A14. 
  11. ^ DOUGLAS W CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (21 June 1939). "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Wilfred Lawson to Take Place of Bob Burns in 'Alleghany Frontier'--Two New Openings Here Two More Political Films Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 31. 
  12. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Louise Campbell Coming to See Play in Which She Will Have Film Role--3 Openings Here Today Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES..". New York Times. 8 Feb 1939. p. 26. 
  13. ^ America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies By John Howard Reid p 154
  14. ^ "JAMES MASON TOP OF BRITISH BOX OFFICE.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane. 20 December 1946. p. 4. Retrieved 10 July 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  15. ^ "JAMES MASON 1947 FILM FAVOURITE". The Irish Times. Dublin, Ireland. 2 Jan 1948. p. 7. 
  16. ^ "MARGARET LOCKWOOD: Contract Suspended by Rank Organisation". The Manchester Guardian. Manchester (UK). 31 Oct 1947. p. 5. 
  17. ^ Margaret Lockwood, "Was I Difficult?", Picturegoer, 22 April 1950 p 15
  18. ^ "British Stars Top the List". The Age (29,541). Victoria, Australia. 31 December 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 9 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  19. ^ Harold Hobson (25 Aug 1951). "First Play Is 'Pygmalion'; A Tribute to Louis Jouvet: Tie with the French The Director's Function Jouvet and Scenery". The Christian Science Monitor. Boston. p. 10. 
  20. ^ "Maggie comes back in Highly Dangerous.". The Sunday Times. Perth. 7 May 1950. p. 10 Supplement: Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 31 October 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  21. ^ "Ambler writes a thriller-comedy" Times Pictorial [Dublin, Ireland] 15 Apr 1950: 13.
  22. ^ "Margaret Lockwood Tops British Salaries". Los Angeles Times. 8 May 1952. p. 5. 
  23. ^ Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 221
  24. ^ "Margaret Lockwood Divorced". New York Times. 7 Nov 1950. p. 43. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au "Margaret Lockwood: Film & TV credits". British Film Institute. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  26. ^ "Margaret Lockwood: Filmography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  27. ^ Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES (8 Feb 1939). "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Louise Campbell Coming to See Play in Which She Will Have Film Role--3 Openings Here Today Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 26. 
  28. ^ "BUSY DAYS IN LONDON: Film Studios Move Into High Gear, With Full Schedule of Pictures Under Way Films Coming Up In Father's Footsteps Notes in Brief". By C.A. LEJEUNE, The New York Times. New York, N.Y. 25 Aug 1946. p. 51. 
  29. ^ Schallert, Edwin (9 Mar 1947). "British Film Star Irked by Censors: 'Silly,' Says Margaret Lockwood in Trans-Atlantic Phone Chat". Los Angeles Times. p. B1. 
  30. ^ Scheuer, Philip K (25 Aug 1948). "Bennett Framing Offer to Margaret Lockwood; Cowboy Star Horseless". Los Angeles Times. p. A7. 
  31. ^ OUR LONDON DRAMATIC CRITIC (23 Aug 1934). "LONDON THEATRES: "Family Affairs"". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland. p. 8. 
  32. ^ Motion Picture Herald, January 1, 1944
  33. ^ Motion Picture Herald, January 6, 1945
  34. ^ "Crosby and Hope Try their Luck in Alaska.". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas. 2 March 1946. p. 3 Supplement: The Mercury Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  35. ^ "Australia's Favorite Stars And Movies of the Year.". The Mail. Adelaide. 4 January 1947. p. 9 Supplement: Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  36. ^ "Film World". The West Australian. Perth. 28 February 1947. p. 20 Edition: Second Edition. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  37. ^ Motion Picture Herald, January 4, 1947
  38. ^ "Anna Neagle Most Popular Actress.". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 January 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 26 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  39. ^ Motion Picture Herald, January 3, 1948
  40. ^ "Bing Crosby Still Best Box-office Draw.". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 December 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 11 July 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  41. ^ "Film News". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas. 11 June 1949. p. 14. Retrieved 4 March 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 
  42. ^ "Bob Hope Box Office Favourite". The Cairns Post. Qld. 31 December 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 


  • Lockwood, Margaret (1955). Lucky Star. London: Odhams Press. ASIN B000XP8DT2. 
  • Parker, John (1947). Who's Who in the Theatre (Tenth ed.). London: Pitmans. pp. 945–946. 

External links[edit]