Sheila Sim

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Not to be confused with Sheila Burrell.
Sheila Sim
Sheila Canterbury 2004.jpg
Lady Attenborough at Canterbury, October 2004
Born Sheila Beryl Grant Sim
(1922-06-05) 5 June 1922 (age 93)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Years active 1944–55
Title The Rt Hon The Baroness Attenborough [1]
Spouse(s) Richard Attenborough
(1945–2014; his death)
Children Michael Attenborough
(13 Feb 1950 - )
Jane Holland
(30 Sep 1955 – 26 Dec 2004)
Charlotte Attenborough
(29 June 1959 -)
Relatives David Attenborough
John Attenborough
(brother-in-law, deceased)
Gerald Sim
(brother, deceased)
Jane Seymour
(former daughter-in-law)

Sheila Beryl Grant Attenborough, the Lady Attenborough[2] (born 5 June 1922 in Liverpool, Lancashire), known professionally by her maiden name Sheila Sim, is an English film and theatre actress and the widow of the actor and director Richard Attenborough.


Sim was mainly active as an actress in the 1940s and 1950s. She appeared in the Powell and Pressburger film, A Canterbury Tale in 1944; she acted alongside her husband in the Boulting brothers' The Guinea Pig in 1948; and starred opposite Anthony Steel in 1954's West of Zanzibar.

In theatre, she notably co-starred with her husband, Richard Attenborough, in the first production of The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, which opened in London in 1952 (creating the role of Mollie Ralston). This thriller has since become the world's longest-running production of a play.

After recruitment by Noël Coward, Sim has actively served the Actors' Charitable Trust for more than 60 years. She was instrumental in the success of two redevelopments of the actors' care home, Denville Hall, in the 1960s and 2000s, and is currently a Trustee and Vice President of the charities.

Sim has been a significant benefactor to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where she originally trained; her husband was RADA's president from 2003 until his death in 2014.


Sheila married Richard Attenborough on 22 January 1945 and they had lived in a house on Richmond Green in London from 1956 until 2012, when Richard put it up for sale for £11.5 million.[3]

The couple had three children, Michael, Jane, and Charlotte. Jane, along with her 15-year-old daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the Indian Ocean tsunami as it struck their villa on the coast of Thailand on 26 December 2004. Michael and Charlotte are both involved, like their parents, in the dramatic professions: he as a director, she as an actress. Sim's brother, Gerald, who died on 11 December 2014, was also an actor.

Richard Attenborough died on 24 August 2014. Sim and Attenborough had been married for nearly 70 years.[4]

Recent health[edit]

Shortly before her 90th birthday, in June 2013 Sim entered the actors' north London retirement home Denville Hall, for which she and her husband had helped raise funds.[5] In July 2012, while her husband Richard had been battling health issues in recent years, it was announced that Sim has been diagnosed with senile dementia.[6] In March 2013. in the light of his deteriorating health, Richard Attenborough moved into Denville Hall to be with his wife, confirmed by their son Michael.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Debretts: Widow of a Baron Linked 2014-10-04
  2. ^ Since the Lady Attenborough's late husband was a peer, her correct style is the Right Honourable Sheila Beryl Grant Attenborough, the Lady Attenborough.
  3. ^ "Lord Attenborough's family rally round as Sheila Sim is hit by illness". The Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2012. Archived from the original on 28 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Actor Richard Attenborough dies at 90". BBC News Online. 24 August 2014. Archived from the original on 28 August 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Hardcastle, Ephraim (31 May 2012). "New Ernest Hemingway biopic". Daily Mail (Mail Online). Archived from the original on 28 August 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Melanie Hall (26 March 2013). "Film director Richard Attenborough moved to care home". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.