Margaret Mary Day Lockwood
15 September 1916
|Died||15 July 1990 (aged 73)|
(m. 1937; div. 1949)
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 television series Justice (1971–74).
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. 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 Britain. Lockwood attended Sydenham High School for girls, and a ladies' school in Kensington, London.
She began studying for the stage at an early age at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, 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. 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. 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 this, British Lion put her under contract for £500 a year for the first year, going up to £750 a year for the second year.
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 ingénue 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.
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. This was at £4,000 a year.
British Stardom: Bank Holiday and The Lady Vanishes
Lockwood then had her best chance to-date, being given the lead in Bank Holiday, directed by Carol Reed and produced by Black. This movie was a hit and launched Lockwood as a star. She called it "my first really big picture... with a beautifully written script and a wonderful part for me." Gaumont increased her contract from three years to six.
Even more popular was her next movie, The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, produced by Black and co-starring Michael Redgrave. Lockwood called it "one of the films I have enjoyed most in all my career." 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 in getting 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.
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. According to Filmink Lockwood's "speciality [now] was playing a bright young thing who got up to mischief, usually by accident rather than design, and she often got to drive the action."
Gaumont British had distribution agreements with 20th Century Fox in the US and they expressed an interest 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 Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Paramount indicated a desire to use Lockwood in more films but she decided to go home.
Return to Britain
Lockwood returned to Britain in June 1939. She was meant to make film versions of Rob Roy and The Blue Lagoon 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. Lockwood later admitted "I was far from being reconciled to my role of the unpleasant girl and everyone treated me warily. But as the film progressed I found myself working with Carol Reed and Michael Redgrave again and gradually I was fascinated to see what I could put into the part."
She did another 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. This started filming in November 1939.
She was meant to be reunited with Reed and Redgrave in Girl in the News (1940) but Redgrave dropped out and was replaced by Barry K. Barnes: Black produced and Sidney Gilliat wrote the script. Quiet Wedding (1941) was a comedy directed by Anthony Asquith. She was meant to appear in Hatter's Castle but fell pregnant and had to drop out. Her return to acting was Alibi (1942), a thriller which she called "anything but a success... a bad film."
In September 1943 Variety estimated her salary at being US$24,000 per picture (equivalent to $289,000 in 2019).
The Man in Grey
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. 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 – at the end of the year, exhibitors voted Lockwood the seventh most popular British star at the box office.
She appeared in two comedies for Black: Dear Octopus (1943) with Michael Wilding from a play by Dodie Smith, which Lockwood felt was a backward step 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
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. In 1946, Lockwood gained the Daily Mail National Film Awards First Prize for most popular British film actress. However she was soon to suffer what has been called "a cold streak of poor films which few other stars have endured."
She was offered the role of Bianca in The Magic Bow but disliked the part and turned it down. Instead she was a murderess in Bedelia (1946), which did not perform as well, although it was popular in Britain.
Contract with Rank
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. It was the last of "official" Gainsborough melodramas – the studio had come under the control of J. Arthur Rank who disliked the genre.
She was a warden in The White Unicorn (1947), a melodrama from the team of Harold Huth and John Corfield. Rank wanted to star her in a film about Mary Magdalene but Lockwood was unhappy with the script. She refused to appear in Roses for Her Pillow (which became Once Upon a Dream) and was put on suspension. "I was sick of getting mediocre parts and poor scripts," she later wrote. "Since 1945 I had been sick of it... there had been little or no improvement to me in the films I was being offered." She later said "I was having fun being a rebel."
During her suspension she went on a publicity tour for Rank. She also appeared in an acclaimed TV production of Pygmalion (1948). then went off suspension when she made a comedy for Corfield and Huth, Look Before You Love (1948).
Lockwood had a change of pace with the comedy Cardboard Cavalier (1949), with Lockwood playing Nell Gwyn 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.
Lockwood was in the melodrama Madness of the Heart (1949), but the film was not a particular success. When a proposed film about Elisabeth of Austria was cancelled, she returned to the stage in a record-breaking national tour of Noël Coward's Private Lives (1949) and then played the title role in productions of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in 1949 and 1950. She also performed in a pantomime of Cinderella for the Royal Film performance with Jean Simmons; Lockwood called this "the jolliest show in which I have ever taken part."
She returned to film-making 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. Rank was to put her in an adaptation of Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells but the film was postponed. She turned down the female lead in The Browning Version, and a proposed sequel to The Wicked Lady, The Wicked Lady's Daughter, was never made.
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. Lockwood said Wilcox and his wife Anna Neagle promised from signing the contract "I was never allowed to forget that I was a really bright and dazzling star on their horizon. They were going to look after me as no one else had done before. They did. And I loved it."
The association began well with Trent's Last Case (1952) with Michael Wilding and Orson Welles which was popular. She appeared on TV in Ann Veronica and another TV adaptation of the Shaw play Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1953).
Her next two films for Wilcox were commercial disappointments: Laughing Anne (1953) and Trouble in the Glen (1954). She made no more films with Wilcox who called her "a director's joy who can shade a performance or a character with computer accuracy" but admitted their collaboration "did not come off."
She then 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."
As her popularity waned in the post war years, she returned to occasional performances on the West End stage and appeared on television; her television debut was in 1948 when she played Eliza Doolittle
She had the lead in a TV series The Royalty (1957–1958) and appeared regularly on TV anthology series. She played an aging West End star attempting a comeback in The Human Jungle with Herbert Lom (1965). She starred in another series The Flying Swan (1965).
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 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 last feature film The Slipper and the Rose. This film also included the final appearance of Edith Evans and one of the later appearances of Kenneth More.
Margaret Lockwood was apparently the inspiration for Sean Pertwee's death scene in Dog Soldiers. When asked about this, he referred to the foul grimace her character Julia Stanford readily expressed in the TV play Justice Is a Woman.
Lockwood married Rupert Leon in 1937 (divorced in 1950). 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, 1941–2019).
- adaptation of Rob Roy (1939) with Will Fyffe and Michael Redgrave
- adaptation of The Blue Lagoon (1939) with Richard Greene
- The Reluctant Widow – announced 1946
- Mary Magdalene written by Clemence Dane – Lockwood said she was "really looking forward" to making the film in 1947.
- Trial for Murder (1940s) – proposed Hollywood film from Mark Robson
- 1946 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Most Outstanding British actress during the war years
- 1947 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Best Film Actress of the year
- 1948 – Daily Mail National Film Awards Best Film Actress of the year in Jassy
- 1955 – BAFTA nomination for Best British Actress in Cast a Dark Shadow
- 1961 – Daily Mirror Television Award.
- 1971 – TV Times. Best Actress Award
- 1973 – The Sun. Best Actress Award
Various polls of exhibitors consistently listed Lockwood among the most popular stars of her era:
- 1943 – 7th most popular British star in Britain
- 1944 – 6th most popular British star in Britain
- 1945 – 3rd most popular British star in Britain (Phyllis Calvert was 5th)
- 1946 – 10th most popular star in Australia, 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain
- 1947 – 4th most popular star and 3rd most popular British star in Britain
- 1948 – 3rd most popular star and 2nd most popular British star in Britain, most popular female star in Canada
- 1949 – 5th most popular British star in Britain
- "Obituary: Margaret Lockwood". The Times. 17 July 1990. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- 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.
- Lockwood p 49
- "TALKIE NEWS". The Chronicle. LXXX (4, 208). Adelaide. 8 July 1937. p. 51. Retrieved 7 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "News of the Screen: ' Woman Chases Man' Opens Today at Music Hall 'George and Margaret' on Warner's Program News From Hollywood". The New York Times. 10 June 1937. p. 27.
- "A LADY WHO HAS LOOKS". The New York Times. 5 June 1938. p. 156.
- "THE LIFE STORY OF MARGARET LOCKWOOD". The Voice. 26 (28). Tasmania, Australia. 11 July 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Lockwood p 54
- "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.
- Lockwood p 77
- Lockwood p 66
- "Margaret Lockwood Can Keep A Secret". The Queenslander. 7 December 1938. p. 14. Retrieved 1 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "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". The New York Times. 10 July 1937. p. 18.
- Vagg, Stephen (29 January 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.
- "MARGARET LOCKWOOD IN U.S.A.—ON LOAN". Sunday Mail (488). Queensland, Australia. 27 August 1939. p. 5 (Magawine Supplement to The Sunday Mail). Retrieved 10 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- 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.
- 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". The New York Times. p. 31.
- "Margaret Lockwood Conquers Hollywood". The Courier-Mail (1877). Brisbane. 7 September 1939. p. 14. Retrieved 10 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "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.". The New York Times. 8 February 1939. p. 26.
- Lockwod p 79
- Lockwood p 86
- Lockwood p 96
- "Donat's 100G Per Tops for British Pix". Variety. 15 September 1943. p. 31.
- America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies By John Howard Reid p 154
- Lockwood p 99-100
- "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.
- Lockwood p 135
- "JAMES MASON 1947 FILM FAVOURITE". The Irish Times. Dublin, Ireland. 2 January 1948. p. 7.
- "Margaret Lockwood's fame brings problems". The Australian Women's Weekly. 15 (23). 15 November 1947. p. 32. Retrieved 28 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "MARGARET LOCKWOOD: Contract Suspended by Rank Organisation". The Manchester Guardian. Manchester (UK). 31 October 1947. p. 5.
- Lockwood p 134-135
- Lockwood p 136
- Lockwood p 138-139
- "FEMININE INTEREST". Warwick Daily News (9124). Queensland, Australia. 1 November 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 28 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Margaret Lockwood, "Was I Difficult?", Picturegoer, 22 April 1950 p 15
- "OVERSEAS FILM GOSSIP". Sunday Times (Perth) (2697). Western Australia. 6 November 1949. p. 16 (Sporting Section). Retrieved 28 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Margaret Aylwards BRITISH FILMS". The Sun (2394). New South Wales, Australia. 27 February 1949. p. 35. Retrieved 29 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "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.
- Lockwood p 152
- "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.
- "Ambler writes a thriller-comedy" Times Pictorial [Dublin, Ireland] 15 April 1950: 13.
- "Hollywood Invades The Festival (From London)". The Sydney Morning Herald (35, 406). 14 June 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 28 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Kids Like The Kissing". The Sunday Herald (Sydney) (64). New South Wales, Australia. 16 April 1950. p. 5 (Features). Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Harold Hobson (25 August 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.
- "Margaret Lockwood Tops British Salaries". Los Angeles Times. 8 May 1952. p. 5.
- Lockwood p 160
- "FILM PAGE". The Mail. 43 (2, 180). Adelaide. 20 March 1954. p. 4 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 29 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Herbert Wilcox, Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets, p 168
- "Agatha Christie To Have Three Plays In London". The Farmer & Settler. XLIX (21). New South Wales, Australia. 19 February 1954. p. 19. Retrieved 28 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 221
- "Margaret Lockwood's television debut". Radio Times 50th Anniversary Souvenir 1923-1973. BBC: 73. 1973.
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Margaret Lockwood". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
- "Margaret Lockwood Divorced". The New York Times. 7 November 1950. p. 43.
- "Margaret Lockwood: Film & TV credits". British Film Institute. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- "Margaret Lockwood: Filmography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES (8 February 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". The New York Times. p. 26.
- C.A. LEJEUNE (25 August 1946). "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". The New York Times. New York, N.Y. p. 51.
- Schallert, Edwin (9 March 1947). "British Film Star Irked by Censors: 'Silly,' Says Margaret Lockwood in Trans-Atlantic Phone Chat". Los Angeles Times. p. B1.
- Scheuer, Philip K (25 August 1948). "Bennett Framing Offer to Margaret Lockwood; Cowboy Star Horseless". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
- OUR LONDON DRAMATIC CRITIC (23 August 1934). "LONDON THEATRES: "Family Affairs"". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland. p. 8.
- Review of play at Variety
- Herbert, Ian; Baxter, Christine; Finley, Robert E. (1977). Who's who in the theatre : a biographical record of the contemporary stage. pp. 865. ISBN 0273001639.
- Motion Picture Herald, January 1, 1944
- Motion Picture Herald, January 6, 1945
- "Crosby and Hope Try their Luck in Alaska". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 2 March 1946. p. 3 Supplement: The Mercury Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- "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.
- "Film World". The West Australian (Second ed.). Perth. 28 February 1947. p. 20. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- Motion Picture Herald, January 4, 1947
- "Anna Neagle Most Popular Actress". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 January 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 26 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- Motion Picture Herald, January 3, 1948
- "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.
- "Film News". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 11 June 1949. p. 14. Retrieved 4 March 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Bob Hope Box Office Favourite". The Cairns Post. Qld. 31 December 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 25 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.