English rose best known for role as mother in 'The Railway Children'

Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 00:00

DINAH SHERIDAN:Though the actor Dinah Sheridan, who has died aged 92, was an “English rose” of the type still firmly in vogue in British theatre and films of the immediate postwar era, she had a vivacity and depth of talent that went further than the label suggested.

Sheridan specialised in decorous English heroines, giving moderately prim performances in an era when being “ladylike” was considered desirable. After a period appearing in British films such as the royal command performance film Where No Vultures Fly (1951), about the adventures of an east African game warden,

Genevieve (1953) was about to make her an international hot property.

However, in 1954 she married Sir John Davis, head of the Rank Organisation, who wanted her to give up her career and be a mother to his three children. In the eyes of his critics in the British film industry, Davis’s oppressive personality helped strangle the industry at a time when it could have done with powerful friends. Her status as his wife had a critical effect on her career and health.

She had been divorced from the actor Jimmy Hanley, whom she had first met in 1942 on the set of the film Salute John Citizen.

Sheridan admitted later she had not known Davis well enough before marrying him. Soon she found that although he had told her about his first and third wives, he had not mentioned wives two and four.

She was baptised at the age of 41, and sought divorce on the grounds of cruelty.

Her career was revived when she appeared in a role tailor-made for her: the ever-understanding mother in the 1970 film of the literary classic The Railway Children.

Her birth name was Dinah Nadyejda Mec. She chose Sheridan from a telephone directory.She is survived by her daughter Jenny, an actor, and her son Jeremy, a former Conservative MP.

Born September 17th, 1920 Died November 25th, 2012