Lockwood, Margaret (1916–1990)

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Lockwood, Margaret (1916–1990)

British stage and film actress. Born on September 15, 1916, in Karachi, India (now Pakistan); died in 1990; only daughter and one of two children of Henry Lockwood (a British civil servant) and Margaret Evelyn (Waugh) Lockwood; attended Sydenham Girls' High School; studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; married Rupert W. Leon (a steel broker), around 1937 (divorced 1955): children: Julia Lockwood (b. 1941).

Selected theater:

first appeared on stage as a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Holborn Empire Theater, 1928); appeared in the pantomime The Babes in the Wood (Scala Theater, December 1929); appeared as Myrtle in House on Fire ("Q" Theater, June 1934), Margaret Hamilton in Family Affairs (Ambassadors' Theater, August 1934), Helene Ferber in Repayment (Arts Theater, January 1936), Trixie Drew in Miss Smith (Duke of York's Theater, July 1936), Ann Harlow in Ann's Lapse ("Q" Theater, July 1937); toured as Amanda in Private Lives (April 1949); title role in Peter Pan (Scala Theater, December 1949 and December 1950); appeared as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (Edinburgh Festival, 1951), Clarissa Hailsham-Browne in Spider's Web (Savoy Theater, London, December 1954), Dinah Holland in Subway in the Sky (Savoy Theater, February 1957); toured as Jane Palmer in Murder on Arrival (1958–59); appeared as Sally Seymour in And Suddenly It's Spring (Duke of York's Theater, November 1959); toured as Barbara Martin in Milk and Honey (February 1961); appeared as Sally Thomas in Signpost to Murder (Cambridge Theater, February 1962), Caroline in Every Other Evening (Phoenix Theater, November 1964), Mrs. Cheveley in An Ideal Husband (Garrick Theater, December 1966), Claire Williams in The Others (Strand Theater, September 1967), Diane in On a Foggy Day (St. Martin's Theater, July 1969), Lady Frederick Berelles in Lady Frederick (Vaudeville Theater June 1970); appeared in Double Edge (1975).

Filmgraphy in England, unless otherwise noted:

Lorna Doone (1935); The Case of Gabriel Perry (1935); Some Day (1935); Honours Easy (1935); Man of the Moment (1935); Midshipman Easy (Men of the Sea, 1935); Jury's Evidence (1936); The Amateur Gentleman (1936); The Beloved Vagabond (1936); Irish for Luck (1936); The Street Singer (1937); Who's Your Lady Friend? (1937); Dr. Syn (1937); Melody and Romance (1937); Owd Bob (To the Victor, 1938); Bank Holiday (Three on a Weekend, 1938); The Lady Vanishes (1938); A Girl Must Live (1939); Susannah of the Mounties (US, 1939); Rulers of the Sea (US, 1939); The Stars Look Down (1940); Night Train to Munich (Night Train, 1940); The Girl in the News (1940); Quiet Wedding (1941); Alibi (1942); The Man in Grey (1943); Dear Octopus (The Randolph Family, 1943); Give Us the Moon (1944); Love Story (A Lady Surrenders, 1944); A Place of One's Own (1945); I'll Be Your Sweetheart (1945); The Wicked Lady (1945); Bedelia (1946); Hungry Hill (1946); Jassy (1947); The White Unicorn (Bad Sister, 1947); Look Before You Love (1948); Cardboard Cavalier (1949); Madness of the Heart (1949); Highly Dangerous (1950); Trent's Last Case (1953); Laughing Anne (1953); Trouble in the Glen (1954); Cast a Dark Shadow (1955); The Slipper and the Rose (1976).

The daughter of Margaret Evelyn Lockwood and Henry Lockwood, a British civil servant serving in India, actress Margaret Lockwood was born in 1916 in Karachi, but spent most of her childhood in a London suburb where she lived with an aunt while attending school. At an early age, she decided on a career in the theater and was enrolled at the famous training school conducted by Italia Conti, who also taught Noel Coward, Brian Aherne, Gertrude Lawrence , and other notable actors. She made her stage debut at 12, playing a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Holborn Empire Theater in London. The next year, she played in the Christmas pantomime Babes in the Wood at the Scala. After high school, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Lockwood made a successful West End debut in Family Affair (1934), which led to her first film role in Lorna Doone (1935). Between 1934 and 1935, she made five more films and rose to "leading lady" status in The Amateur Gentleman (1936) and The Beloved Vagabond (1936). Notable among her films of the late-1930s was The Lady Vanishes (1938), made under the auspices of the British studios of Twentieth-Century Fox, which subsequently brought Lockwood to Hollywood, casting her with Randolph Scott and Shirley Temple (Black) in Susannah of the Mounties (1939). "I didn't know what I was supposed to do," she later said of the shoot, in which she appeared to be miscast. Her second American film, Rulers of the Sea (1939), with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., proved to be an equally dismal experience.

Returning to England, Lockwood's popularity soared during the 1940s. She was particularly successful in unsympathetic roles, especially those opposite actor James Mason in Alibi (1942) and The Man in Grey (1943). With her third picture with Mason, The Wicked Lady, the actress won the first of her three "Silver Star" awards as the most popular screen actress of the year. The award, which was established by the London Daily Mail in 1946 to commemorate the newspaper's jubilee year, was presented to Lockwood again in 1947 and 1948. With the success of her performance in The Wicked Lady, the actress went on to play a succession of malevolent femme fatale roles, until she finally declared she was "tired of being a wicked lady" and wanted to do something comic for a change.

Unfortunately, Lockwood was not as adept in lighter fare. Look Before You Love (1948), in which she played a blind girl whose husband's ex-fiancée keeps trying to murder her, has been ranked by at least one critic as the worst film of its year. As Nell Gwynn in Cardboard Cavalier (1949), a role she strongly petitioned for, she was well meaning but unconvincing. With her film career waning, she dissolved her long-standing contract with J. Arthur Rank and signed a two-year contract with Herbert Wilcox, who had been producing successful vehicles for his wife Anna Neagle . Wilcox, however, failed to ignite interest in Lockwood, and her final effort was a dreary independent film, Cast a Dark Shadow (1955).

Meanwhile, Lockwood was reclaiming her stage career, notably in a tour of Private Lives in 1949 and an appearance as Peter Pan that same year. Subsequently, she performed in a string of plays, including Spider's Web (1954), Subway in the Sky (1957), And Suddenly It's Spring (1959), An Ideal Husband (1966), and the suspense thriller Double Edge (1975). She was also seen as a barrister in the "Justice" television series and in her own successful series, "The Flying Swan." She returned to films briefly in 1976, playing the wicked stepmother in a musical version of Cinderella, The Slipper and the Rose.

In her heyday a petite raven-haired beauty, Lockwood was sometimes compared physically to Joan Bennett . She was married to a London steel broker, Rupert Leon, with whom she had one daughter Margaret Julia Leon, known as "Toots," who made her screen debut with her mother in Bad Sister (1947) and went on to a successful film career of her own as Julia Lockwood . Divorced in 1955, Lockwood spent her later years living quietly in a small suburban house at Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. The actress died in 1990.


Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1948.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

suggested reading:

Lockwood, Margaret. Lucky Star (autobiography), 1955.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts