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Sheridan, Dinah (1920—)

Sheridan, Dinah (1920—)

English actress who starred in the comedy classic Genevieve. Born Dinah Nadyejda Mec on September 17, 1920, in Hampstead, England; daughter of James Mec and Lisa Mec (both photographers); attended Sherrards Wood School; trained at the Italia Conti school; married Jimmy Hanley (an actor), on May 8, 1942 (divorced 1952); married Sir John Davis (an executive at Rank), in 1954 (divorced 1965); married Jack Merivale (an actor), in 1986 (died 1990); married Aubrey Ison, in 1992; children: (first marriage) Jeremy Hanley (b. 1945, a member of Parliament), Jenny Hanley (b. 1947, a model and actress), another daughter who died at birth; (second marriage) three stepchildren.

Selected filmography:

Irish and Proud of It (1936); Landslide (1937); Behind Your Back (1937); Full Speed Ahead (1939); Salute John Citizen (1942); Get Cracking (1943); For You Alone (1944); 29 Acacia Avenue (1945); Murder in Reverse (1945); The Hills of Donegal (1947); Calling Paul Temple (1948); The Huggetts Abroad (1949); The Story of Shirley Yorke (1949); Dark Secret (1949); No Trace (1950); Blackout (1950); Paul Temple's Triumph (1950); Where No Vultures Fly (1951); The Sound Barrier (1952); Appointment in London (1950); The Gilbert and Sullivan Story (1953); Genevieve (1953); The Railway Children (1971); The Mirror Crack'd (1980).

Born in England in 1920 to a German mother and a Russian father, Dinah Sheridan made her London stage debut at the age of 12 and soon thereafter joined a tour of Peter Pan, playing Wendy to Elsa Lanchester 's Peter and Charles Laughton's Captain Hook. She continued acting in theater throughout her teens, and made her first film, Irish and Proud of It (1936), when she was 16. Over the next three years she appeared in six more films, briefly interrupting her career at the beginning of World War II to work as an ambulance driver. In 1942, she married actor Jimmy Hanley, with whom she would have two surviving children before they divorced in 1952. While Sheridan continued appearing in films regularly, including Get Cracking (1943) with George Formby, a former music-hall performer who was then the most popular comedian in Britain, she never quite made it to stardom in those years.

In 1953, Sheridan filmed her 23rd movie. None of the four stars had been the producers' initial choice; she had gotten her role only after Claire Bloom declined it. Nonetheless, Genevieve was a huge hit, catapulting Sheridan to "overnight" success. Also starring Kay Kendall , Kenneth More and John Gregson, the story about two couples racing cross country in vintage cars proved one of the most successful films of the year, and is still considered a classic example of British comedy. However, the following year Sheridan married for a second time, to executive John Davis, and at his insistence retired from the screen at the height of her popularity. While the marriage was not successful, it lasted until 1965. (During the divorce proceedings, the judge cut short her successful petition on grounds of cruelty by saying he didn't want to hear the "disgraceful details.") She promptly returned to the stage and to movies, and in 1972 played the mother in the perennially popular film adaptation of Edith Nesbit 's The Railway Children. Sheridan, who had two subsequent successful marriages, made her last onscreen appearance in 1980, in the Agatha Christie mystery The Mirror Crack'd, with Elizabeth Taylor , Rock Hudson, and Kim Novak .

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