January 2, 2017


Anna Lee (1913-2004) b. Igtham, Kent, England.

Anna Lee

Born Joan Boniface Winnifrith, the daughter of a clergyman, Anna Lee ran away from home at the age of fourteen to join a circus. She studied drama at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art and gained brief stage experience before she began appearing in British “quota quickies” in 1932. First as an extra, then playing supporting roles and leads she was signed to Gaumont-British in 1935. Her first film for G-B was the morality tale The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935), in which she was one of the more sympathetic tenants in a London boarding house.

She married director Robert Stevenson in 1933 and played standard leading lady roles in several of his films, including The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936) and King Solomon’s Mines (1937). In 1940, director Lewis Milestone was looking for an actress to co-star in My Life with Caroline (1941) and had been impressed by Lee’s performance in the comedy Young Man’s Fancy (1939). She subsequently moved to Hollywood with Stevenson and began making films there. In 1981 a car accident left her paralysed from the waist down, yet continued performing in a wheelchair. She was awarded an M.B.E. in 1982 after raising money to preserve the White Cliffs at Dover and Ightham Mote.

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