January 2, 2017


Kay Walsh (1914-2005) b. London, England.

Kay Walsh

Born Kathleen Walsh in London, England, blonde actress Kay Walsh started out in show business as a dancer in the West End music halls. She quickly made her film debut playing Mary Vivien in Get Your Man (1934) and became the resourceful lead of a dozen or so 30s comedies, including George Formby’s co-star twice in Keep Fit (1937) and 1 See Ice! (1938). She met then film editor David Lean in 1936 and the couple married in 1940 (they divorced in 1949). She appeared in two of Lean’s co-directed Noel Coward adaptations; playing Freda Lewis in In Which We Serve (1942) and Queenie Gibbons in This Happy Breed (1944), she also starred in the role of Nancy in Lean’s Oliver Twist (1948).

By the 1950s she moved into rewarding character roles including the housekeeper in Last Holiday (1950), the scheming maid who attempts blackmail in Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950), the music hall partner in the `Red Peppers’ segment of Meet Me Tonight (1952) and the tireless and tiring spinster enjoying a `Winter Cruise’ in Encore (1951). During the twilight years of Ealing Studios she appeared as a mother in both The Magnet (1950) and The Rainbow Jacket (1954), also as the vicar’s tempted wife in Lease of Life (1954). In 1958 Walsh was occupied in her favourite role: that of the old pub barmaid, Miss Coker, in the offbeat comedy Ronald Neame’s The Horse’s Mouth (1958) with Alec Guinness.

Early during the 1960s Kay was reunited with director Ronald Neame and actor Alec Guinness for the military character study Tunes of Glory (1960). During the remainder of the decade she appeared in two Val Guest productions; the health scare drama 80,000 Suspects (1963) and The Beauty Jungle (1964). She continued working actively in films up until Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class (1972). After playing the part of Jane Alexander’s mother in Night Crossing (1981), she decided to retire.

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