Margaret Lockwood

Dark beauty, Margaret Lockwood
Queen of the British melodrama, vintage actress Margaret Lockwood was born in exotic Karachi in what was then British India - the daughter of an English Administrator father and an Irish mother. However, the young Margaret spent only the first three and a half years of her life in India, having moved to London's Upper Norwood with her mother and brother in 1919.

Her luscious dark hair and dramatic, smoldering looks made her the perfect romantic foil for the type of steamy potboilers and period romances that were popular in the 1940s.

After training at RADA and some stage work, Lockwood's first significant foray into screen acting was in 1935, playing a supporting role in Basil Dean's, Lorna Doone, alongside John Loder and Victoria Hopper. However it was her appearance with Micheal Redgrave in the title role of  Alfred Hitchcock's The lady Vanishes, four years later, that propelled her to British stardom. The film was a big success, not just for Lockwood, as it also provided Hitchcock with  the necessary impetus to make the move to Hollywood.

As the 1940s dawned so too did Margaret Lockwood's association with Gainsborough Pictures, a company which specialised in 'morally ambivalent' costume dramas. It was a lucrative connection that would see her image shift from demure and sultry romantic heroine to professional  femme fatale and a succession of roles in which she played the beautiful but lethal villainous heartbreaker followed. Her role as poison-lipped, ruthless seductress Esther in the first of the Gainsborough Pictures melodramas, The Man in Grey (1943) with another Gainsborough star, James Mason, cemented her cache as a box-office draw and highly watchable bitch.

The Wicked Lady
In 1945 Lockwood took on what would become her most iconic role in Gainsborough's The Wicked Lady. At the time of its release,  the film was considered risque and a daring role for her to take on, given the lewdly sensational subject matter. Lockwood played a nobleman's wife (she had stolen her best friends fiance) who feels a sense of titillating intoxication by cavorting with a highwayman on the sly. In spite of the controversy, or more likely because of it, the film was a runaway success and one of the biggest box-office grosses of the period. Moreover it skyrocketed Lockwood to *most popular actress in England* status. It seems it occasionally pays to be wicked.

Gainsborough stars, Margaret Lockwood and the wickedly attractive James Mason enjoying an embrace in The Wicked Lady
 At the close of the decade, Lockwood returned to the stage to star in some classic roles-notably Noel Coward's Private Lives (1949), which was another resounding success for the actress. In the decades that followed, she also starred in a production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (1951) at the Edinburgh Festival and played the mischievous Mrs Chevely in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965/66). More West End hits followed in the 70s, including some Agatha Christie thrillers,  as well as a TV series, Justice, which co-starred her real life partner ,John Stone.

Lockwood's final stage appearance was as Queen Alexandra in Royce Ryton's Motherdear. The actress died at 73 in 1990, from cirroshis of the liver, leaving behind a daughter, Julia, from an earlier marriage to Rupert Leon, as well as an enviable  reputation as a memorable, iconic figure of  British film and stage.

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