Tuesday 13 November 2012

Happy Birthday Hermione

Born on this day in 1906 was the redoubtable character actress, scene stealer and revue artiste Hermione Baddeley (sister of Angela, namesake and professional rival of Gingold), who has the distinction of having played the shortest role ever nominated for an Oscar - it was as Simone Signoret's best friend in Room at the Top, and it came in at just 2 minutes and 20 seconds. The star of that film, Laurence Harvey - her junior by 20-odd years - was one of Hermione's lovers, and there were two husbands. Her first marriage, to the Hon David Tennant, stalwart of Soho's notorious Gargoyle Club, got off to a shaky start when she turned up at the register office an hour late, by which time the registrar had gone missing. The happy couple moved in to a Wiltshire manor house, which soon became notorious for their wild parties. After divorcing Tennant - who remained the love of her life - Hermione married Captain J.H. 'Dozey' Willis, a decorated Dunkirk veteran, and again things got off to an inauspicious start when most of the wedding presents were stolen from the reception. The marriage didn't last long.
  An animal lover, Hermione Baddeley dedicated her autobiography - by all accounts a characteristic mix of industrial-scale name-dropping and disarming candour - to her dog.

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