Rona Anderson

Rona Anderson
Rona Anderson

Rona Anderson was a staple of British B movies of the 1950’s.  She was long ,arried to Gordon Jackson.   She died in 2013.

Her Guardian obituary by Ronald Bergan:

In the 1950s, while watching a second feature before the “big picture” at their local cinema, regular British filmgoers would often have seen Rona Anderson, who has died aged 86. Anderson starred in 20 movies between 1950 and 1958, mostly well-crafted, low-budget thrillers. Opposite such luminaries as Robert Beatty, Jimmy Hanley, John Bentley, Paul Carpenter and Lee Patterson, Anderson was the classy girlfriend who helps the hero solve a murder, usually via a visit to the criminal underground, all within the hour allotted to the film.

According to the Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter, Anderson “had this incredible, porcelain-like face, too beautiful for film … The camera likes angularity, to see the edges, and I think Rona’s face was just too perfect.” Whatever the reason, Anderson made few major movies, though she appeared in many popular television series, such as The Human Jungle (1964), Dr Finlay’s Casebook (1965), Dixon of Dock Green (1966-71) and Bachelor Father (1970-71), and on stage throughout her career. She was also busy in the 1960s, bringing up her two sons with the actor Gordon Jackson, to whom she was married from 1951 until his death in 1990.

For the actor Kenneth Williams, a friend for more than 30 years, the Jacksons were a surrogate family. In an entry in his diary for 8 July 1957, Williams notes: “Gordon & Rona at 7.30 which was as delightful as ever. A sweet most delectable pair whom I enjoy enormously.” Seven years later, the more usually waspish Williams writes: “Went up to see Gordon & Rona. They gave me lunch and I stayed till about five. I had a lovely time. The boys were marvellous. They’re a lovely family.”

Unlike Jackson, for so long the token Scotsman in British war films and action movies, who later found wide fame as the butler Mr Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs, Anderson had a “posh” English accent – obligatory for British leading actors in the 50s – although she was born, raised and educated in Scotland, with a short time as an evacuee in Ottawa, Canada, during the second world war.

Anderson, born in Edinburgh, started acting at an early age, training at the Glover Turner Robertson School in her home town. From 1945 until 1949, she was a member of the Citizens’ theatre, Glasgow. Her first film role was as one of the passengers in the spy thriller Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948). Her second was opposite her future husband in Floodtide (1949), a romantic drama set and shot mainly on Clydeside.

In the episodic Poet’s Pub (1949), Anderson was Joanna, the daughter of obnoxious Professor Benbow (James Robertson Justice), the nemesis of her poet boyfriend, Saturday Keith (Derek Bond). One of her rare A-pictures was Scrooge (1951), with Alastair Sim in the title role. In a tender scene with George Cole as Scrooge’s earlier self, Anderson plays his one true love, telling him that they must part forever because “another idol has replaced me in your heart. A golden idol.”

In the cold war “quota quickie” spy drama Little Red Monkey (1955), Anderson got the chance to play opposite the Hollywood tough guy Richard Conte. After two tepid pictures in the 1960s – The Bay of St Michel (1963), about the search for Nazi loot, and Devils of Darkness (1965), in which Anderson tangles with vampires in Brittany – she had the role of Miss Lockhart, the chemistry teacher, in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), a rival of Maggie Smith’s Miss Brodie for the attention of the music teacher, Mr Lowther, played by Jackson.

From time to time through her career, Anderson returned to the stage. At the 1960 Edinburgh festival, she appeared in the Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith’s epic historical play The Wallace; she was in the first stage production of Brian Clark’s Whose Life Is It Anyway? at the Mermaid theatre, London, in 1978, in a cast headed by Tom Conti and Jane Asher; and in 1981, she played the mother of Diana, princess of Wales in the Ray Cooney comedy Her Royal Highness …? at the Palace theatre, London, with Marc Sinden as Prince Charles.

Anderson is survived by her two sons, Roddy and Graham.

• Rona Anderson, actor, born 3 August 1926; died 23 July 2013

Her Guardian obituary can be accessed on-line here.

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