Kay Kendall

Active - 1944 - 1960  |   Born - May 21, 1926   |   Died - Sep 6, 1959   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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The granddaughter of musical comedy star Marie Kendall, daughter of vaudevillian Terry Kendall, British actress Kay Kendall prepared for her own career by studying ballet. Her earliest professional engagement was a music-hall tour in an act with her sister Kim. She made her film bow in the notorious British flop London Town (1944). After this disastrous movie debut, Kendall was abruptly told off by one powerful British producer: "You're ugly, you have no talent, you're too tall and you photograph badly. Go marry some nice man, settle down and have a family." Refusing to listen to the dreadful man, Kendall went back to Square One with regional repertory work. As for her "ugliness," Kendall's principal claim to fame was her stunning natural beauty -- so stunning that virtually every man who crossed her path proposed marriage on the spot (or seriously considered doing so). Though unusually tall for a leading lady (5'9"), few male stars exhibited any qualms about acting opposite the delightful Kendall. She made her film comeback with a choice comedy role in Genevieve (1953), which secured her subsequent superstardom in films like Les Girls and The Reluctant Debutante. She married actor Rex Harrison in 1957; according to legend, he knew that she was dying of leukemia, but kept her from finding out. Kay Kendall succumbed to her illness at 33, shortly after co-starring with Yul Brynner in Once More With Feeling (1960).

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