Valerie Hobson

Active - 1933 - 1954  |   Born - Apr 14, 1917   |   Died - Nov 13, 1998   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

British actress Valerie Hobson had barely begun her studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts when, at 16, she was discovered for the movies. In 1934, Hobson was signed to a Hollywood contract by Universal pictures, where for a frustrating 12 months she served as a Fay Wray substitute in roles calling for wide-eyed terror and little else. During this period, she played the title role in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) -- not the monstrosity portrayed by Elsa Lanchester, of course, but the imperiled missus of Colin Clive -- and was equally unhappily married to "The Werewolf of London" in the picture of the same name. Returning to the British film industry in 1936, Hobson developed into one of the most popular and versatile leading ladies in the business. She was a delightful "Nora Charles" type in the 1938 murder mystery This Man is News (1938), and was both sexy and resourceful opposite Conrad Veidt in a brace of espionage thrillers, The Spy in Black (1939) and Contraband (1940). Hobson was seen at her best in her postwar films, notably as the demure lady love of homicidal Dennis Price in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), the selfish mother of John Howard Davies in The Rocking Horse Winner (1950), and the screwball "professional guest" in the "Ways and Means" episode of the Noel Coward omnibus Tonight at 8:30 (1952). In 1946, Hobson offered an exquisite performance as Estella in David Lean's adaptation of Dickens' Great Expectations; ironically, she had played a smaller role in the 1934 Universal version of the same Dickens novel, but her part had wound up on the cutting room floor. Previously wed to producer Anthony Havelock-Allen, Hobson retired from films in 1954 to marry future British Minister of War John Profumo. Valerie Hobson was reluctantly thrust back into the public eye during the Christine Keeler sex scandal of 1963, faithfully and courageously standing by her disgraced husband as Profumo and several other members of the British cabinet were forced to resign.

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