Hermione Youlanda Ruby Clinton-Baddeley
13 November 1906
|Died||19 August 1986 (aged 79)|
(m. 1928; div. 1937)
John Henry Willis
(m. 1940; div. 1946)
|Children||2, including Pauline Tennant|
Hermione Youlanda Ruby Clinton-Baddeley (13 November 1906 – 19 August 1986) was an English actress of theatre, film and television. She typically played brash, vulgar characters, often referred to as "brassy" or "blowsy". She found her milieu in revue, in which she played from the 1930s to the 1950s, co-starring several times with the English actress Hermione Gingold.
Baddeley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Room at the Top (1959) and a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore in 1963. She portrayed Mrs Cratchit in the 1951 film Scrooge and Ellen the maid in the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. She voiced Madame Adelaide Bonfamille in the 1970 Disney animated film, The Aristocats. In 1975, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series for her portrayal of Nell Naugatuck on the TV series Maude.
Baddeley was born in Broseley, Shropshire, to W.H. Clinton-Baddeley and Louise Bourdin who was French. Baddeley was a descendant of British American War of Independence General Sir Henry Clinton. Her elder sister, Angela Baddeley, was also an actress. Her half-brother, William Baddeley, was a Church of England clergyman who became Dean of Brisbane and Rural Dean of Westminster.
An early stage appearance came in 1923 when she appeared in Charles McEvoy's play The Likes of Her in London's West End.
Baddeley was known for supporting performances in such films as Passport to Pimlico (1949), Tom Brown's Schooldays and Scrooge (both 1951), The Pickwick Papers (1952), The Belles of St Trinian's (1954), Mary Poppins (as Ellen, the maidservant), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (both 1964), although she first began making films back in the 1920s. One of her more important roles was in Brighton Rock (1947), in which she played Ida, one of the main characters, whose personal investigation into the disappearance of a friend threatens the anti-hero Pinkie.
She also had a stage career. She had a long professional relationship with Noël Coward, appearing in many of his plays throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The most successful was her teaming with Hermione Gingold in Coward's comedy Fallen Angels, though the two women were reportedly "no longer on speaking terms" by the end of the run.
Baddeley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Simone Signoret's best friend in Jack Clayton's Room at the Top (1959). With 2 minutes and 19 seconds of screen time, her role is the shortest ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. In 1960 she played prostitute Doll Tearsheet in the BBC's series of Shakespeare history plays An Age of Kings, acting alongside her sister Angela as Mistress Quickly. In 1963, she was nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore.
She was known to American audiences for roles in Bewitched, The Cara Williams Show, Camp Runamuck, Batman, Wonder Woman, $weepstake$, Little House on the Prairie, and Maude (playing the title character's second housekeeper, Nell Naugatuck). Toward the end of her career, Baddeley was also a voice-over actress, including roles in The Aristocats (1970) and The Secret of NIMH (1982).
In 1928 Baddeley married English aristocrat and socialite David Tennant (third son of Edward Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner). She arrived an hour late for the wedding, having misremembered the time booked for the ceremony. They rented Teffont Evias Manor, which became known for their boisterous parties (including mixed naked bathing in the goldfish pond). She had a daughter, Pauline Laetitia Tennant (born 6 February 1927 – died 6 December 2008); the couple divorced in 1937.
In 1940 Baddeley married Major John Henry ("Dozey") Willis, of the 12th Lancers, son of Major-General Edward Willis, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. They divorced in 1946. She had a relatively brief relationship with actor Laurence Harvey, a man 22 years her junior. Although Harvey proposed marriage to her, Baddeley thought the age difference was too great and declined.
Baddeley was known for her devotion to animals. She dedicated her autobiography, The Unsinkable Hermione Baddeley, to her pet dog. She continued to work in film and television until shortly before the end of her life.
She died following a series of strokes on 19 August 1986, aged 79, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her remains were returned to the United Kingdom. She was survived by two children, Pauline Tennant and David, from her first marriage.
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