Maureen Swanson
Maureen Swanson

(1932-11-25)25 November 1932
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died18 November 2011(2011-11-18) (aged 78)
Other namesMaureen Ward, Countess of Dudley
Alma materSadler’s Wells Ballet School
Years active1952–1961
SpouseWilliam Ward, 4th Earl of Dudley

Maureen Ward, Countess of Dudley (25 November 1932 – 16 November 2011), was a British actress. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Lady Dudley was the daughter of James Swanson. As Maureen Swanson, she featured in British pictures during the 1950s and retired from acting in 1961, following her marriage to Viscount Ednam.[citation needed]

Early life and career

Maureen Swanson was born in Glasgow on 25 November 1932. After her parents emigrated to South Africa, she became a ward of Lady Phyllis Griffith-Boscawen. Swanson initially trained as a classical ballerina at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School, before moving into musical theatre and film.

Swanson had a role in Moulin Rouge (1952), then a larger part in Valley of Song (1953). She had a strong support role in MGM's Knights of the Round Table (1953), and was the female lead in Hammer's film noir Third Party Risk (1954). Swanson was also in episodes of The Vise, and had a supporting part in Orders Are Orders (1955).

Rank Organisation

Swanson was signed to a long-term contract by the Rank Organisation, who put her in support roles in A Town Like Alice (1956) and Jacqueline (1956). She was Norman Wisdom's leading lady in Up in the World (1956), and Dirk Bogarde's leading lady in The Spanish Gardener (1956).

Swanson was the female lead in Robbery Under Arms (1957). She then appeared on television in The Happiest Millionaire and a version of The Importance of Being Earnest. In October 1956, John Davis, managing director of Rank, announced her as one of the actors under contract that Davis thought would become an international star.[1]

Marriage and children

She married Viscount Ednam on 24 August 1961 at Amersham registry office. She was his second wife. Initially titled Viscountess Ednam, she was styled as the Countess of Dudley on 26 December 1969, following her husband's succession to the earldom.

They had seven children:

Later life

As the Countess of Dudley, she managed the couple's homes in Cottesmore Gardens, Kensington, London and Devon. She also served as a lady in waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.

The Countess died on 16 November 2011 and was laid to rest in the private burial ground of the Earls of Dudley at the rear of the parish church at Himley.



Libel case

In a 1989 libel case, Lady Dudley testified that she had an affair in the early 1950s with Stephen Ward,[2] the osteopath and artist who was one of the central figures in the 1963 Profumo affair. They became friends when he was commissioned to draw her portrait in 1953 – 10 years before the Profumo scandal. From the 1989 court case, Lady Dudley won "substantial" damages from the publishers of Honeytrap: the Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward by Anthony Summer and Stephen Dorril, in which the authors suggested that she had been one of the "popsies" whom Ward had procured for his influential friends.[2] In 2002, the Countess of Dudley again accepted substantial libel damages from the publishers of Christine Keeler: The Truth At Last, Keeler's own account of the events surrounding her notorious affair with the former war minister John Profumo, in which she referred to Lady Dudley as having been "one of Stephen's girls".[2]


  1. ^ Wiseman, Thomas (22 November 1956). "Mr Davis Takes on Hollywood". Nottingham Evening Post. p. 9.
  2. ^ a b c Obituary: The Countess of Dudley, Daily Telegraph, 26 November 2011