Valerie Hobson
Hobson-valerie 1934.jpg
Hobson in 1934
Babette Louisa Valerie Hobson

(1917-04-14)14 April 1917
Died13 November 1998(1998-11-13) (aged 81)
Years active1932–1954
(m. 1939; div. 1952)
(m. 1954)
Children3, including David Profumo

Babette Louisa Valerie Hobson (14 April 1917 – 13 November 1998)[1] was a British[2] actress whose film career spanned the 1930s to the early 1950s. Her second husband was John Profumo, a British government minister who became the subject of the Profumo affair in 1963.

Early years

Hobson was born at Sandy Bay, Larne, County Antrim, in Ulster. Her father, Robert Gordon Hobson (1877-1940), was a Commander in the Royal Navy, her mother was Violette (c. 1890-1955; née Hamilton-Willoughby).[3][4][5]

Before she was 11 years old, Hobson had begun to study acting and dancing at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.[6]


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In 1935, aged 17, Hobson appeared as Baroness Frankenstein in Bride of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and Colin Clive. She played opposite Henry Hull that same year in Werewolf of London, the first Hollywood werewolf film. The latter half of the 1940s saw Hobson in perhaps her two most memorable roles: as the adult Estella in David Lean's adaptation of Great Expectations (1946), and as the refined and virtuous Edith D'Ascoyne in the black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).[citation needed]

Hobson's last starring role was in the original London production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical play The King and I, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on 8 October 1953. She played Mrs. Anna Leonowens opposite Herbert Lom's King. The show ran for 926 performances.[7]

Personal life

In 1952, Hobson divorced her first husband, film producer Anthony Havelock-Allan (1904–2003). In 1954, she married Brigadier John Profumo (1915–2006), a Member of Parliament (MP), giving up acting shortly afterwards. Profumo was a prominent politician of Italian descent.[citation needed]

After Profumo's ministerial career ended in disgrace in 1963, following revelations he had lied to the House of Commons about his affair with Christine Keeler, Hobson stood by him, and they worked together for charity for the remainder of her life, though she did miss their more public personas.[8]

Hobson's eldest son, Simon Anthony Clerveaux Havelock-Allan, was born in May 1944 with Down's syndrome, and died in January 1991.[9] Her middle child, Mark Havelock-Allan, was born on 4 April 1951 and became a judge. Her youngest child is the author David Profumo (born 16 October 1955), who wrote Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir (2006) about the scandal. In it, he writes that his parents told him nothing of the scandal and he learned of it from another boy at school.[10]

After her death, Hobson's body was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in accordance with her wishes. Half her ashes were interred in the family vault in Hersham. The rest were scattered on 1 January 1999 by her sons David Profumo and Mark Havelock-Allan, near the family's farm in Scotland.[11] Hobson was portrayed by Deborah Grant in the film Scandal (1989), by Joanna Riding in Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical Stephen Ward the Musical, which opened at the Aldwych Theatre on 19 December 2013, and by Emilia Fox in the BBC mini-series The Trial of Christine Keeler in 2019.



  1. ^ Vallance, Tom (16 November 1998). "Obituary: Valerie Hobson". The Independent. London.
  2. ^ "Valerie Hobson | British actress | Britannica".
  3. ^ Heffer, Simon. "Hobson [married names Havelock-Allan, Profumo], (Babette Louisa) Valerie". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/71263. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Hourican, Bridget (2009). "Hobson, Valerie". Dictionary of Irish Biography. doi:10.3318/dib.004040.v1. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  5. ^ Barker, Dennis (16 November 1998). "Star of screen and scandal". The Guardian. England, London. p. 16. Retrieved 25 April 2018 – via open access
  6. ^ Banville, John (14 October 2006). "A family affair". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  7. ^ Stanley Green, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (New York, 1976: Dodd, Mead & Company, Cambridge, Massachusetts: DaCapo Press, 1980), p. 233.
  8. ^ Grice, Elizabeth (2 September 2006). "Son breaks family's 40-year silence on scandal of the Profumo Affair". The Telegraph. London, UK.
  9. ^ "Simon Anthony Henry Havelock-Allan".
  10. ^ "Dingy Quadrilaterals". London Review of Books. 19 October 2006.
  11. ^ Profumo, David (4 September 2006). "Even if the heart bleeds almost to death, passionate love is worth it". The Daily Telegraph. London.(subscription required)