Babette Louisa Valerie Hobson
14 April 1917
|Died||13 November 1998 (aged 81)|
(m. 1939; div. 1952)
|Children||3, including David Profumo|
Babette Louisa Valerie Hobson (14 April 1917 – 13 November 1998) was a British 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.
Hobson was born in Larne, County Antrim, in Ulster. Her father, Robert Gordon Hobson was a captain in the Royal Navy, her mother was Violette (nee Willoughby) Hobson.
Before she was 11 years old, Hobson had begun to study acting and dancing at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In 1935, aged 17, she 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).
In 1952, she 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.
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.
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.
Hobson's eldest son, Simon Anthony Clerveaux Havelock-Allan, was born in May 1944 with Down's syndrome, and died in January 1991. 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 his parents told him nothing of the scandal and that he learned of it from another boy at school.
After her death, Hobson's body was cremated 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. 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.