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Overview for Kay Kendall
Kay Kendall

Kay Kendall

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The Reluctant... Angela Lansbury, Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall. The aristocratic Broadbents prepare... more info $15.96was $19.99 Buy Now

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Also Known As: Kay Justine Kendall Mccarthy Died: September 6, 1959
Born: May 21, 1926 Cause of Death: leukemia
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: Cast ... actor
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BIOGRAPHY

Effervescent British leading lady of the 1950s who epitomized screwball elegance in a handful of films, most unworthy of her talents. Kendall was born into a theatrical environment, her grandmother Marie had been a music hall great and other members of her family were also performers. She and her sister Kim formed an act during WWII, and Kendall began appearing in film and television productions in the late 1940s. After one disaster ("London Town," 1946), she worked her way up in supporting parts, including "Lady Godiva Rides Again" (1951), "It Started in Paradise" (1952), and her first big break, "Genevieve" (1953), in which her character tussled with a huge dog named Suzy and displayed unexpected talent as a trumpeter.

Few of her British-made films were memorable, but Kendall shone in all of them: "Doctor in the House" and "The Constant Husband" (both 1954), "Abdullah the Great" (1955) and "The Adventures of Quentin Durward" and "Simon and Laura" (both 1956). She was whisked off to MGM to add her sparkle to the Gene Kelly musical "Les Girls" (1957).

By this time, Kendall was diagnosed with myloid leukemia and given two years to live. Her fiance Rex Harrison never told her the prognosis, obtained a divorce from wife Lili Palmer and married Kendall in 1957. She cut back on her film work to accompany Harrison on his "My Fair Lady" and "Bell, Book and Candle" tours, appearing in only two more films, the arch society comedy "The Reluctant Debutante" (1958) and "Once More with Feeling" (1960). Harrison also directed her in a play, "The Bright One," in 1958. Kendall died at the London Clinic in 1959, while making plans to shoot a television show. She was 32 years old.

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