Jean Kent (born Joan Mildred Summerfield, 29 June 1921 − 30 November 2013) was an English film and television actress.
Joan Mildred Summerfield
29 June 1921
|Died||30 November 2013 (aged 92)|
(m. 1946; died 1989)
Born Joan Mildred Summerfield in Brixton, London, the only child of variety performers Norman Field (né Summerfield) and Nina Norre, she started her theatrical career in 1931 as a dancer. She used the stage name Jean Carr when she appeared as a chorus girl in the Windmill Theatre in London from which she was fired by Vivian Van Damm.
She signed to Gainsborough Pictures during the Second World War. Kent had small roles in It's That Man Again (1943), Miss London Ltd. (1943) and Warn That Man (1944). Kent had a good role in Two Thousand Women (1944), playing a stripper who is interned by the Germans. She was a Pacific Islander in Bees in Paradise (1944) with Arthur Askey and was the ingenue in a Tommy Trinder musical Champagne Charlie (1944).
The turning point in her career came when she was given a dramatic part in the Gainsborough melodrama film Fanny by Gaslight (1944). She played a part turned down by Margaret Lockwood – the childhood friend of Phyllis Calvert who becomes the mistress of James Mason. The movie, also starring Stewart Granger, was a box-office success in Britain and established Kent as Gainsborough's back up to Margaret Lockwood.
Kent played another sexually aggressive young woman in Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) with Calvert and Granger. It was a big hit. Rank borrowed her to support Rex Harrison in The Rake's Progress (1945) then back at Gainsborough she was in Waterloo Road (1945) with John Mills and Granger.
Kent shared top billing with Granger in Caravan (1946), playing a gypsy girl in another melodrama. It was a big hit and Kent was given a new contract. Granger and Kent were reunited in The Magic Bow (1946), with Kent again taking a part originally meant for Margaret Lockwood.
"There was a pecking order at Gainsborough," said Kent later. "First Margaret, then Pat, then Phyllis, then me. I was the odds-and-sods girl. I used to mop up the parts that other people didn't want."
After a support role in Carnival (1946) with Michael Wilding, Kent was the female lead in The Man Within (1947), a costume adventure from a novel by Graham Greene. Kent had a good part in The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947) and was given a star role in Good-Time Girl (1948), a melodrama about a girl who goes off the rails. Kent was top billed as one of several names in Bond Street (1948) and was the female lead in a thriller Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948), playing a spy.
Kent had her best chance yet playing the lead in a musical Trottie True (1949) which became her favourite film. She made a comedy in Italy, Her Favourite Husband (1950) and appeared opposite Dirk Bogarde in The Woman in Question (1950). In 1950, Kent was voted the 9th biggest British star in Britain. The following year she was 8th. Kent starred in the melodrama The Reluctant Widow (1951) then had a good role as the wife in The Browning Version (1951).
Kent was in a thriller The Lost Hours (1952) with American actor Mark Stevens and Before I Wake (1955). She appeared in Arthur Watkyn's historical play The Moonraker in 1952 and in 1953 was in a play Uncertain Joy. That year she appeared on a TV play with Michael Craig who said she "was on the wane after a successful career as a film star. She didn't like slumming it in television at all and was very grand and one scary lady."
Kent's film appearances grew less frequent from the mid 1950s onward. She had support roles in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) and Bonjour Tristesse (1958) and a good part in the horror film The Haunted Strangler (1959). She was in the comedy Please Turn Over (1959) and the thriller Beyond This Place (1959). She was one of several female stars in Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons (1960) with George Sanders.
Kent was married to Austrian actor Josef Ramart from 1946 until his death in 1989, aged 70. They met on the set of Caravan, in which he also appeared. Actor Stewart Granger, a co-star from this film, was the best man at their wedding. Kent and Ramart also both had roles in the film Trottie True.
She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1974 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Strand Theatre. Kent made her last public appearance in June 2011, when she was honoured by the British Film Institute on her 90th birthday. She was a guest at a screening of Caravan at the BFI Southbank.
Kent died in the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St. Edmunds on 30 November 2013, following a fall at her home in Westhorpe. The coroner recorded a narrative verdict that Kent died from accidental injuries and that cardiac disease may have contributed to a fall.
|1935||Who's Your Father||Mary Radcliffe|
|1939||A Ship in the Bay||Iris|
|1943||It's That Man Again||Kitty|
|1943||Warn That Man||Frances Lane|
|1944||Bees in Paradise||Jani|
|1944||Fanny by Gaslight||Lucy Beckett||AKA, Man of Evil|
|1944||Champagne Charlie||Dolly Bellwood|
|1944||Two Thousand Women||Bridie Johnson|
|1945||Madonna of the Seven Moons||Vittoria|
|1945||The Rake's Progress||Jill Duncan||AKA, Notorious Gentleman|
|1946||The Magic Bow||Bianca|
|1947||The Man Within||Lucy||AKA, The Smugglers|
|1947||The Loves of Joanna Godden||Ellen Godden|
|1948||Good-Time Girl||Gwen Rawlings|
|1948||Bond Street||Ricki Merritt|
|1948||Sleeping Car to Trieste||Valya|
|1949||Trottie True||Trottie True||AKA, The Gay Lady|
|1950||The Reluctant Widow||Helena|
|1950||Her Favourite Husband||Dorothy Pellegrini||AKA, The Taming of Dorothy|
|1950||The Woman in Question||Agnes / Astra||AKA, Five Angles on Murder|
|1951||The Browning Version||Millie Crocker-Harris|
|1952||The Big Frame||Louise Parker|
|1955||Before I Wake||Florence Haddon||AKA, Shadow of Fear|
|1957||The Prince and the Showgirl||Maisie Springfield|
|1958||Bonjour Tristesse||Helen Lombard|
|1958||The Haunted Strangler||Cora Seth|
|1959||Beyond This Place||Louise Burt||AKA, Web of Evidence|
|1959||Please Turn Over||Janet Halliday|
|1960||Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons||Julienne Guillin|
|1976||Shout at the Devil||Mrs. Smythe|
|1947||Cinderella||Prince Charming||TV miniseries|
|1949||Big Ben||Grace Green||TV film|
|1955||London Playhouse||Elsa Carter||Episode: "A Call on the Widow"|
|1956||Theatre Royal||Ada Weston||Episode: "The Lovebirds"|
|1956||Pantomania, or Dick Whittington||Dick Whittington||TV film|
|1956||The Errol Flynn Theatre||Henrietta||Episode: "1000th Night of Don Juan"|
|1956, 1958||Sunday Night Theatre||Polly Tremayne, Jeanne Liron||Episodes: "Morning Star", "The Sulky Fire"|
|1957||The Twelve Pound Look||Lady Sims||TV film|
|1957||ITV Television Playhouse||Alicia Collins||Episode: "Love Her to Death"|
|1958||Web||Rita Carpenter||Episodes: "The Painting", "The Other Warren", "The Gallery"|
|1958||Sword of Freedom||Valeska||Episode: "The Lion and the Mouse"|
|1958||Dick Whittington and His Cat||Dick Whittington||TV film|
|1959||Epilogue to Capricorn||Lady Kerwin||TV series|
|1959, 1962||ITV Play of the Week||Molly, Ariane||Episodes: "The Signal", "Coach 7, Seat 15"|
|1960||Hotel Imperial||Madame Trazini||Episode: "The Leopardess in 424"|
|1961||Debt to a Spy||Madame Sophie||TV short|
|1961–62||Sir Francis Drake||Queen Elizabeth I||Main role|
|1963||Maupassant||Marquise Obardi||Episode: "Yvette"|
|1963, 1965||No Hiding Place||Paula Hudson, Mrs. Black||Episodes: "A Pocketful of Bones", "Rat in a Trap"|
|1963–1965||Emergency – Ward 10||Gillian Blaine||Guest role|
|1964||Love Story||Zoe Slater||Episode: "The Smile on the Face of a Tiger"|
|1964||The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling||Mrs. Threegan||Episodes: "Three: And an Extra", "The Sending of Dana Da", "The Rescue of Pluffles"|
|1966||This Man Craig||Joyce Maitland||Episode: "Period of Adjustment"|
|1966–67||United!||Margie Stringer||Guest role|
|1967||Vanity Fair||Mrs. O'Dowd||Episode: "The Celebrated Battle Scene"|
|1968||Comedy Playhouse||Aggie Plunkett||Episode: "The Family of Fred"|
|1968||Detective||Miss Mayberry||Episode: "The Deadly Climate"|
|1968||The Wednesday Play||Mrs. Da Tanka||Episode: "A Night with Mrs. Da Tanka"|
|1968–69||Thicker Than Water||Aggie Plunkett||TV series|
|1969||The Doctors||Mrs. Randall||Episodes: "1.8", "1.9"|
|1970||ITV Playhouse||Beatrice||Episode: "Brother and Sister"|
|1970||Up Pompeii!||Aphrodite||Episode: "Exodus"|
|1970||Steptoe and Son||Daphne Goodlace||Episode: "Two's Company"|
|1971||Doctor at Large||Mrs. Bentinck||Episode: "Trains & Notes & Veins"|
|1971||A Family at War||Dora Martin||Episode: "Flesh and Blood"|
|1972||Public Eye||Mrs. Podmore||Episode: "Mrs. Podmore's Cat"|
|1974||Thriller||Mrs. Garrick||Episode: "Color Him Dead"|
|1976||Angels||Miss Buckle||Episode: "Legacies"|
|1978||Do You Remember?||Milly Billet||Episode: "Night School"|
|1978||Tycoon||Mary Clark||TV series|
|1980||Time of My Life||Mrs. Wordsworth||Episodes: "1.4", "1.5"|
|1981||Crossroads||Jennifer Lamont||Episode: "1.3543"|
|1985||Lytton's Diary||Margot Shelley||Episode: "The Silly Season"|
|1990||Missing Persons||Phillida Meadowhite||TV film|
|1991||Lovejoy||Madelene Gilbert||Episode: "National Wealth"|
|1991||Shrinks||Charlotte Merrick||Episode: "1.5"|
Box office rankingEdit
For a number of years, British film exhibitors voted her among the top ten British stars at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald.
- John Walker Halliwell's Who's Who of the Movies, London: HarperCollins, 1999, p. 229; ISBN 0-00-255905-6
- "Film star Jean Kent dies at 92". Herald. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "Jean Kent". North-eastern Advertiser. Vol. XXXVIII, no. 5. Tasmania, Australia. 21 January 1947. p. 3. Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Jean Kent plays five women in newest film". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 18, no. 5. 8 July 1950. p. 48. Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Jean Kent: Actress". The Independent. 1 December 2013.
- "Jean Kent". BFI.
- "Bees in Paradise – review | cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times.
- "Champagne Charlie **** (1944, Tommy Trinder, Stanley Holloway, Betty Warren, Austin Trevor, Jean Kent, Guy Middleton, Frederick Piper, Harry Fowler) – Classic Movie Review 7080". 22 May 2018.
- Sweeney, Kevin (17 March 1999). James Mason: A Bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313284960 – via Google Books.
- "With a different hair style for every film, Jean Kent remains the most provocative woman on the screen. MOST POPULAR BRITISH STAR A WICKED LADY". The Argus. No. 32, [?]. Melbourne. 16 November 1951. p. 5 (The Argus Magazine). Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "BRITAIN". The Sun. No. 2191. Sydney. 8 April 1945. p. 3 (Supplement to The SUNDAY SUN). Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "BFI Screenonline: Madonna of the Seven Moons (1944) Credits". www.screenonline.org.uk.
- "BFI Screenonline: Caravan (1946)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
- "Jean Kent Star of "Caravan"". Glen Innes Examiner. New South Wales, Australia. 25 February 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Mell, Eila (24 January 2015). Casting Might-Have-Beens: A Film by Film Directory of Actors Considered for Roles Given to Others. McFarland. ISBN 9781476609768 – via Google Books.
- Sweet, Matthew (2005). Shepperton Babylon : the lost worlds of British cinema. Faber and Faber. pp. 202–203.
- "BFI Screenonline: Good-Time Girl (1948)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
- "Success of British Films." The Times London, England 29 December 1950: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- "Vivien Leigh Actress of the Year". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld. 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Sara Quads' day with a movie star". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 21, no. 16. 16 September 1953. p. 29. Retrieved 29 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Craig, Michael (2005). The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Life. Allen and Unwin. pp. 59–60.
- "Jean kent 'seriously ill'". The New York Times. 16 May 1954. ProQuest 112880919.
- "Jean Kent (1921-2013)". British Film Institute.
- "BFI Screenonline: Sir Francis Drake (1961–62)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
- "Actress Jean Kent dies aged 92". 30 November 2013.
- "FILM CABLE FROM LONDON". The Sunday Times (Western Australia). Perth. 17 March 1946. p. 13 Supplement: The Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 2 February 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
- "This is Your Life (1955-2003) screenshot | Jean Kent, Moira Lister". Silver Sirens. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
- "Actress honoured on 90th birthday". BBC News. 28 June 2011.
- "Jean Kent: Suffolk Gainsborough melodramas actress dies". BBC News. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.