Edana Romney

Last updated
Edana Romney
Edana Romney.jpg
Publicity still for Corridor of Mirrors (1948)
Born(1919-03-15)15 March 1919
Died17 December 2002(2002-12-17) (aged 83)
Other namesEdna Rubenstein
OccupationActress, Writer

Edana Romney (15 March 1919 – 17 December 2002) was a South African actress, writer, and television presenter, based in London and later in Southern California.


Early life and career

Born as Edna Rubenstein in Johannesburg, Edana Romney was of Jewish ancestry, her paternal grandfather being an Irish Jew who had emigrated to South Africa. Romney trained as a dancer from an early age and made her performing debut in Johannesburg in 1930, the year she turned eleven. Relocating to London, Romney - then 14 - successfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), claiming to be the eligibility age of 16, and won a scholarship to study at RADA in 1935 and 1936. [1]

After leaving RADA, Romney acted mostly in UK regional theatre productions, including the Prince's Theatre, Bristol production of the Matheson Lang play The Matador in 1936. She appeared in the West End production of James Bridie's Tobias and the Angel at St Martin's Theatre in 1938. In the same year she performed in the Regent's Park Open Air productions of Tobias and the Angel and as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream .

The first of Romney's occasional screen acting roles was a reprise of her theatrical role in a 1939 BBC Television version of Tobias and the Angel. [2] She made her feature film debut in East of Piccadilly (1941), playing the small but pivotal role of the victim murdered in the film's opening sequence.

Corridor of Mirrors and subsequent career

Although her second film role, in Alibi (1942), was only incidental, Romney formed a production company with the film's screenwriter Rudolph Cartier. [3] The partnership acquired the rights to the 1941 Chris Massey novel Corridor of Mirrors for which Cartier and Romney co-wrote a screenplay which they sought to have filmed with Romney as lead actress - a project which would take almost seven years to come to fruition. According to Romney, several film studios wished to purchase the screenplay but were not interested in Romney as star. [4] It was also the intention of Cartier and Romney that Cartier would direct the film.

Corridor of Mirrors was eventually shot in 1947 after Cartier and Romney financed a showreel of Romney in scenes planned for the film, which lured top matinee idol Eric Portman onboard the production to act as Romney's leading man. [5] Corridor of Mirrors saw the directorial debut of Terence Young - Cartier being disqualified as director due to trade union objections - and the film was released in 1948 to reasonable critical and commercial success.

In November 1949, it was announced that Romney would again star in a film for which she wrote the screenplay, Romney being set to play French tragedienne Rachel in a biopic entitled The Magnificent Upstart to be directed by William Dieterle who had helmed the box office hit Love Letters (1945) adapted from the Chris Massey novel Pity My Simplicity. However, the Rachel biopic was never made, and Romney's acting career after Corridor of Mirrors comprised only four television roles in the 1950s. Two of these were Sunday Night Theatre episodes for the BBC directed by Rudolph Cartier, with Romney playing the leads in the series' versions of That Lady in 1954 and Dark Victory in 1956. [6]

Romney appeared regularly as a television personality: she presented Is This Your Problem? (1955-1957), [7] a BBC panel discussion programme about "delicate" women's issues, such as unexpected pregnancy and unhappiness as housewives. [8] She also wrote a weekly newspaper advice column as a tie-in to the television show. She also hosted a radio show, "Edana Romney's World" and gave talks at women's groups based on her role as a "lovelorn counselor". [9]

Personal life

In 1946, Romney became the second wife of the film producer John Woolf; [10] the couple divorced in 1955. By the 1960s, Romney had relocated to California and was established as a high-profile Beverly Hills hostess living at John Barrymore's one-time mansion "The Hacienda", where her "Twelfth Night" parties were of especial note. [11] Edana Romney died in 2002, aged 83, in Santa Maria, California. There is a collection of her papers archived at the University of Southern California. [1]

Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

Wendy Hiller English film and stage actress

Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller, was an English film and stage actress who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation Rating the Movie Stars, described her as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took command of the screen whenever she appeared on film". Despite many notable film performances, she chose to remain primarily a stage actress.

Anna Massey English actress

Anna Raymond Massey was an English actress. She won a BAFTA Award for the role of Edith Hope in the 1986 TV adaptation of Anita Brookner's novel Hotel du Lac, a role that one of her co-stars, Julia McKenzie, has said "could have been written for her".

Jessie Wallace English actress

Karen Jane Wallace, known professionally as Jessie Wallace, is an English actress. She is known for portraying the role of Kat Slater in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, which she has played from 2000 to 2005, 2010 to 2016 and from 2018 onwards. Her role as Kat won her the National Television Awards for Most Popular Newcomer (2001) and also won the British Soap Awards Best Newcomer (2001) and Most Popular Actress (2003), and the British Soap Award for Best Actress (2011). She was also nominated for the 2011 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Pat Phoenix in the BBC Four drama The Road to Coronation Street.

Rudolph Cartier Austrian television director

Rudolph Cartier was an Austrian television director, filmmaker, screenwriter and producer who worked predominantly in British television, exclusively for the BBC. He is best known for his 1950s collaborations with screenwriter Nigel Kneale, most notably the Quatermass serials and their 1954 adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Yvonne Mitchell

Yvonne Mitchell was an English stage, television and film actress. After beginning her acting career in theatre, Mitchell progressed to films in the late 1940s. Her roles include Julia in the 1954 BBC adaptation of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. She retired from acting in 1977.

Imelda Staunton English actress and singer

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton, is an English actress and singer. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Staunton began her career in repertory theatre in the 1970s before appearing in various theatre productions in the United Kingdom.

Dinah Sheridan

Dinah Sheridan was an English actress with a career spanning seven decades. She was best known for the films Genevieve (1953) and The Railway Children (1970); the long-running BBC comedy series Don't Wait Up (1983–90); and for her distinguished theatre career in London's West End.

Dame Eileen June Atkins, is an English actress and occasional screenwriter. She has worked in the theatre, film, and television consistently since 1953. In 2008, she won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress and the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Cranford. She is also a three-time Olivier Award winner, winning Best Supporting Performance in 1988 and Best Actress for The Unexpected Man (1999) and Honour (2004). She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1990 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2001.

Michael Roy Kitchen is an English actor and television producer, best known for his role as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle in the ITV drama series Foyle's War between 2002 and 2015. He also played the role of Bill Tanner in two James Bond films, and that of John Farrow in BBC Four's comedy series Brian Pern.

Judy Parfitt British actress

Judy Catherine Claire Parfitt is an English theatre, film and television actress. She made her film debut in a minor supporting part in Information Received (1961), followed by supporting role in the BBC television serial David Copperfield (1966). She also appeared as Queen Gertrude in Tony Richardson's 1969 film adaptation of Hamlet.

Polly James is an English actress with a career in theatre, film, television and radio.

Nicola Pagett is a British actress. She is known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy in the 1970s TV drama series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–73). Her film appearances include Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Operation Daybreak (1975), and An Awfully Big Adventure (1995).

Julia McKenzie English actress, presenter, director, writer

Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie, is an English actress, singer, presenter, and theatre director. She has premièred leading roles written by both Alan Ayckbourn and Stephen Sondheim. On television, she is known for her BAFTA Award nominated role as Hester Fields in the sitcom Fresh Fields (1984–1986) and its sequel French Fields (1989–1991), and as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's Marple (2009–2013).

Fenella Woolgar is an English film, theatre, television and radio actress. She is known for her roles in the films Bright Young Things (2003) and Judy (2019).

Rachel Pickup is an American/British theatre, television and film actress. Her first major role was the leading role of Kaye Bentley in the 10-part BBC TV series No Bananas, with Alison Steadman and Tom Bell. She has gone on to appear in many British and American TV shows and has worked extensively in theatre, playing most of the major Shakespearean heroines. Most recently, she played Portia in The Merchant Of Venice at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, opposite Jonathan Pryce.

Mavis Villiers Australian actress

Mavis Villiers was an Australian-born British actress of stage, film and television. Her parents were John Cooney and Clara Smythe. Her brother, Cecil Cooney, was a camera operator and cinematographer. Her stage name, Villiers, was taken from her maternal grandfather.

<i>Alibi</i> (1942 film) 1942 film

Alibi is a 1942 British mystery film directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Hugh Sinclair. It was based on the novel L'Alibi by Marcel Achard.

Jessica Rose Brown Findlay is an English actress. She played Lady Sybil Crawley in the ITV television period drama series Downton Abbey and Emilia Conan Doyle in the 2011 British comedy-drama feature film Albatross.

<i>Corridor of Mirrors</i> (film)

Corridor of Mirrors is a 1948 British drama film directed by Terence Young and starring Eric Portman, Edana Romney and Barbara Mullen. It was based on a novel by Chris Massie and featured the film debut of both Terence Young and Christopher Lee.

<i>Vita & Virginia</i> 2018 film by Chanya Button

Vita & Virginia is a 2018 biographical romantic drama film directed by Chanya Button. The screenplay, written by Button and Eileen Atkins, is adapted from the 1992 play Vita & Virginia by Atkins. The film stars Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, and Isabella Rossellini. Set in the 1920s, Vita & Virginia tells the story of the love affair between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.


  1. 1 2 Sue Luftschein, "Finding aid for the Edana Romney papers" USC Libraries Special Collections.
  2. "Edana Romney". BBC.
  3. "East of Piccadilly (1941) - Harold Huth | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  4. Bluefield [West Virginia] Daily Telegraph 8 June 1948 p. 4
  5. Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller, The Christopher Lee Filmography (McFarland 2004): 5-7. ISBN   9780786446919
  6. "Edana Romney". BFI.
  7. "Is This Your Problem?" BBC Television (26 April 1956).
  8. Su Holmes, Entertaining Television: The BBC and Popular Television Culture in the 1950s (Oxford University Press 2008): 128. ISBN   9780719077913
  9. "Lovelorn Counselor to Address Officers' Wives" San Bernardino County Sun (6 November 1966): 52. via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  10. Tom Vallance, "Obituary: Sir John Woolf" Independent (30 June 1999)
  11. "Dorothy Manners' Hollywood" Evening Herald (17 January 1977): 10. via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg