Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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The Life Story of
Picture Show, July 24th, 1948
Had Valerie Hobson's earliest ambition been realised, she would by now have been famous in a sphere other than acting. Born on April 14th, 1917, in Larne, Ireland, [Now County Antrim, Northern Ireland] of English parents, her father was a Naval officer - she demonstrated at a very youthful age a marked aptitude for dancing. She was only a two-year old baby when she won her first dancing prize, and she startled her parents by announcing, at the ripe old age of seven, that she intended to be a prima ballerina!
She was sent to school in London, and enrolled as a dancing student under the famous ballet teacher, Espinosa, with whom she studied for two years.
When Valerie was ten years old a visit to the dentist proved to be an important day in her life. When the visit was over she persuaded her nannie to take her to see the outside of a famous London theatre. As it happened, C.B. Cochran was holding an audition for one of his shows, and Valerie slipped away from her nannie and joined the line of older girls who were applying for a dancing role in the show. Mr. Cochran was enormously impressed by the talent and self-posession of the little girl but he was unable to let her appear in the production because she was too young. Valerie was broken-hearted, but there were compensations, for Mr. Cochran persuaded her parents to send her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Not long after that Valerie caught scarlet fever, and during the long days in bed gained two inches. Unfortunately, in so doing, she outgrew her strength and was forced to abandon her idea of a dancing career. Bitterly disappointed for a while, she took herself in hand, recovered her normal high spirits and set about learning to be an actress with the same determination she had used to study dancing. When she returned to the R.A.D.A., she was just about the hardest working student in that whole establishment of young enthusiasts.
Hearing that Basil Foster, actor-manager, was casting for his show "Orders is Orders", Valerie went along to the audition. She must have given an unusually good performance because she was chosen out of many others and engaged for the ingenue lead. Then Basil Foster discovered that his new leading lady was only fourteen! So once again she lost her chance through extreme youth. She was, however, allowed to understudy the part, and later on, she did actually play it for six weeks.
In 1933, Valerie played the role of Gracie in "Ball at the Savoy" at Drury Lane Theatre, a small part which was specially written into the show for her by Oscar Hammerstein II, and one which gave her the opportunity to do a little singing and dancing as well as acting. She shone so brightly in this role that she was offered her first film engagement.
When she was seventeen Valerie was given a contract by Universal Pictures in Hollywood, who featured her in several successful thrillers. [Such as Bride of Frankenstein (1935). However it is rumoured that she was also in Powell's film His Lordship (1932) before she went to Hollywood] After that, she began to feel homesick for the cool green of England, and she returned home to resume her stellar career in British pictures. One of the films she made then was Jump For Glory, and when Alexander Korda saw this he signed Valerie to a London Films contract under which she made The Drum. Her next film was This Man is News, which was, at the time, something quite different in the way of a British picture; and it was an outstanding success. During the making of it, Valerie and the producer Anthony Havelock-Allen, became engaged. They were married at St. George's, Hannover Square, London, on April 12th, 1939, and planend a long continental honeymoon for later in the year. This was made impossible by the outbreak of war. Actually they have not yet had it!
In 1939 Valerie starred with Ralph Richardson in Q Planes, with Conrad Veidt in The Spy in Black, and in This Man in Paris. In 1940 she was seen in The Silent Battle and Contraband; in 1941 in Atlantic Ferry; in 1942 in Unpublished Story; in 1943 in Adventures of Tartu; in 1946 in The Years Between; in 1947 in Great Expectations; and this year she has been seen in a reissue of Great Expectations and in Blanche Fury. The two last named were both produced by her husband, Anthony Havelock-Allan.
Now Valerie is starring in The Small Voice, Mr. Havelock-Allan's first picture as an independent producer, being made by the company he recently organised, Constellation Films.
Valerie and her husband are the parents of a son, Simon Anthony Clerveaux, who was born in May, 1944, and of whom they are tremendously proud. Their home life is divided between a flat in Mayfair and a country house in Buckinghamshire.
In her spare time, Valerie paints, embroders and adds to her stamp collection. She likes to fish and to go and see as many films and plays as possible. She is still especially fond of dancing. She is five feet six inches tall and has dark grey eyes and light brown hair with red glints.