If you were an actress in 50s cinema, then life was tough. If you weren't an English Rose type then there were few roles available to you; and if you were, then Virginia McKenna got the best of them.
She was born in London and studied at Central. After a short period in rep, and a couple of West End plays she moved into films and her rise was almost embarrassingly swift. She had a small role in The Cruel Sea; but since this was such a big hit and she was one of the few women in the cast, her career was made.
She showed audiences she could act in A Town Like Alice, which got her a BAFTA. Around this time she divorced Denholm Elliott and married Bill Travers. They would star together in most of their subsequent films. She took a break from her film career in the early sixties to bring up their children.
She returned to the screen in the smash-hit Born Free. This true life tale about returning a lion to the wild stimulated her and Travers' interest in wildlife and they devoted most of their time from this point on to the charity that became the Born Free Foundation.
|1952||The Second Mrs Tanqueray|
|1952||Father's Doing Fine|
|1953||The Cruel Sea|
|1955||The Ship that Died of Shame|
|1956||A Town Like Alice|
|1957||The Barretts of Wimpole Street|
|1957||The Smallest Show on Earth|
|1958||Carve Her name With Pride|
|1959||The Wreak of the Mary Deare|
|1961||One Living, Two Dead|
|1969||Ring of Bright Water|
|1969||An Elephant Called Slowly|
|1974||Swallows and Amazons|
|1982||Blood Link (Ger.)|
Virginia McKenna at Amazon UK
Virginia McKenna at Amazon US