Kay Hammond

Delightful, sophisticated English actress, daughter of the distinguished thespian Sir Guy Standing. Kay trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and was taught elocution by Mrs. Patrick Campbell. She made her theatrical debut in “Tilly of Bloomsbury” in 1927. Within just a few years, she had established herself as a regular on the West End stage. In 1936, Kay made her first big splash as the flirtatious Diana Lake in Terence Rattigan’s “French Without Tears” (1936) opposite Roland Culver. She then had several roles as leading lady in several minor British features, demonstrating a singular penchant for comedy. However, Kay decided early on to limit her screen appearances in order to further her theatrical career.

Her most celebrated role was that of Elvira Condomine in Noël Coward’s supernatural comedy Blithe Spirit (1945), a part she originated in the 1941 stage version at London’s Piccadilly Theatre to rave reviews. Kay was irresistibly alluring (even in ghostly make-up and green hair) and thoroughly likeable as the mischievous spirit of novelist Charles’s (Rex Harrison’s) deceased first wife, accidentally summoned during a seance by crusty medium Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) and intent on wreaking havoc on her husband’s second marriage.

There was precious little of Kay on screen after ‘Blithe Spirit’. Following her marriage to the actor John Clements, she appeared for a while with the Chichester Festival Theatre, often partnering with her husband on stage. Their last joint performance was in “The Marriage Go-Round” in 1959 at the Piccadilly Theatre. Sadly, a deteriorating heart condition forced her premature retirement from acting and she spent the last few years of her life confined to a wheelchair.

Related Posts