Westhorpe's 'Gainsborough Lady' Jean Kent, who starred in movies with Marilyn Monroe, Roger Moore and Laurence Olivier, to be given film screening tribute from the British Film Institute
A Westhorpe legend of cinema’s golden age is to be honoured by the British Film Institute, celebrating what would have been her 100th birthday.
Jean Kent, the last of the legendary ‘Gainsborough Ladies’ who dominated British cinema in the 1940s and 1950s, will have a screening of her own favourite film, 1949’s Trottie True, at the National Film Theatre on London’s BFI Southbank, on July 6.
A special introduction about her life and career will also be given by the British Film Institute’s senior curator, Josephine Botting.
Though the actress was born on June 29, 1921, due to Covid, the event will be a week later as screenings at the National Film Theatre will not resume in time.
The actress, born in Brixton, London, first graced the stage as an 18-month-old baby, waving a flag in Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, in Glasgow in 1923.
After changing her name, first to Peggy Summers, and then to Jean Carr, she made her first screen appearance at 13 - saying one line in the 1934 movie, The Rocks of Valpre.
The turning point in Jean’s career came when she appeared at the London Palladium with comedian Max Miller and Dame Vera Lynn in the 1941 revue, Applesauce!
Sticking with the name Jean Kent, she signed a seven-year contract with Gaumont British, making her first Gainsborough film in a cameo role in It’s That Man Again, in 1942.
She went on to to star in another 45 with co-stars including Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, Dirk Bogarde and Roger Moore.
Jean married her husband, Jusuf Ramart, at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, Mayfair, on April 12, 1946, and hundreds of fans gatecrashed the ceremony, and more than a thousand people mobbed the bride and groom as they emerged from the church. The couple were married for 43 years.
Jean’s final stage appearance was in 1995 in Monsieur Amilcar and made her last public appearance at the National Film Theatre in London, on her 90th birthday, in 2011.
Jean died, aged 92, at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, on November 30, 2013.