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Big screen stars in our cinemas – in the flesh

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

By Gavin Jones

  • Margaret Lockwood in 1948

  • Anne Crawford, who died tragically young at 35

  • Margaret Lockwood at Dudley's Regent, 1948.

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ANNE Crawford has been identified by several readers as the mystery blonde screen star pictured at a Dudley cinema – see page 25 of our 20 February edition.

But Tividale reader Roy Langford has been in touch to tell us more about her, and to put a very precise date on her appearance in the town.

"I have some of Blocksidge's old Dudley Almanacs," Roy told us, "and one, dating from 1949, mentions that Anne Crawford made an appearance at the Regent Cinema, Dudley, on 7 December 1948. The man second from left in the picture, who I've been able to identify from another picture taken at the cinema, was the cinema manager Mr W.H. Greaves, as the article had suggested might be the case."

Roy has also supplied some brief biographical details of Anne Crawford. Born in 1920, in Haifa (now in Israel), her dame was orignally Imelda Crawford, and she died tragically young, of leukaemia, at just 35 years old.

Described in film biographies as 'a well-bred blonde with a sense of humour', she starred in the following films:

They Flew Alone, The Peterville Diamond, The Dark Tower, Millions Like Us, The Night Invader, Headline, The £100 Window, 20,000 Women, They Were Sisters, Caravan, Bedelia, Master of Bankdam, Daughter of Darkness, Night Beat, The Blind Goddess, It's Hard to be Good, Tony Draws a Horse, Trio, Street Corner, Knights of the Round Table, and Mad About Men.

Anne Crawford wasn't the only screen star to visited the Regent that year. At the very beginning of 1948, on New Year's Day in fact, Margaret Lockwood had made a personal appearance at that High Street cinema, and Roy Langford has supplied us with photographs which appeared in that same 1949 Blocksidge's Almanac.

"It's rather perturbing now," says Roy, "to realise that I actually remember these photos first being printed in the old Dudley Herald newspaper all those years ago. They caught my eye then because as a young lad I knew the lady cinema usherette (second on the left, facing Miss Lockwood) and If my memory serves me well, I believe her name was Sylvia Latham, and that she was from John Street, Dudley.

"For us young, impressionable kids from around that area, she became a bit of a celebrity herself, through having her photograph taken with one of the most famous screen godesses of the pre- and post-war period of British film-making."

Margaret Lockwood was most famous for her roles in the so-called 'Gainsborough' films; British melodramas which were extremely popular in the immediate post-war years. She starred alongside Anne Crawford in several such pictures, but was most famous for her roles in the likes of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, Love Story (opposite Stewart Granger) and Cast a Dark Shadow, for which she received a BAFTA nomination.

In the pictures of Margaret Lockwood's visit, there is a young girl, named as Miss Diana Williams, presenting the film star with a huge bouquet of flowers.

Do you know Diana Williams? Do you remember seeing either of those film stars, or other screen greats, at a local cinema years ago? Write in with your memories, give us a call, or send an email to gjones@black countrybugle .co.uk.

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