A brash character actress who specialized in cinema, television, and theater, Hermione Youlanda Ruby Clinton-Baddeley was born on November 13, 1906 in Broseley, Shropshire. She was the youngest of four sisters – including Angela Baddeley, also an actress – and her half-brother, Very Rev William Baddeley, was a Church of England Minister.
Not much is known about Baddeley’s early life. She made her stage debut in 1918, and became popular in London stage comedies and revues prior to World War II, known for her dancing talent and natural comic ability. She memorably performed several times with Hermione Gingold. Baddeley made her film debut in 1927, with a role in the extremely obscure silent comedy A Daughter in Revolt (1927), but didn’t come to attention until twenty years later, when she portrayed the affable but blowzy Ida in the film noir Brighton Rock (1948).
Known for her memorable character roles, Baddeley dabbled in such movies as Passport to Pimlico (1949), A Christmas Carol (1951), Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1951), The Pickwick Papers (1952), The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954), Mary Poppins (1964), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her acid-tongued performance in Room at the Top (1959). At two minutes and thirty-two seconds, it is the shortest performance to ever be nominated for the award.
Baddeley became a household favorite for her role as irritable cockney housekeeper Mrs. Naugatuck on the ’70s comedy series Maude (1972). She landed guest spots on multiple other shows, including but not limited to Hancock’s Half Hour (1956), The Patty Duke Show (1963), Bewitched (1964), Night Gallery (1969), The Bionic Woman (1976), The Love Boat (1977), Charlie’s Angels (1976), Wonder Woman (1975), Fantasy Island (1977), and Magnum, P.I. (1980).
Baddeley’s two marriages failed, and she had a daughter, Pauline Tennant, from her first. She was in a long-term relationship with actor Laurence Harvey until he left her for Margaret Leighton, and died on August 19, 1986 at the age of 79 following a series of strokes.
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