Agent pays tribute to The Railway Children star Dinah Sheridan

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 December 2012 | UPDATED: 10:28 02 December 2012

Dinah Sheridan was considered the quintessential English rose.

Dinah Sheridan was considered the quintessential English rose.


Tributes have been paid to classic British film star Dinah Sheridan, the first actress to broadcast on television from Alexandra Palace, who died recently at the age of 92.

The actress, who played the mother in 1970 children’s drama The Railway Children, passed away at her home in Northwood, Middlesex, last Sunday (November 25), surrounded by her family.

Sheridan’s agent Gareth Owen described the late star as a “wonderfully kind, gentle lady”.

She was famed for her elegance and understated beauty and is widely considered the quintessential English rose.

Born in Hampstead Garden Suburb on September 17, 1920, Sheridan made her film debut in 1935 and went on to become a star of both

stage and screen, appearing in her final film in 1980.

She is survived by her daughter Jenny Hanley, an actress, and son Sir Jeremy Hanley, a former Conservative MP.

Sheridan attended The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in Clerkenwell, as a child and made her professional debut aged 11 in Where the Rainbow Ends at Holborn Empire.

In 1936, she became the first actress to broadcast on television from Alexandra Palace, appearing in the programme Picture Page.

After the outbreak of war, she spent two years in provincial repertory theatre and drove an ambulance at Welwyn Garden City.

There were numerous film roles for Sheridan throughout the 1940s but it wasn’t until 1953 that the actress tasted real stardom after landing a lead role in Bafta-winning comedy Genevieve.

Genevieve and The Railway Children, released almost two decades later, became Sheridan’s most popular films and cemented her place in British cinema history.

During her life, the actress married four times, first to actor Jimmy Hanley in 1942, with whom she had her two children.

Two years after their divorce, she married business executive John Davis in 1954 but this too ended in divorce.

Later in life, Sheridan married twice more, to actor John Merivale and American businessman Aubrey Ison.

Sadly, both marriages were cut short after Mr Merivale died in 1990 and the death of Mr Ison in 2007.

Following Sheridan’s death, her agent Gareth Owen told the Ham&High about his memories of the star.

“I first met Dinah about 15-years-ago and I’d been introduced to her by Norman Wisdom,” said Mr Owen. “She absolutely enthralled me with her tales about working in the business.

“She was such a wonderfully kind, gentle lady – she never said a bad word about anybody. She was always a great intellect and if you ever wrote to her she’d pick you up on your grammar.

“Her last job was to provide a voice for an animated Doctor Who cartoon. She was very nervous but she absolutely loved it, a true pro right to the end.”

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