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Judy Armstrong obituary: ‘Bon viveur’ actress who called Primrose Hill home, dead at 94

PUBLISHED: 10:00 09 March 2019

Judy Armstrong. Picture: Charles Armstrong

Judy Armstrong. Picture: Charles Armstrong

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Actress, mum, and long-term resident of Primrose Hill Judy Armstrong died in January. Her son, Charles, writes about her life, career and family

Judy Armstrong. Picture: Charles ArmstrongJudy Armstrong. Picture: Charles Armstrong

Judy Armstrong (nee Horton) died peacefully at her home in Darwin Court, Gloucester Avenue on January 3, aged 94. She was a resident and familiar face in Primrose Hill for 60 years.

She first moved to 39 Chalcot Crescent in 1957, after marrying John, a three-time BAFTA award winning documentary film-maker.

Judy was a vital force and bon viveur. She was hilarious, much loved and something of a local celebrity in her often frequented local haunts such as The Engineer, L’Absinthe and Lemonia.

Although born in Kent, she spent her early years in South Africa before moving back to London in the 1930s.

She signed up for the war effort in 1941 aged just 17.

Petite, plucky, and very beautiful, she loved the camaraderie she found in her ATS Battery. Although her older brother Michael survived the war flying Lancaster Bombers, he was tragically killed days later when his plane was struck by lightning.

Judy studied at Twickenham Art College where she became great friends with the photographer Lewis Morley. He introduced her to John, whom she married four years later.

She was scouted by modelling agent Jean Bell in the early 1950s and went on to work as a fashion model.

Modelling led to work in the film business followed by more prominent roles in three feature films: the brilliant Ealing comedy I’m Alright Jack with Peter Sellers; The 39 Steps with Kenneth More; and the one and only Goons film Down Among The Z Men.

A reviewer wrote of her performance: “The producer has a find in lovely young model Judy Horton. She could be groomed to take Jean Simmons’ place in British film.”

She and John loved the South of France and retired to Castillon du Gard in the 1990s. After John died in 2004, Judy returned to Primrose Hill. She had an active social life in her 80s and became a regular audience member of The Wright Stuff.

In one episode she was invited to model an outfit for “the mature lady”. When asked if she would wear it herself, she sighed and said: “Maybe in 10 years’ time.”

She touched the hearts of everyone she met and will be remembered for her glamour, style and wicked sense of humour.

She is survived by her children, Charlie and Emma.

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