Obituary: Tom Conti tribute to late actress Rona Anderson - ‘one of the most fun people I have ever met’

Rona Anderson and Gordon Jackson after their wedding at the Chelsea Register Office in 1951. Picture

Rona Anderson and Gordon Jackson after their wedding at the Chelsea Register Office in 1951. Picture: PA Archive. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Tom Conti was nine when he first set eyes on Rona Anderson and instantly fell in love with the film star on the screen in front of him.

Tom Conti. Picture: PA Archive/Steve Parsons.

Tom Conti. Picture: PA Archive/Steve Parsons. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Two decades later, he starred alongside the actress, widow of Upstairs, Downstairs star Gordon Jackson, in a 1970s Granada Television production and struck up a friendship that would last the rest of her life.

Following her death last month, the 71-year-old Shirley Valentine star described Ms Anderson, a fellow Scot and Hampstead resident, as “one of the most fun people I have ever met”.

He said: “She was irrepressibly bubbly and any room which Rona walked into was brighter for her presence in it. She was a star, she had that thing that made people look at her. She was phenomenally beautiful. She was drop dead gorgeous.”

Born in Edinburgh on August 3, 1926, Ms Anderson was educated in her home city and started acting at an early age, training at Edinburgh’s Glover Turner Roberston School.


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Her first film role was as one of the passengers in spy thriller Sleeping Car to Trieste in 1948. Her second was opposite her future husband in Floodtide in 1949, a romantic drama set and shot mainly in Scotland.

Two years later, she married Mr Jackson, her husband of nearly 40 years. He died of cancer, aged 66, in 1990.

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Between 1950 and 1958, Ms Anderson starred in 20 British films, mostly well-crafted, low-budget thrillers.

She was busy throughout the 1960s bringing up her two sons, Roddy and Graham.

Later in her career, she starred alongside Mr Conti in a number of theatre productions, including Christopher Hampton’s Savages in 1973, in the original production of Whose Life Is It Anyway? in 1978 and she played Lady Saltburn in a Liverpool Playhouse revival of Present Laughter in 1993.

Mr Conti and his wife grew to become great friends with Ms Anderson and Mr Jackson, regularly attending dinner parties at the couple’s Hampstead home, alongside the likes of Kenneth Williams.

“Every night at the Jacksons was always a great pleasure, they were great hosts,” he said.

Ms Anderson died on July 23, 2013. Her funeral took place at Hampstead Parish Church, in Church Row.

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