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            Wendy Barrie

            Biografie

            Wendy Barrie was born in Hong Kong of English/Irish parentage, the daughter of King's Counsel F.C. Jenkins. Her education was spent at a convent school in England and a finishing school in Switzerland. After working in a beauty parlour, she made her first foray into acting on the London stage in "Wonder Bar" (1930). Two years later, she was "discovered" by producer Alexander Korda while lunching at the Savoy Grill. After successful screen tests, she was famously cast in the role of "Jane Seymour", the second of the eight wives at the centre of The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933), starring Charles Laughton. Hollywood soon beckoned and Wendy left England for America in 1934. During the next decade and a bit, she found regular employment at Paramount (1935), Universal (1936-38) and RKO (1938-42). A blonde, vivacious young woman with a certain innocent charm and an instinctive acting ability, she was initially cast in ingenue roles in minor films, until a grittier role came along as "Kay Burton" in the social drama, Dead End (1937). Wendy's film career henceforth alternated between supporting roles in bigger pictures and leads in B-movies.

            From the late 1930's, she had more varied outings, as a gangster's moll in the crime melodrama, I Am the Law (1938), a plane crash victim in Five Came Back (1939) and as "Beryl Stapleton", Richard Greene's love interest in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), with Basil Rathbone as "Sherlock Holmes". By the 1940s, her star had faded. This was partly due to bad publicity generated by her real-life role as mistress of notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel. Wendy was effectively relegated to appearing in various entries in "The Saint" and "Falcon" series at RKO, and, after a number of other decidedly mediocre films, started out on a successful new career as television host of her own pioneering talk-show, "Picture This" (1948) (1948-50). Her relaxed, informal style brought her great popularity and plaudits from television critics like Jack Gould of the New York Times. Wendy's other claim to fame was as one of the first celebrities to make television commercials, famously with Revlon, asking the $64,000 question. During the 1960's, she also broadcast her own radio interview show from the Biltmore Hotel. She was actively involved in various charities and was known to attend as guest speaker at philanthropic functions, freely giving of her time without remuneration. In the mid-70's, Wendy suffered a stroke which affected her mental state and she spent the last years of her life at a nursing home in Englewood, New Jersey, where she died in February 1978, aged 65.

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