British leading lady, a former chorus dancer who, in partnership with producer and, later, her husband Herbert Wilcox, built up a formidable film gallery of historical heroines
Born in Forest Gate, Dame Anna Neagle was on stage from 1925, and also worked as a dancer in the late 1920s. Her success dated from the film of Goodnight Vienna, starring Jack Buchanan. After Evelyn Laye turned down the role opposite Buchanan, Wilcox went to call on him, saw Neagle performing with him on stage, and signed her for the film. When film roles grew hard to find, she returned successfully to the stage. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1969.