Born in London, Matthews first made her mark in the theatre in Charles B Cochrane’s revues and the musical comedy Evergreen, which led to a contract with Gaumont-British to star in The Good Companions and, later, the screen version of Evergreen. For six years from the early 30s she quit the stage for films, becoming Britain’s most popular musical star, under the careful direction of Victor Saville.
Matthews turned down Hollywood offers because she did not want to be separated from Sonnie Hale, the second of her three husbands. He starred with her in several films, but her popularity waned when he took over as director for three movies. Her youthful appeal was fading, and she was having weight problems.
Hale co-wrote and was to direct Asking for Trouble, which he intended as a lavish screen musical, but Gaumont-British were unable to raise the finance, and shooting was abandoned. Carol Reed was brought in to direct a version with the musical numbers cut, retitled Climbing High; it also failed, although she and Reed briefly became lovers.
She returned to the stage and variety performances before becoming a radio personality as Mrs Dale in the BBC soap opera The Dales (1963-69).
Latest Jessie Matthews Pictures
Watch Jessie Matthews on British television
Nothing due to be screened.