Friday 25 August 2017

Remembering Imogen


Imogen Hassall would have celebrated her 75 birthday today, had she lived. Imogen's life was a turbulent one, cut tragically short when she took her own life in November 1980 at the age of just 38. Much has been written about Imogen, mainly around her appearance, her private life and sadly, her death. I have written about her before, profiling her life and career, however as this day marks a special anniversary I thought I would blog about Imogen Hassall once again.

I never wish to dwell on the private lives of well known actors and personalities. Just because they are in the public eye through their choice of career, it doesn't give us, their public, the right to probe and pry into their affairs. I can't help but view Imogen as a tragic figure due to certain details that have become public knowledge about her life and the way in which her life was cut tragically short that winter's day 37 years ago. Despite this, and the fact that her career was hampered by the way the tabloid press chose to perceive her, I still believe Imogen brought and continues to bring a great deal of pleasure through her performances on screen.

Of course she had a memorable role in the 1970 film, Carry On Loving. As Jenny Grubb, Imogen underwent a dramatic transformation during the course of the film, making the part of Jenny almost a dual role for Imogen. Imogen displayed a real gift for comedy and held her own in many scenes featuring far more experienced light comedy actors - Joan Hickson, Terry Scott and Sid James to name but a few. Without a doubt Imogen is one of the best things about Carry On Loving, in a cast bulging with series favourites and well known guest and supporting actors. I only wish Peter and Gerald had signed her up for more films with the team.


Imogen also had memorable roles in a host of television series we still adore today - The Persuaders with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore; The Saint, again with Moore; Jason King and The Avengers. Even though we love this guest spots, sadly they did not help advance Imogen's career in the direction she hoped and indeed worked hard for. Her early obsession with live theatre had seen her train at RADA and spent a season as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She won plaudits for her part in the William Douglas-Home comedy, The Reluctant Peer at London's Duchess Theatre in 1964 however she quest to become a serious, acclaimed actress sadly did not work out. 

By the mid to late 1970s, with the British film industry suffering a painful, sad decline, Imogen was only offered supporting roles in less than inspiring productions. She was undoubtedly a talented, vibrant actress which makes it so shameful that she received this reputation as a party girl, only known for attending premieres and for showing off her figure. Despite so many sad aspects to her all too short life, I think Imogen Hassall deserves to be remembered as a good actress, a charming personality with much promise, who lighted up the screen and still gives us joy so many years after her passing.

You can read my blog on Imogen's career here

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