The Countess of Dudley, better known to fans of the silver screen as actress Maureen Swanson, has died at the age of 78.
Lady Dudley married William Ward, then Viscount Ednam and later the fourth Earl of Dudley, in August 1961. Maureen Swanson was born in Glasgow on November 25 1932 and developed a passion for dance, particularly ballet, from a young age.
She won a place at the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School. And when her family later moved to South Africa became ward to Lady Griffith-Boscawen.
Her dancing skills were soon recognised and she was later selected to perform with the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet Company.
It was while with the company she was spotted by a talent scout in a production at the Theatre Royal, in Drury Lane.
During the 1950s she became a familiar face to cinemagoers appearing in films such as Moulin Rouge, Knights of the Round Table and A Town Like Alice for the Rank Organisation.
She gave up her screen career after marrying Viscount Ednam in 1961, just days after his divorce from his first wife was finalised. The third Earl of Dudley did not attended the wedding ceremony and instead played bridge at his club.
The couple’s first son was born prematurely and lived for only a few hours.
They went on to have five daughters before the birth of another son in 1971, which was announced on the front pages of national newspapers.
Lord Ednam succeeded to the earldom of Dudley following the death of his father in 1969.
The countess was no stranger to controversy and won a series of libel actions over the years. She also objected to be described as a "Rank starlet" once sending her CV to journalists and asking to be regarded as a "serious actress and dancer".
After her marriage, she channelled her energies into interior design at her homes in London and Devon.
She died on November 16 and is survived by her husband and six children.
Born: 11/5/1932, Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.
Died: 11/16/2011, U.K.
Maureen Swanson's western - actress:
Robbery Under Arms - 1957 (Kate Morrison Mullockson)