IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

A plaque for Jean Simmons…

14 February, 2020

Actress Jean Simmons (1929-2010)

• IN his letter Walter Roberts enquires if a commemorative plaque has been or will be commissioned at actress Jean Simmons’s birthplace as a tribute, (Jean Simmons was a star export… January 27).

I have conducted much research into Jean’s outstanding career and have been corresponding with the present owner of Jean’s birthplace.

I have also been pursuing the provision of a plaque ever since I first wrote to the Tribune in July 2012 about this matter.

Jean (1929-2010) was subsequently placed on an Islington Council list for a possible plaque but, alas, there were insufficient public votes.

In August 2018 I therefore wrote to Amanda Nevill, CEO of the British Film Institute (who had attended Jean’s memorial service in London) to suggest a Jean Simmons retrospective and the unveiling of a plaque.

Ms Nevill referred the matter to English Heritage Blue Plaques, but they declined as the subject had to be deceased for at least 20 years.

In May 2019 I therefore contacted radio DJ Mike Read of the British Plaque Trust, who initially expressed interest in the project. Unfortunately, he did not respond to subsequent emails.

Consequently I recently contacted the Theatre and Film Guild of Great Britain and America and pledged a significant donation towards the cost of erecting a plaque.

Readers may be interested to learn that Jean Merilyn Simmons was born at 42 Hillmarton Road in Lower Holloway, London, January 1929 to physical training instructor Charles Simmons and Winifred Ada Loveland.

In 1932 the Simmons family moved to 120 Cheviot Gardens, on the new Golders Green Estate in Cricklewood. The family was evacuated to Winscombe in Somerset for a period during the Blitz years of the World War II. Jean attended Orange Hill School for Girls in Edgware for a time.

However, it was in 1943, a fortnight after she had begun to attend the Aida Foster school of dance and drama in nearby Golders Green, that young Jean was chosen by producer and director Val Guest to appear in the film Give Us the Moon (1944) with Margaret Lockwood.

A brilliant “natural” actress, Jean went on to star along with most of the great actors and directors in Britain and Hollywood. In 1950 she had followed her future first husband, actor Stewart Granger, to Hollywood and they were married in Tucson, Arizona.

This stunningly beautiful lady, much-loved and admired by fellow actors, directors, producers, and legions of adoring film fans world-wide, died at her home in Santa Monica, California, aged 80, on January 22 2010 and her ashes were interred in Highgate Cemetery West, near her former homes.

If any readers have any information about Jean and the Simmons family I would be pleased to hear from them.

ROBERT D CAMPBELL
48 McLean Place
Paisley PA3

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