Jane Baxter (9 September 1909 – 13 September 1996) was a British actress. Her stage career spanned half a century, and she appeared in a number of films and in television.

Early life

Baxter was born as Feodora Kathleen Alice Forde in Bremen, Germany to an Anglo-Irish naval engineer father and a German mother of noble background, Hedwig von Dieskau. The family castle lies on the outskirts of Halle in
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt (; Low German , , (in a stricter sense) nl, Nedersaksisch da, Plattysk, , , (rarely) , states = Northern Germany, Northern and Western Germany, western GermanyEastern NetherlandsSouthern Den ...
. Hedwig had been lady-in-waiting to , sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II.https://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/17/arts/jane-baxter-87-actress-recoiled-from-hollywood.html Feodora was named after Charlotte's daughter, Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen, who committed suicide in 1945.


Feodora Forde came to London at the age of six and studied acting at the Italia Conti Academy. She made her debut on the London stage at the age of 15 at the Adelphi Theatre in 1925 as an urchin in a short-lived musical, ''Love's Prisoner''. Her breakthrough occurred in 1928 when she substituted as Peter Pan for Jean Forbes-Robertson, whom she understudied. On the advice of the play's author, J. M. Barrie, Feodora changed her name to Jane Baxter. She was spotted by the writer John Hay Beith, Ian Hay, who suggested her for the lead in ''A Damsel in Distress (novel), A Damsel in Distress'', a play he had written with P. G. Wodehouse.Baxter's obituary, written by Tom Vallance, ''The Independent (London)'' 17 September 1996
/ref> She made her screen debut in 1930 in a B-movie, ''Bed and Breakfast'', and acted in a succession of films in the 1930s, most famously ''Blossom Time'' with Richard Tauber in 1934. She also performed in several West End shows and in 1935 she joined the repertory company at the Liverpool Playhouse. Here the leading actor was Michael Redgrave who found her "a delightful actress"; she would become his daughter Vanessa Redgrave, Vanessa's godmother. She had further success in London in 1937 with ''George and Margaret'' which ran for two years and in 1947 she co-starred on Broadway theatre, Broadway with John Gielgud and Margaret Rutherford in ''The Importance of Being Earnest'', in which she played Cicely Cardew. Another classic role in 1948 was Viola in ''Twelfth Night'' at the Old Vic, which was the stage directing debut of Alec Guinness. After a year's run in ''Dial M for Murder'' in 1952, she continued to work in the theatre for 20 years her last West End appearance being in ''A Voyage Round My Father'', which co-starred her old friend, Michael Redgrave. Baxter's television work included plays and series such as ''Upstairs, Downstairs (1971 TV series), Upstairs, Downstairs''. Her last appearance was in the documentary ''Missing Believed Lost'' (1992), in which Sir John Mills also appeared.

Personal life

Baxter married Clive Dunfee, the racing driver, in 1930, and witnessed his death in a race at Brooklands two years later. In 1939 she married Arthur Montgomery, a businessman, with whom she had two daughters and one son. One daughter married James Dugdale, 2nd Baron Crathorne the current Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.


Jane Baxter died in 1996, four days after her 87th birthday, from stomach cancer.


Jane Baxter was described by newspaper journalist Tom Vallance as "the epitome of middle-class breeding – sensible and practical, pretty rather than glamorous, with a delicate complexion. Perfect elocution, a beaming smile and just a hint of the coquette behind the cool exterior." Of her performance in the film ''Ships with Wings'', Prime Minister Winston Churchill called Baxter "that charming lady whose grace personifies all that is best in British womanhood."


* ''Bed and Breakfast (1930 film), Bed and Breakfast'' (1930) * ''Bedrock (film), Bedrock'' (1930) *''Down River'' (1931) * ''Two White Arms'' (1932) * ''Flat No. 9'' (1932) *''The Constant Nymph (1933 film), The Constant Nymph'' (1933) *''The Night of the Party'' (1934) * ''The Double Event (1934 film), The Double Event'' (1934) *''We Live Again'' (1934) * ''The Little Minister (1934 film), The Little Minister'' (1934) *''Blossom Time (film), Blossom Time'' (1934) *''Girls, Please!'' (1934) *''The Clairvoyant (1935 film), The Clairvoyant'' (1935) *''Enchanted April (1935 film), Enchanted April'' (1935) *''Line Engaged'' (1935) * ''Royal Cavalcade'' (1935) *''Drake of England'' (1935) *''Dusty Ermine'' (1936) * ''The Man Behind the Mask'' (1936) *''The Man Who Could Work Miracles'' (1936) * ''Second Best Bed'' (1938) *''The Ware Case (1938 film), The Ware Case'' (1938) *''Confidential Lady'' (1939) *''Murder Will Out (1939 film), Murder Will Out'' (1939) *''The Chinese Bungalow (1940 film), Chinese Bungalow'' (1940) * ''The Briggs Family'' (1940) *''Ships with Wings'' (1941) *''The Flemish Farm (film), The Flemish Farm'' (1943) *''Death of an Angel'' (1952) *''Upstairs, Downstairs (1971 TV series), Upstairs Downstairs'' (episode 'A Change of Scene') (1973) as The Dowager Lady Newbury

Selected stage credits

* ''George and Margaret'' by Gerald Savory (1937) * ''Living Room (play), Living Room'' by Esther McCracken (1943) * ''The Damask Cheek'' by John Van Druten (1949)


External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Baxter, Jane 1909 births 1996 deaths British stage actresses British film actresses British television actresses Deaths from cancer in England Deaths from stomach cancer Actresses from London 20th-century British actresses