The Brief, Madcap Life of Kay Kendall
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
195 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 59 b&w photos
- Published: September 2002
Comedic film actress Kay Kendall, born to a theatrical family in Northern England, came of age in London during the Blitz. After starring in Britain's biggest cinematic disaster, she found stardom in 1953 with her brilliant performance in the film Genevieve. She scored success after success with her light comic style in movies such as Doctor in the House, The Reluctant Debutante, and the Gene Kelly musical Les Girls. Kendall's private life was even more colorful than the plots of her films as she embarked on a series of affairs with costars, directors, producers, and married men. In 1954 she fell in love with her married Constant Husband costar Rex Harrison and accompanied him to New York, where he was starring on Broadway in My Fair Lady. It was there that Kendall was diagnosed with myelocytic leukemia. Her life took a romantic and tragic turn as Harrison divorced his wife and married Kendall. He agreed with their doctor that she was never to know of her diagnosis, and for the next two years the couple lived a hectic, glamorous life together as Kendall's health failed. She died in London at the age of 32 with her husband by her side shortly after completing the filming of Once More with Feeling!.
This book was written with the cooperation of Kendall's sister Kim and includes interviews with many of her costars, relatives, and friends. A complete filmography and rare photographs complete this first-ever biography of Britain's most glamorous comic star.
Foreword: How This Book Came to Be
"The first biography of this beautiful, ambitious woman. Golden's writing style is concise and evenly paced, and she uses firsthand information from the actress's family and friends. Although American audiences may not be familiar with Kendall, this is an enjoyable read." -- Library Journal
"Considered to be a real life 'Holly Golightly' by the British. A beautiful comedian everyone thought to be mad as a 'hatter.' The book will tell you all about the woman and how she lived up to her reputation." -- Rainbo Electronic Reviews