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Movie Actress Heather Angel Dies at 77

Times Staff Writer

Heather Angel, the delicate, ethereal actress whose dramatic talents generally were wasted in a series of long-forgotten films of the 1930s and ‘40s, is dead.

Miss Angel was 77 and died at her home in Montecito near Santa Barbara on Saturday.

She was born in Oxford, England, the daughter of a chemistry professor at the university but left school at 16 to attend the London Polytechnic of Dramatic Arts.

By 1926 she was doing bit Shakespearean roles with the Old Vic. She starred in several British films in the early 1930s, among them “The City of Song” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and came to the attention of the old Fox Studios in Hollywood.

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But both Fox and then Universal chose to ignore her classic training and used her in such low-budget features as “Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case” and “Springtime for Henry.”

Her performances in “Berkeley Square,” “The Informer” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” were critically praised as was her portrayal of the suicidal mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat.” She was also given a test for the role of Melanie in “Gone With the Wind” but lost the part to Olivia de Havilland.

By the end of the 1930s she had been relegated to B pictures, including the “Bulldog Drummond” series with Ray Milland.

She once told author Richard Lamparski that she never enjoyed seeing herself on screen and never had a part in which she became involved.

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She came out of retirement in the 1960s and made several appearances on television’s “Peyton Place,” “Mr. Novak” and “Family Affair” series.

Her most recent role was as Harry S. Truman’s mother-in-law in the miniseries “Backstairs at the White House.”

In 1970 she watched helplessly as her third husband, director Robert B. Sinclair, was stabbed to death by an intruder.

She is survived by a son and a sister.


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