Obituary: Rona Anderson, actress, 86

Gordon Jackson and Rona Anderson in 1955

Gordon Jackson and Rona Anderson in 1955

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A STAR of Scottish stage, film and television has died weeks before her 87th birthday.

Rona Anderson appeared alongside actor husband Gordon Jackson on several occasions including in crime drama The Professionals.

Born in Edinburgh to parents James and Evelyn (née Thomson) Anderson, she was educated in Edinburgh and in Ottawa, Canada, where she was evacuated in the early years of the Second World War.

Her love of acting was apparent from an early age and she trained at the Capital’s Glover Turner-Robertson School.

She made her first appearance on the stage at the Garrison Theatre, Salisbury, in April 1945 in a production of Peg o’ My Heart, where she enjoyed rave reviews.

Between 1945 and 1949, she performed at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, and worked with the likes of Fulton Mackay, Duncan Macrae and Stanley Baxter.

Revered for her stunning looks, she was cast in a film, Floodtide, where she would meet the man she would marry.

A romantic drama set in the grim grandeur of the Clydeside shipyards in 1949, the film’s star was Gordon Jackson. The couple were married two years later and had two sons, Roddy and Graham.

The next movie she starred in was A Christmas Carol, where she played Alice, appearing alongside Alastair Sim.

In 1958, she joined Lee Patterson in Man With A Gun, and her last major film appearance was in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, in 1969.

The movie memorably starred Maggie Smith as the crème de la crème Edinburgh school mistress, and Rona was the chemistry mistress of “the Brodie gels” who had her eyes set on the music master Mr Lowther – played by her husband. Anderson made two prestigious visits to the Edinburgh Festival, including the world premiere of James Bridie’s play the Queen’s Comedy at the Lyceum Theatre in 1950.

Anderson played Venus alongside a host of leading Scottish actors including Macrae, James Cairncross and Baxter. She returned for the 1960 Festival appearing as Miriam Braidfute in Sydney Goodsir Smith’s epic play, The Wallace, at the Assembly Hall.

Anderson appeared regularly in the West End and was often cast in Brian Rix comedies and had a
major role in Whose Life is it Anyway? in 1978 alongside her friend and neighbour in Hampstead, Tom Conti.

In 1981, Anderson played Princess Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, in the Ray Cooney comedy Her Royal Highness at the Palace Theatre, London with Marc Sinden as Prince Charles.

Her television drama roles included Dr Finlay’s Casebook, Dixon of Dock Green and The Labours of Erica with Brenda Blethyn.