Valerie Hobson, an elegant English film star who remained loyal to her husband, British Parliament member John Profumo, after he ignited a sex scandal that rocked Britain’s Conservative government in 1963, died Nov. 13 of a heart attack in a London hospital. She was 81.
Hobson, the daughter of a British army officer, was born in Larne, Northern Ireland. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and first appeared on the London stage when she was about 15. At 16 she entered films and in 1934 was brought to Hollywood, where she appeared in a string of horror and thriller films.
American film credits include “The Werewolf of London,” “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” all in 1935. She returned to England in 1937, disappointed in her U.S. film career.
Two of her most memorable British films are David Lean’s “Great Expectations” (1946) and Robert Hamer’s “Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949).
In 1939 she married Anthony Havelock-Allan, who had produced some of her films. A year after their divorce in 1952, she starred as Anna in the stage production of “The King and I” in London.
In 1954, she retired as an actress and married John Profumo, a Conservative member of Parliament. Nine years later, his affair with English call girl Christine Keeler (who was simultaneously having an affair with a Soviet attache) forced him to resign in disgrace as Secretary of State for War. The scandal toppled the British cabinet in 1963.
But Hobson stood by her husband, and while he performed unpaid charity work, she also did volunteer work, for a leprosy relief organization and for children with mental handicaps.
In 1975 she and her husband were received at Buckingham Palace, where he was honored for his charitable works and made a Commander, Order of the British Empire.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons.