Rosemary Jean Kirkcaldy

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KIRKCALDY, Rosemary Jean (1929-2002) Actress. Born at Blantyre in Nyasaland (now Malawi). Went to school in Harare, then on to Cape Town University, where she studied first Medicine, then switched to Ballet and Drama. Among her contemporaries was Nigel Hawthorne. Performed in The Glass Menagerie (Dir. Leonard Schach, 1949, in Little Theatre, Cape Town). Deciding to pursue an acting career, she travelled to England, where her first job was riding an elephant in a circus. She soon secured a part, which she played for a year, in Charley's Aunt, at the Piccadilly Theatre. By 1951 Rosemary Kirkcaldy was playing the lead in J M Barrie's Mary Rose at Pitlochry and met Joss Ackland, whom she married. In 1954 they decided to try their luck in Nyasaland, where Ackland found work as field assistant on a tea plantation at the foot of M'lanje mountain. After six months they moved to South Africa to find theatre work, spending two years at Cape Town and a further six months at Johannesburg. But in 1957, after the police raided their flat and confiscated the children's story Black Beauty (on the presumption that it was subversive of apartheid), they returned to Britain where Joss Ackland's career began to take off. After a fire in their house, which caused her to break her back, she decided she must give up acting. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2000, and died on July 25, 2000. ***(Tucker, 1997)

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