Born: 3 August, 1926, in Edinburgh. Died: 23 July, 2013, in London, aged 86
‘Pretty Rona Anderson”, as she was known, is dead. I fell in love with her at nine, seeing her in the movie Floodtide with her soon-to-be-husband, Gordon Jackson. It was therefore hugely exciting to meet her, though “meet” is hardly accurate since she was the leading lady and I an extra in The Wallace at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960. Finally in 1971, Rona, my wife and I were in a TV play together and became close friends forever after. During that time she and I worked together on three plays in the West End: Savages, Whose Life is it Anyway? and Present Laughter.
She loved working in the theatre, not just because it was fun but, since her presence was demanded absolutely every evening at eight o’clock, even if the water tank had burst and flooded the house, she had no option but to walk out the front door, impeccably dressed.
Rona was an extraordinary woman, stunningly beautiful in the Vivien Leigh mould.
She made more than 30 movies. A “Rank Starlet”, she was schooled in everything considered important for a career actress: what clothes and colours suited her, the art of make-up, how she should be lit, her “best side” and – of course – how to behave. Anyone who didn’t behave, to our great amusement through the years, would get the razor edge of Rona’s Edinburgh tongue. A shining, sparkling personality, she was a joy at any gathering and, as the years advanced, bringing the loss of her beloved Gordon and the inevitable disintegration of the mortal coil, her resolute, fighting spirit was an example to us all.
She will be much missed, by her boys, Roddy and Graham, and those of us who loved her and delighted in her beauty, elegance and effervescent sense of fun.