Blonde actress best known for her star-making role as the troubled pianist who must cope with a suave tormenter (James Mason) in Compton Bennett's landmark romantic psychodrama, "The Seventh Veil" (1945). Todd's film career had begun almost 15 years earlier but, apart from roles as Ralph Richardson's mad wife in Victor Saville's "South Riding" (1938) and as Robert Donat's wartime flirtation in "Vacation from Marriage" (1945), consisted mostly of minor genre fare. She enjoyed considerable success on the British stage in the early 40s and returned to films after a four-year absence to claim her place as one of England's biggest postwar stars.
The prominent bone structure of Todd's face and her cool, patrician manner gave her a certain Garboesque quality. Often cast as quiet, stiff-upper-lip types who become enmeshed in torrid melodramatic situations, Todd did well as murderesses, actual or suspected, in "So Evil My Love" (1948) and "Madeleine" (1950). She did what she could as the sultry wife in "Daybreak" (1946) but the French-influenced film noir suffered from censorship problems; another straying wife role, in the intense "The Passionate Friends" (1949), came off rather better. The latter and "Madeleine" were directed by Todd's third husband, David Lean, who also guided her in the aerially spectacular but dramatically earthbound "Breaking the Sound Barrier" (1952). She also played the romantic lead opposite Gregory Peck in Alfred Hitchcock's less than compelling "The Paradine Case" (1948).
Already approaching middle age when she became a star, Todd was finding it hard to land romantic leads by the mid-50s. She excelled in a leading role as a desperate mother in Joseph Losey's suspenseful "Time Without Pity" (1957), but was by then devoting most of her time to the stage. She also began writing, producing and directing travel documentaries, mostly shorts, for both TV and theatrical release. Todd later played occasional frosty character roles on film (notably "Taste of Fear" 1961) and TV ("Maelstrom" 1986, "Heat of the Day" 1990).
Not to be confused with the American child actress Ann Todd, who was often billed as "Ann E Todd" in the 40s to avoid confusion.