Sheila Sim

Actor, Magistrate
Actress Sheila Sim embodied strong-willed young English women in a series of acclaimed features in the 1940s and '50s, including "A Canterbury Tale" (1944), "Great Day" (1945) and "West of Zanzibar" (1954) before ... Read more »
Born: 06/05/1922 in Liverpool, UK

Filmography

Actor (4)

The Night My Number Came Up 1954 (Movie)

Mary Campbell (Actor)

West of Zanzibar 1954 (Movie)

Mary Payton (Actor)

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman 1951 (Movie)

Janet (Actor)

The Guinea Pig 1947 (Movie)

Lynne Hartley (Actor)

Biography

Actress Sheila Sim embodied strong-willed young English women in a series of acclaimed features in the 1940s and '50s, including "A Canterbury Tale" (1944), "Great Day" (1945) and "West of Zanzibar" (1954) before retiring from her profession to raise a family with her husband, actor/director Richard Attenborough. Born Sheila Beryl Grant Sim in Liverpool, England on June 5, 1922, she and her brother, Gerald-who would also enjoy a career as an actor on film and television-were raised in Surrey. She initially considered a career in banking like her father, but soon realized that her true interest lay in acting. Sim attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), where she met Attenborough, with whom she co-starred in a production of "The Lady and the Tramp." They soon fell in love, but their courtship was interrupted by Attenborough's service with the Royal Air Force's Film Unit during World War II; during this period, Sim appeared in numerous theatrical productions before making her film debut as an adventurous young woman in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's wartime drama "A Canterbury Tale" (1944). The following year, she married Attenborough, with whom she would co-star in several features, including the postwar gangland picture "Dancing With Crime" (1947) and the Boulting Brothers' class drama "The Outsider," also known as "The Guinea Pig" (1948); the couple would also appear together in the first production of Agatha Christie's murder mystery play "The Mousetrap" in 1951, which became the longest running stage production in modern history. For their participation in the play, the Attenboroughs were awarded 10% of the profits, which kept them financially secure for many years. Sim would go on to appear in several more films, including Albert Lewin's cult fantasy "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" (1951) and the safari adventure "West of Zanzibar" (1954), but by the midpoint of that decade, Sim had left acting to make good on her promise to Attenborough to retire from acting should they have children. She raised the couple's three children - their son, Michael, who became a theater director, and daughters Jane and Charlotte - and remained a constant supportive presence to her husband during his directorial career. Deteriorating health spurred Sim and Attenborough to relocate to Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors, in 2012 and 2013, respectively; there, they were cared for until Attenborough's death in 2014 and Sim's passing at the age of 93 on January 19, 2016.

Relationships

Richard Attenborough Actor

Husband
Met at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) Married Jan. 22, 1945 Acted together in "The Guinea Pig" (1948) and the first production of "The Mousetrap" (1952) in London

Michael Attenborough

Son

Charlotte Attenborough Actor

Daughter

David Attenborough Actor

Brother-In-Law

Gerald Sim Actor

Brother

EDUCATION

Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

Milestones

1955

Made final screen appearance in the supernatural drama "The Night My Number Came Up"

1952

Acted opposite husband Richard Attenborough in the original stage production of "Mousetrap"

1951

Landed supporting role in "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman"

1947

Co-starred with her husband, Richard Attenborough, in "Dancing with Crime"

1943

Made feature film debut in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "A Canterbury Tale"

Bonus Trivia

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Sim's death was made public after the January 19, 2016 performance of "The Mousetrap," in which she and her husband appeared in its inaugural run in 1951.

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Sim's breakout film role in "A Canterbury Tale" had been written for Deborah Kerr, who was co-director Michael Powell's significant other. He would later state that she made the role "her own."

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The couple lived in the same home on Richmond Green in London from 1956 to 2012, and initially repaired damage caused by the London Blitz with 500 pounds won from a bet.

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The percentage they received from "The Mousetrap" allowed Attenborough to complete "Gandhi."

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She donated a collection of Picasso ceramics she owned with Attenborough to the Leicester Art Gallery in 2007 to commemorate the passing of their daughter and granddaughter.

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