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Isobel Elsom

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Isobel Elsom
Isabelle Reed

(1893-03-16)16 March 1893
Chesterton, Cambridge, England
Died12 January 1981(1981-01-12) (aged 87)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1915–1964
Spouse(s)Maurice Elvey
(m. 1923; div. 19??)
(m. 1942; died 1958)

Isobel Elsom (born Isabelle Reed, 16 March 1893 – 12 January 1981) was an English film, theatre, and television actress.

Early years

Born in Chesterton, Cambridge, Elsom attended Howard College, Bedford England.[1]


Elsom usually was cast as an aristocratic lady of the upper class.

She debuted on stage in London as a member of the chorus of The Quaker Girl (1911).[2] Gilbert Miller promoted her to stardom in The Outsider.[3]

Over the course of three decades, she appeared in 17 Broadway productions,[4] beginning with The Ghost Train (1926).[2] Her best-known stage role was the wealthy murder victim in Ladies in Retirement (1939), a role she repeated in the 1941 film version. Her other theatre credits included The Innocents and Romeo and Juliet. Elsom made her first screen appearance during the silent film era (she frequently co-starred with Owen Nares) and appeared in nearly 100 films throughout her career.

Elsom appeared as the leading lady for the Elitch Theatre summer season of 1928. At Elitch, she appeared in the role she created in the play The Outsider earlier that year on Broadway. A Denver reviewer of the play wrote:

If there is anybody in this man's town who doubts that Isobel Elsom, leading woman at the Elitch Gardens Theatre, is an actress of the highest rank, let that doubting Thomas see her work in The Outsider ... She not only is scoring a brilliant personal triumph, but is demonstrating to local playgoers exactly why she was one of the most popular actresses London ever knew![5]

She met her first husband,[6] director Maurice Elvey, when he cast her in his 1919 film Quinneys. He directed her in eight more films before they divorced. Elsom's other screen credits included The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), The Unseen (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Monsieur Verdoux, The Paradine Case, and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (all 1947), The Secret Garden (1949), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Lust for Life and 23 Paces to Baker Street (both 1956), and The Pleasure Seekers and My Fair Lady (both 1964).

She appeared opposite Jerry Lewis in four of his late 1950s/early 1960s films. Elsom's television credits included Armstrong Circle Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lux Video Theatre, My Three Sons, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (at least four appearances), Playhouse 90, Hawaiian Eye, Straightaway, and Dr. Kildare.

Personal life

Elsom's second husband was actor Carl Harbord, married from 1947 until his death in 1958.[2] She had no children.


Elsom died of heart failure at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, aged 87.[2]

National Portrait Gallery

Five portraits of Elsom are included in the Photographs Collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.[7]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976 vol.2 D-H p.756-757, originally published annually by John Parker; this final 1976 edition published by Gale Research Company
  2. ^ a b c d "Isobel Elsom, 87, Dead; Stage and Film Actress". The New York Times. 16 January 1981. p. D 17. ProQuest 121532425. Retrieved 12 November 2020 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ "Isobel Elsom, Coming in 'Ghosts', Stated Career as Chorus Girl". The Gazette. Canada, Montreal. 6 March 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 13 November 2020 – via
  4. ^ "Isobel Elsom". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  5. ^ Borrillo, Theodore A. (2012). Denver's historic Elitch Theatre : a nostalgic journey (a history of its times). [publisher not identified]. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-9744331-4-1. OCLC 823177622.
  6. ^ This is probably the wrong film for their first meeting. More likely 1923. See Maurice Elvey
  7. ^ National Portraits Gallery website
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