Herbert Wilcox

Herbert Wilcox

Originally a film salesman, Wilcox turned to producing in 1922, founded Elstree Studios in 1926 and was one of the central figures of British cinema by the end of the decade. Combining a keen sense for public taste with a flair for promotion, Wilcox produced numerous hits and guided the career of Anna Neagle, whom he would marry in 1943. Neagle's genteel charm, carefully nurtured by Wilcox, made her England's biggest female draw for seven years. Beginning with "Goodnight in Vienna" (1933), Wilcox directed her in a series of hugely successful, mostly historical films, including "Odette" (1950) and the Queen Victoria diptych, "Victoria the Great" (1937) and "Sixty Glorious Years" (1938).Wilcox enjoyed modest success during a Hollywood sojourn in the late 1930s, returned to Britain in the early 40s and continued to dominate the British industry with a string of saccharine comedies starring Neagle and Michael Wilding, such as "Piccadilly Incident" (1946) and "Spring in Park Lane" (1948). His producing prowess began to falter in the early 50s and he was bankrupt by 1964. He published an autobiography, "Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets," in 1967.