Mayor joins Princess Royal to honour screen legend

21 March 2014 in Events and Mayor
Mayor Sir Robin Wales joined the Princess Royal to unveil a memorial stone to British and Hollywood screen legend Dame Anna Neagle and her award-winning film director husband Herbert Wilcox CBE.​
Princess Anne And Sir Robin Wales

Princess Anne lifted a Union flag to reveal the white marble stone at City of London Cemetery in Manor Park that marks the final resting place of the stage and screen star who died in 1986. Her husband died in 1977.

Sir Robin Wales said: “It is only right that the achievements of two such pivotal pioneering figures in the history of British cinema be recognised in this way.”

Dame Anna was born Florence Marjorie Robertson on 20 October 1904 at Glenparke Road, Forest Gate, the third and youngest child of Merchant Navy captain Herbert William Robertson and his wife Florence Neagle, whose maiden name Anna adopted for her movie career.

While she was still a child, Anna’s family moved to Upton Lane, Forest Gate. She became an enthusiastic supporter of West Ham United, and her footballing hero was Hammers and England centre forward Syd Puddefoot.

While appearing in her first major West End hit in Stand Up and Sing at the London Hippodrome in 1931, Anna was spotted by film producer and director Herbert Wilcox, who signed her for the lead in his film, Goodnight Vienna, in 1932, which made her an overnight star.

Neagle and Wilcox were to make 33 films together, including Nell Gwyn in 1934, Victoria the Great in 1937, Spring in Park Lane in 1948, Odette in 1950 and The Lady with A Lamp in 1951.

Anna and Herbert, who were married in 1943, were to win 13 national and international awards for their films. She has a road in Forest Gate named after her. Among the guests at the tribute unveiling were actor Leslie Phillips, radio presenter Pete Murray and 1960s pop star Joe Brown.