The actress Jill Balcon, daughter of Birmingham-born film producer Sir Michael Balcon and mother of Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, has died at the age of 84.
The widow of Cecil Day-Lewis, who was poet laureate from 1968 to 1972, she enjoyed a long and distinguished career in theatre, films, television and radio, although her stage career mostly predated the birth of her children Tamasin in 1953 and Daniel in 1957.
She was also an enthusiastic champion of poetry, taking part in many readings and editing collections of her late husband’s verse, including a selection to mark his centenary in 2004.
She made her screen debut in 1947 in Alberto Cavalcanti’s Nicholas Nickleby, and starred opposite Stewart Granger in Saraband for Dead Lovers the following year.
In the 1990s her film career underwent a revival with substantial roles in two films directed by Derek Jarman, Edward II (1991) and Wittgenstein (1993). Her televison credits ranged from the big-budget costume drama Elizabeth R to The Sweeney. She worked in radio for 60 years, a landmark celebrated by a specially-commissioned play in which Daniel Day-Lewis also took part.
Jill Balcon visited Birmingham in October last year to introduce a screening of Kind Hearts and Coronets, one of the most renowned productions from Ealing Studios, which was founded by her father.
Film producer Roger Shannon, who organised the event, said: “She was passionate about movies and film-making. She told a story about a moment when her son was not really clear about what direction to take in life.
“Michael Balcon was around, and perhaps because of his influence he didn’t become a cabinet-maker, he became an actor.
“She spoke very movingly about Birmingham and her father’s fondness for his home city. He brought his film Whisky Galore to show at his old school, George Dixon, before it was released – he turned up with the film and they made a makeshift cinema.
“A group of children from George Dixon interviewed Jill Balcon when she was here for a film they made about her. We were hoping to show it to her when she came again.”