West Bromwich, Birmingham, England
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
The 39 Steps
Profile Bio Text
Edith Madeleine Carroll (26 February 1906 – 2 October 1987) was an English-American actress, popular both in Britain and America in the 1930s and 1940s. At the peak of her success she was the highest paid actress in the world, earning a then staggering $250,000 in 1938.
Carroll is remembered for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. She is also noted for abandoning her acting career after the death of her sister Marguerite in the London Blitz, to devote herself to helping wounded servicemen and children displaced and maimed by the war.
Carroll was born at 32 Herbert Street (now number 44) in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, daughter of John Carroll, an Irish professor of languages from Co. Limerick, and Helene, his French wife. She graduated from the University of Birmingham, with a B.A. degree. She once taught in a girls' public school.
She divorced her first husband Colonel Philip Reginald Astley in 1939. He was an estate agent, big-game hunter and soldier. In 1941 she starred opposite Sterling Hayden in Virginia. They married in February 1942, and divorced in May 1946.
After her only sister Marguerite was killed in World War II's London Blitz, Carroll made a radical shift from acting to working in field hospitals as a Red Cross nurse. Having become a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1943, she served at the American Army Air Force's 61st Station Hospital in Foggia, Italy in 1944, where wounded airmen flying out of area air bases were hospitalized.
During the war Carroll also donated her chateau outside Paris to more than 150 orphans, arranging for groups of young people in California to knit clothing for them. In an RKO-Pathe News bulletin she was filmed at the chateau with children and staff wearing the donated clothes thanking those who contributed. She was awarded the Legion d'Honneur for her efforts by France. Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower remarked in private that he was most impressed with Carroll and Herbert Marshall (who worked with military amputees) of all the movie stars he met in Europe during the war.
After the war, Carroll stayed in Europe where she conducted a radio program fostering French-American friendship and helped in the rehabilitation of concentration camp victims, during which she met her future third husband, French producer Henri Lavorel. In late 1946, she went briefly to Switzerland to film a British soap opera, High Fury (aka White Cradle Inn).
Upon her return to Paris she and Lavorel formed a production company and made several two-reel documentaries to “promote better understanding among the peoples of the world”; one, “Childrens’ Republic”, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Filmed in a small orphanage in the town of Sèvres, just southwest of Paris, it focused attention on the devastation of children’s lives in Europe caused by war. Strongly shown in Canada, it became a prime source of funds for the manufacture of artificial limbs for wounded children.
In 1947 Carroll returned to the U.S. together with Lavorel. Their intention was for her to resume her acting career, which would fund their production company, but they soon separated. Appearing in three more films until 1949, and debuting on Broadway in 1948, Carroll then mostly retired from acting, although she would occasionally show up on television and radio until the mid-1960s.
She married Andrew Heiskell, publisher of Life, in 1950, and they had a daughter Anne in 1951. They divorced in 1965. By then Carroll had moved to Paris. She would later move to Spain, where she shared an estate with her mother and daughter. Her mother died in 1975, and her daughter, having relocated to New York, died in 1983.
Carroll died on 2 October 1987 from pancreatic cancer in Marbella, Spain age 81. Initially interred in Fuengirola, Málaga, she was reburied in 1998 in the cemetery of Sant Antoni de Calonge in Catalonia.
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Edith Madeleine Carroll
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Edith Madeleine Carroll (26 February 1906 – 2 October 1987) was an English actress, popular both in Britain and America in the 1930s and 1940s. At the peak of her success she was the highest paid actress in the world, earning a then staggering $250,000 in 1938.
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Madeleine Carroll died on 2nd October, 1987. Her last relationship was with Andrew Heiskell, they were married for 15 years.
During her life she was married to Andrew Heiskell from 1950 to 1965, Sterling Hayden from 1942 to 1946 and Captain Phillip Astley from 1931 to 1940.
She also dated Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1938, Tyrone Power in 1938 and Robert Donat.
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