Jan Holden
Valerie Jeanne Wilkinson (9 May 1931 – 11 October 2005) was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 actress who was known as Jan Holden.

Jan Holden was a stage actress
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 known for her performances in light comedy and also for her appearances in several popular television series during the 1950s and 1960s. She was an elegant woman notable for her arresting pale blue eyes. She made her West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 debut in 1958 in "Speaking of Murder" at St Martin's Theatre
St Martin's Theatre
St Martin's Theatre is a West End theatre, located in West Street, near Charing Cross Road, in the London Borough of Camden. It was designed as one of a pair of theatres with the Ambassadors Theatre by W.G.R...

, which was followed by "The Tunnel of Love", a farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

 at the Apollo Theatre
Apollo Theatre
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster. Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, and the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street, its doors opened on 21 February 1901 with the American...

. She took her mother's maiden name for her stage name.

She was born in Southport
Southport is a seaside town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. During the 2001 census Southport was recorded as having a population of 90,336, making it the eleventh most populous settlement in North West England...

, Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

 and spent her early childhood in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Her father was a senior manager at the Swadeshi cotton mill
Cotton mill
A cotton mill is a factory that houses spinning and weaving machinery. Typically built between 1775 and 1930, mills spun cotton which was an important product during the Industrial Revolution....

s in Kanpur. Aged six, she and her twin brother Geoffrey were sent to a school in the hills near Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

. This took a two day train journey. The term lasted nine months and there were three months at home during the cool season. The schools were not mixed, so she and her brother only met at church on Sundays.

On the outbreak of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, she and her mother returned to England, where she boarded at Lowther College
Lowther College
Lowther College was a private school for girls in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The school was originally formed in 1896 at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, by Mrs. Florence Morris ....

 in North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

. When the war ended, her mother returned to India and Jan stayed with school friends.

At 18, she was offered places at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is a drama school located in London, United Kingdom. It is generally regarded as one of the most renowned drama schools in the world, and is one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom, having been founded in 1904.RADA is an affiliate school of the...

 (RADA), the Old Vic School and at the Bristol Old Vic
Bristol Old Vic
The Bristol Old Vic is a theatre company based at the Theatre Royal, King Street, in Bristol, England. The theatre complex includes the 1766 Theatre Royal, which claims to be the oldest continually-operating theatre in England, along with a 1970s studio theatre , offices and backstage facilities...

. Her father declined to pay, as he disapproved of her ambition to go on the stage. Eventually he was persuaded to allow her to take a directors' course at the Old Vic
Old Vic
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian...

. She was one of two pupils selected to be assistant stage managers at the Old Vic.

She then turned to repertory, where she met her first husband, the actor Edwin Richfield
Edwin Richfield
Edwin Richfield was an English actor.His film credits include: X the Unknown, Quatermass 2, The Camp on Blood Island, The Face of Fu Manchu and Quatermass and the Pit....

 who appeared in the television series "The Buccaneers". They were married in 1952, while they were appearing in a stage version of "The Blue Lamp". They had three children.

Her television credits included "Fabian of the Yard
Fabian of the Yard
Fabian of the Yard was a British police procedural television series based on the real-life memoirs of Scotland Yard detective Robert Fabian, made by the BBC and broadcast between November 1954 and February 1956. It is considered the earliest police procedural to be made for British TV, sharing...

", "Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents, is a 1950s syndicated anthology series hosted and occasionally starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.. The series offered Buster Keaton in his first dramatic role in the episode entitled "The Awakening". British actor Christopher Lee appeared in varied role in thirteen...

", "The Champions
The Champions
The Champions is a British espionage/science fiction/occult detective fiction adventure series consisting of 30 episodes broadcast on the UK network ITV during 1968–1969, produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company...

", "The Vice
The Vice
Vice is a stock character of the medieval morality plays. While the main character of these plays was representative of every human being , the other characters were representative of personified virtues or vices who sought to win control of man's soul...

", "The Avengers
The Avengers (TV series)
The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series set in the 1960s Britain. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed . Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants...

", "The Cheaters", "The Saint
The Saint (TV series)
The Saint was an ITC mystery spy thriller television series that aired in the UK on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It centred on the Leslie Charteris literary character, Simon Templar, a Robin Hood-like adventurer with a penchant for disguise. The character may be nicknamed The Saint because the...

", "The Baron
The Baron
The Baron is a British television series, made in 1965/66 based on the book series by John Creasey, written under the pseudonym Anthony Morton, and produced by ITC Entertainment. It was the first ITC show without marionettes to be produced entirely in colour...

","Harper's West One", "Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served? is a British sitcom broadcast from 1972 to 1985. It was set in the ladies' and gentlemen's clothing departments of Grace Brothers, a large, fictional London department store. It was written mainly by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, with contributions by Michael Knowles and John...

", Casanova '73
Casanova '73
Casanova '73 was a short-lived British sitcom broadcast on BBC1 in 1973. It was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and starred Leslie Phillips as Henry Newhouse...

, "Agony
Agony (TV series)
Agony is a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1979 to 1981. Starring Maureen Lipman, it was written by Len Richmond, Anna Raeburn, Stan Hey and Andrew Nickolds. It was made for the ITV network by LWT...

" and "O Happy Band!".

Her film appearances included The Best House in London
The Best House in London
The Best House in London is a 1969 British comedy film directed by Philip Saville and starring David Hemmings, Joanna Pettet, George Sanders, Warren Mitchell, John Bird, Maurice Denham and Bill Fraser.-Cast:...

(with David Hemmings
David Hemmings
David Edward Leslie Hemmings was an English film, theatre and television actor as well as a film and television director and producer....

), The Camp on Blood Island
The Camp on Blood Island
The Camp on Blood Island is a 1958 British World War II film, directed by Val Guest for Hammer Film Productions and starring Carl Möhner, André Morrel, Edward Underdown and Walter Fitzgerald....

(1958), The Stranglers of Bombay
The Stranglers of Bombay
The Stranglers of Bombay is a 1959 adventure/horror film directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Films dealing with the British East India Company's investigation of the Cult of Thuggee stranglers in the 1830s...

(1960), High Flight
High Flight (film)
High Flight is a CinemaScope 1957 British coldwar drama film directed by John Gilling and featuring Ray Milland, Bernard Lee and Leslie Phillips filmed at RAF Cranwell.-Plot:...

(with Ray Milland
Ray Milland
Ray Milland was a Welsh actor and director. His screen career ran from 1929 to 1985, and he is best remembered for his Academy Award–winning portrayal of an alcoholic writer in The Lost Weekend , a sophisticated leading man opposite a corrupt John Wayne in Reap the Wild Wind , the murder-plotting...

) and Work Is a Four-Letter Word
Work Is a Four-Letter Word
-External links:*...

(with David Warner
David Warner (actor)
David Warner is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, both in film and animation...

 and Cilla Black
Cilla Black
Cilla Black OBE is an English singer, actress, entertainer and media personality, who has been consistently popular as a light entertainment figure since 1963. She is most famous for her singles Anyone Who Had A Heart, You're My World, and Alfie...

). She also appeared in The Haunted House of Horror
The Haunted House of Horror (1969 film)
The Haunted House of Horror, also titled Horror House and The Dark, was an early type of teen "slasher film" set in late 60's England. It starred Frankie Avalon and Jill Haworth as young adults looking for a thrill by spending the night in an old mansion in the English countryside. Although...


She was heartbroken when her twin brother drowned during the early 1960s and her marriage broke down in 1973, leaving her with three teenage children to raise. One of her twin daughters died from a brain tumour
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

 in 1999, and Holden was in poor health herself during her final two decades. She remained cheerful and courageous.

Jan Holden remarried in 1988 to Louis Manson, a solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

and business executive, who survived her, with a son and a daughter from her first marriage, as well as two stepdaughters and four stepsons.

External links

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