by John Howard
One of the things that I picked up growing up was that men of a certain age in the village that I lived in were very respectful to my mum and it took me a few years to cotton on to why this was. For many of these middle-aged chaps (of which I am now one) remembered her from the days when she featured on live TV drama in Britain and they still regarded her as something of a celebrity – along with my dad. You can find out some more about them, and the rest of the clan, here: www.swingthegate.co.uk.
Kathleen Emmett Callard was born in Mount Dennis, Toronto, Canada on 10 November 1927 Her father Richard was a gifted cabinet maker, joiner and model maker from Devon in England who had emigrated in the period just before WWI. Her mother was a writer and journalist who had studied at McGill University in Montreal.
Kay was educated in Canada and came to England shortly before the outbreak of WWII. She studied art at Twickenham College before joining the Ordnance Survey as a map maker and illustrator. After the war she moved first to the US with her first husband Wayne Drewery. She worked in Hollywood for a time but was unable to make a big break and returned to Canada.
In Sarnia, Ontario Kay worked in advertising and in local journalism for a time before returning to England to pursue a career in films. She was spotted by Anglo Amalgamated, who signed her to her first three picture deal.
During the 1950s and early 1960s Kay Callard was contracted to studio production companies/distributors Anglo Amalgamated and Danziger Photoplays.
Anglo Amalgamated was owned by entrepreneurs Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy. It was famous for, among other productions, all the Carry On films up to 1966. Visit the British Film Institute website [http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/839029/] for a brief history of the company.
Kay made a number of pictures for A-A including Cat Girl, The Hypnotist, Escapement (aka The Electronic Monster) and The Flying Scot among others. You can watch The Hypnotist here http://free-classic-movies.com/movies-05/05-1957-07-29-The-Hypnotist/index.php
Danziger Photoplays was owned by American brothers Harry and Edward Danziger who founded New Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire in 1956. According to the BFI profile of the company their prolific output represented ‘quantity over quality’ and was ubiquitous throughout the decade, ‘forming a part of virtually every British filmgoer's and television viewer's experience during those years.’
Films that Kay made for the Danzigers included The Great Van Robbery, Links of Justice, Top Floor Girl, and, A Woman Possessed. The Danziger brothers also produced the TV series The Vise and Kay starred in several episodes.
In England, Kay was perhaps most famous for her role as Kate Parrish in the Granada TV series Knight Errant. She played the character of Liz Parrish for 36 episodes between 1959 and 1960 and 13 episodes of The Vise from 1955 to 1959.
Knight Errant was very demanding with a busy ‘live’ shooting schedule at the Granada Television studios in Manchester. It was the first show of its kind on British television and the forerunner of programmes like The Avengers.
More recently she appeared in several episodes of Lovejoy as a supporting artiste and as Nanny Campbell-Black in the 1993 TV adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s Riders.