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Psyche Isabel Joan Altham
Missing required parameter 1=month! , 1912
|Spouse(s)||George Berkeley Sheffield|
Psyche Altham was a dancer, actress and racing driver who earned some fame in the early 1930s. She was a principal dancer with the Grosvenor House Cabaret for a time in the 1930s.
Psyche Isabel Joan Altham was born in 1912 and began dancing as a child, performing shows for her relatives at her aunt’s house Shelton New Hall in Norfolk, where she spent most of her childhood.
She performed publicly from the age of sixteen and appears to have mastered a number of dance styles.
One of her first reviewed appearances was in two “pastoral plays” put on by the Cambridge Players in August 1928. She was sixteen at the time. In the second of the two pieces, “As if Fell Upon a Day,” she performed as “Princess Camilla” and was part of the finale.
She danced alongside a cabaret troupe called “The Cygnes Four” on Boxing Day 1932. As part of the same event, she performed with the ballet dancer Anton Dolin.
In June 1934, she appeared in Frances Gregory’s “Precipice” at the Savoy Theatre. The play combined ballet and drama in a tale of a male dancer in love with a widow. The main role was played by Anton Dolin.
At the time, she was apparently in a relationship with renowned racing driver Whitney Straight. The Magnette was probably his car.
As an actress she was contracted to appear at Oxford Playhouse in a 1933 production of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”. The vice-chancellor of Oxford banned the play.
After her marriage to George Berkeley Sheffield in 1935 she was less active on the stage although she did not retire completely. In 1937, she demonstrated her tap-dancing ability at the Sevenoaks Repertory Theatre, opening “Squibs and Crackers” with a dance number to “Tap Those Blues Away” by Nancy Job. The show was in aid of the Sevenoaks and District Nursing Association.
During the Second World War she put her racing experience into practice and served in the Mechanised Transport Corps, reaching the rank of Commandant. This was equivalent to Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army.
She died in 1945.
- "Life at Shelford New Hall - Little Shelford History". www.littleshelfordhistory.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
- "The Cambridge Players". Bury Free Press: 8 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Record Christmas at Leas Cliff Hall". Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald: 11 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- ""Precipice"". The Stage. 1934 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- Williams, Richard (2020). A Race With Love and Death. Simon & Schuster.
- Chapman, Don (2008). Oxford Playhouse: High and Low Drama in a University City. University of Hertfordshire Press.
- ""Squibs and Crackers"". Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser. 1937.
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