Born 1926 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, British ballet dancer and actress Moira Shearer first came to the public’s attention as Posy Fossil in the advertisements for the Noel Streatfeild book Ballet Shoes while she was training under Flora Fairbairn, a good friend of Streatfeild’s.
Shearer achieved international success with her first film role as Victoria Page in the Powell & Pressburger ballet-themed film The Red Shoes (1948). Even her hair matched the titular footwear, and the role and film were so powerful that although she went on to star in other films and worked as a dancer for many decades, she is primarily known for playing “Vicky”.
Shearer retired from ballet in 1953, but she continued to act, appearing as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the 1954 Edinburgh Festival. She worked again for Powell on The Tales of Hoffmann and on the controversial film Peeping Tom (1960), which damaged Powell’s own career.
In 1972, Shearer was chosen by the BBC to present the Eurovision Song Contest when it was staged at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. She also wrote for The Daily Telegraph newspaper and gave talks on ballet worldwide.
The choreographer Gillian Lynne persuaded her to return to ballet in 1987 to play L. S. Lowry’s mother in A Simple Man for the BBC.
Shearer died in 2006 at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, England at the age of 80.
Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of young Moira Shearer in the 1940s and 1950s.