On this day in history : 7th October 1914 – The birth of English actress, dancer and member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, Sarah Churchill – who was also the daughter of Winston Churchill….

Sarah Churchill in 1966 – Image : Dutch National Archives CCO

Sarah Millicent Hermoine Churchill was the third child and second daughter of Winston and Clementine Churchill…. Little is known about her childhood other than that she was born in London and was educated at Notting Hill High School before boarding at North Foreland Lodge, an independent school for girls in Kent…. It is thought that she was a bit of a loner but had a wild side to her character…. Unlike her brother and sisters she did not want to follow in her father’s footsteps….

After leaving school Sarah studied ballet and began performing professionally at the age of 21…. It was at this time that she met popular Austrian comedian Vic Oliver, who was to become her first husband – but not with the blessing of her parents….

During World War 2 Sarah joined the Women’s Air Force and worked in photo intelligence, a job she was good at…. She accompanied her father on trips to Teheran and Yalta….and was to have an affair with American ambassador John Winart…. By the end of the War her marriage was over….

Sarah Churchill with her father Winston Churchill – From the collections of the Imperial War Museums – Public domain

Following the War Sarah relocated to the United States and became an actress…. Her best known role was as Anne Ashmond in the 1951 film Royal Wedding, in which she played opposite Fred Astaire as the love interest of his character Tom Bowen…. She also appeared in He Found A Star (1941), All Over the Town (1949), Fabian of the Yard (1954) and Serious Change (1959)….

Sarah Churchill in ‘Royal Wedding’ – Public domain

She was to marry again, this time to photographer Anthony Beauchamp – but once again with the disapproval of her parents…. They did not even meet their new son-in-law until after the marriage had taken place…. Although Clementine tried to be civil to him, as she had with her daughter’s first husband, Sarah’s father remained frosty with both….

Sarah continued to work as an actress appearing on Broadway and television – and then after eight years of marriage Anthony was to die after taking an overdose of sleeping pills….

In 1962 Sarah was to marry yet again – this time very much with the approval of her parents…. Her new husband was Thomas Percy Henry Touchet-Jesson, the 23rd Baron Audley – making her The Right Honourable Lady Audley…. A year later Sarah was to become a widow again….

She continued with her acting career until 1971…. By now the effects of her alcoholism were beginning to show…. She had been drinking heavily since the 1950s and had been arrested on a number of occasions for causing a scene in the street – even spending a short spell in Holloway Prison….

On the 24th of September 1982 Sarah died at the age of 67 after having an undisclosed illness…. She is said to have died in her sleep…. She is buried with her parents and three of her siblings at St. Martin’s Church, Bladon, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire….

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