Alfred Hitchcock described his third film, The Lodger, as the true beginning of his directorial career but it would prove a near fatal screen debut for its leading light June Tripp

December 1925 was a busy month for June. A fixture of the West End stage since childhood, her surname, Tripp, had been excised by the impresario Charles B Cochran because it “sounds a bit comical for a dancer”. She spent the days rehearsing for a musical, Kid Boots, the evenings starring in another, Mercenary Mary, and then would “rush to the studio at midnight”, to act in a horse-racing short film opposite the fading American film star Carlyle Blackwell. The studio was at Poole Street, Islington, in north London, built five years earlier by Paramount but now rented out, most often to a British company, Gainsborough, run by Michael Balcon.

The short, Riding for a King, starred the celebrated jockey Steve Donoghue and had its premiere in January 1926, with June in attendance. Two days later, she collapsed during a performance of Mercenary Mary and shortly after underwent an appendectomy. Daily Express readers subsequently learned that she would “not be able to dance for six months”. By February, she was recuperating on the Riviera. It was there that she received a telegram from her old friend Ivor Novello, who offered film work. “No dancing required. You will act beautifully and we shall have fun.”

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