b. 14 May 1904, Lambeth, London

d. 2 October, 1984

Nèe Eileen Hellstern aka ‘Hell’ Montagu

Married Ivor Montagu in February (?) 1927

Eileen Hellstern was the daughter of surgical shoemaker Francis Anton Hellstern and Kate Mansfield. She was a typist when she secretly married Film Society founder Ivor Montagu in 1927 (Time, 7 March 1927). Their marriage was widely reported in the papers and created something of a scandal with headlines such as ‘Peers Son Weds Typist’ and ‘Peer’s Son Weds in Secret – Hon. Ivor Montagu and a Typist’ (e.g. the Express and Mail, 24 February 1927).

Director Adrian Brunel records working with Hellstern in his autobiography Nice Work (1949): ‘I enjoyed making the picture [The Vortex (1928), adapted from the play by Noel Coward]. One reason was that my floor secretary was Ivor Monatagu’s wife. “Hell”, the magnificent and incomparable’ (p. 133). Hell was also responsible for continuity on Bluebottles, Daydreams and The Tonic (1928), a series of comedy shorts directed by Montagu, based on ideas by H G Wells, and starring Elsa Lanchester.

Hell and Montagu spent some time in Hollywood with Sergei Eisenstein (see Ivor Montagu, With Eisenstein in Hollywood, 1968) but returned to England when Eisenstein left for Mexico.

The couple remained married until Hell’s death in October 1984; Ivor died the following month. (NM)

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Ivor Montagu Special Collection, BFI National Library

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