Gayle Jenkins, known as Lady Jenkins after her marriage to journalist Simon Jenkins, was a talented American actress who graced the stages and screens of Hollywood and beyond. Her career spanned more than three decades, during which she left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Born on February 6, 1943, in Fort Worth, Texas, Jenkins had a captivating presence that earned her a special place in the hearts of many.
Early Life and Education
Gayle Jenkins was the daughter of Colonel Sam Lloyd Hunnicutt and Mary Virginia Hunnicutt (née Dickerson). Her journey into the world of acting began after she attended the University of California, Los Angeles, on a scholarship where she studied English literature and theater. Before stepping into the limelight, she pursued a career in fashion modeling, showcasing her beauty and poise.
Jenkins embarked on her acting career with a flair that was hard to ignore. In her early film roles, she often played the part of a sultry brunette, capturing the attention of audiences and casting directors alike. One of her notable roles was as Emaline Fetty, a cunning con artist, in two episodes of the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies in 1966.
Her talents were further showcased when she starred alongside James Garner in the detective film Marlowe (1969), where she portrayed a glamorous Hollywood actress.
A significant turning point in Jenkins’ career occurred when she moved to England with her husband, David Hemmings, in 1970. This move allowed her to explore a broader range of roles. She and Hemmings co-starred in two horror films in the early 1970s: Fragment of Fear (1970) and Voices (1973).
Jenkins also impressed viewers with her portrayal of Charlotte Stant in the television adaptation of Henry James’s novel The Golden Bowl (1972) and as Lionel’s wife in The Legend of Hell House (1973). Her portrayal of Tsarina Alexandra in the television miniseries Fall of Eagles (1974) further solidified her status as a versatile actress.
One of her memorable television appearances was as Irene Adler opposite Jeremy Brett in the first episode of the TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (“A Scandal in Bohemia,” 1984). She also graced the small screen in an episode of HBO’s Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1983), showcasing her acting prowess alongside Powers Boothe. In 1985, she took on a supporting role in the thriller Target, co-starring with Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon.
Jenkins returned to the United States in 1989 to play the role of Vanessa Beaumont in the popular TV series Dallas, a role she held until 1991.
In 2012, she made a special appearance on the HGTV reality show Selling London, which gave fans a glimpse into her life beyond the camera.
Apart from her acting career, Gayle Jenkins was a talented writer. She authored two books during her lifetime. Her first book, titled Health and Beauty in Motherhood, was published in 1984. In 2004, she released Dearest Virginia: Love Letters from a Cavalry Officer in the South Pacific, a touching compilation of letters exchanged by her parents during World War II.
Personal Life and Death
In her personal life, Jenkins had several significant relationships. She married British actor David Hemmings on November 16, 1968, and they had a son, actor Nolan Hemmings. Unfortunately, their marriage ended in divorce in 1975.
She then married journalist Simon Jenkins in 1978, and the couple lived in Primrose Hill, London, where they raised their son Edward. Simon Jenkins received the prestigious title of Knight Bachelor for his contributions to journalism in the 2004 New Year honors. However, their marriage also ended, with a divorce in 2009.
In 2010, Jenkins found love again and began dating Richard Evans, the tennis correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.
Sadly, on August 31, 2023, Gayle Jenkins passed away at the age of 80, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional talent and a lifetime of memories for her fans and loved ones. Her contributions to the world of entertainment and literature continue to be celebrated and cherished.