Birth Name: Sheila Cameron Hancock
Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
Sheila Hancock was born 22nd February 1933 on the Isle of Wight. She later moved to King's Cross in London where her mother and father ran a pub. Sheila went to Dartford Grammar School, and then with a grant she went to RADA. Sheila then went into 9 years of weekly rep around the country. While in Rep in Bath she meet actor Alec Ross, who she married in 1955 and had a daughter Melanie 'Ellie Jane' Thaw on 15th July 1964. Sheila's first big TV hit was her appearance in The Rag Trade in the early 1960s, her first theatre success was in Rattle of a Simple Man at the Garrick Theatre London. In 1969 Sheila starred in the West End hit So Want About Love? where she meet the actor John Thaw. The same year her mother died of cancer, followed nearly nine months later by Alec's tragic death. On 24th December 1973 she married John Thaw, with their daughters Melanie and Abigail present. On 27th July 1974 at Queen Charlotte's Hospital, Hammersmith, Sheila gave birth to her only child with John, Joanna Suzy Thaw. In the 1980s Sheila toured the UK with RSC and later with the National Theatre. In 1988 Sheila was told she had breast cancer, she fought and won her battle against it. She and Thaw split briefly during this period.

In the early 1990s Sheila and John bought a house in Luckington Wiltshire. As well as farm house in Provence in France. In 2001 John was told he had cancer. For nine months John fought against it, and with Sheila's help his privacy was protected. John died in Sheila's arms the day before her 69th birthday. Since his death Sheila has written a book called The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw, and has made numerous Television and stage appearance talking about the book and her life with John.

Sheila lives in Hammersmith near her daughters and grandchildren.


Married John Thaw on 24 December 1973 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

A breast cancer survivor, her first husband (divorced), actor Alec Ross, died of cancer in 1971 and her second husband, actor John Thaw, died of oesophagus cancer in 2002. She has been a spokesperson for Cancer BACUP.

Attended Dartford County Grammar School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Mother of actress Melanie Thaw, born 1964, (with first husband Alec Ross) and Joanna Thaw, born 1974, (with second husband John Thaw). When John Thaw married Hancock he decided to adopt Melanie officially, which is why she bears his surname.

An Associate Member of RADA.

Was nominated for Broadway's 1966 Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Entertaining Mr. Sloan."

She was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1974 Queen's Honours List for her services to drama.

Won her first Laurence Olivier award, for her role in Cabaret at the age of 73.

Became the Chancellor of The University of Portsmouth - May 16th 2007.

She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2011 Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to drama.

Personal Quotes

"I know how to build a block of flats. I have watched them for hours building the foundations. I've watched bricks being laid, like Lego. I've seen workers sacked. There is always something to engross you in life."

"I'm still learning how to enter a room on my own. From my dad to my first husband to my second husband, I've always had a man around. This week I went to a party at the National and going upstairs I met the designer Bob Crowley and asked him to hold my hand. But I always had John's hand in mine. We thought we were going off into the sunset together."

"The public are amazing. I know I can't over value it because it's not as real as one's friends love, but it's deeply touching and I was very grateful for it."

On being accepting the CBE being a devout Quaker: They said it was fine because it was for my work and it was earned.
Where Are They Now

(January 2005) Playing Mrs. Taggart in the Garrick Theatre, London production of The Anniversary, in the 1967 film of which she played the part of Karen.

(May 2007) Chancellor of University of Portsmouth in England

(October 2009) Playing the Reverend Mother in Sister Act at the London Palladium.

(December 2010) Soho, London, England

(February 2011) Soho, London, England