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This 19th century locket and necklace, sold by Reeman Dansie for £2800, was owned by Lady Mildred Steele, the American film actress of the 1930s better known as Mildred Shay.

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Its former owner was the late Lady Mildred Steele, the American film actress of the 1930s better known as Mildred Shay (1911-2005).

The petite Shay, just 5ft tall, was dubbed the ‘Pocket Venus’ by Hollywood gossip columnists who gorged on her glamorous social life and numerous affairs. After two marriages that had lasted less than a year each, she met British army captain and actor Geoffrey Steele and married again in 1941. “Most gave it three to six to months. Nobody gave us 40 years,” she recalled.

The couple remained married until Steele died in 1987. By repute, this necklace, c.1880, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France to a friend’s daughter prior to her marriage to Lieutenant- Colonel George Frederick Steele – Geoffrey Steele’s grandfather.