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Dame Maggie Smith

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Dame Maggie Smith

Dame
Maggie Smith
DBE
Born Margaret Natalie Smith
(1934-12-28) 28 December 1934 (age 79)
Ilford, Essex, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Oxford High School for Girls
Oxford Playhouse
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952–present
Spouse(s) Robert Stephens
(m. 1967–1974; divorced)
Beverley Cross
(m. 1975–1998; his death)
Children Chris Larkin (b. 1967)
Toby Stephens (b. 1969)
Relatives Anna-Louise Plowman
(daughter-in-law)

Dame Margaret Natalie "Maggie" Smith, DBE (born 28 December 1934) is a British film, stage and television actress. She made her stage debut in 1952 and has had an extensive, varied career in stage, film and television spanning over sixty years. Smith has appeared in over 50 films and is one of Britain's most recognisable actresses.

She first drew praise for the crime film Nowhere to Go (1958), for which she received her first BAFTA Award nomination.[1] Her 1965 film role as Desdemona, in William Shakespeare's Othello, earned her an Academy Award nomination (the first of her six)[2] and a Golden Globe nomination. Since then Smith has worked consistently in film, television and stage, establishing herself as one of the most respected British actresses. Her most notable films include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Travels with My Aunt, Murder by Death, California Suite, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, A Private Function, A Room with a View, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Gosford Park and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She has also appeared in a number of widely popular films, including Clash of the Titans, Hook, both Sister Act films, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the highly successful Harry Potter film series. She currently stars in the critically acclaimed drama Downton Abbey as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, for which she has won a Golden Globe and two consecutive Emmy awards.

She has won numerous awards for her acting in theatre, film and television; including seven BAFTA Awards (five competitive awards and two special awards including the BAFTA Fellowship in 1996), two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award and an Honorary Olivier Award. Smith is one of the few actresses to have won the Triple Crown of Acting.[3] In September 2012, she was honoured with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Legacy Award.[4] She accepted the award, presented to her by Christopher Plummer, in a star-studded ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

She is one of only five actresses to win Oscars in both lead and supporting categories.[5]

Early life

Smith was born in Ilford, Essex, England; she moved to Oxford when she was four. She is the daughter of Margaret Smith (née Hutton), a Glasgow-born secretary, and Nathaniel Smith, a Newcastle upon Tyne-born public health pathologist who worked at Oxford University.[6][7][8][9][10] As a child, Smith's parents used to tell her the romantic story of how they had met on the train from Glasgow to London via Newcastle. She has older twin brothers, Alistair and Ian, who went to architecture school.[11] Smith studied at Oxford High School until age 16 when she left to study acting at the Oxford Playhouse.[12]

Career

In 1952, under the auspices of the Oxford University Dramatic Society, Smith began her career as Viola at the Oxford Playhouse and made her first film in 1956.[13] Her first professional performance was on Broadway in the review New Faces of '56.[14] She became a fixture at the Royal National Theatre in the 1960s, most notably for playing Desdemona in Othello opposite Laurence Olivier and earning her first Oscar nomination for her performance in the 1965 film version.She also played the title role in Ingmar Bergman's production of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" and appeared opposite Olivier in the same playwright's "The Master Builder". Her gift for comedy was apparent in plays such as "The Recruiting Officer" (Farquhar) and as Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing", staged by Zeffirelli.

She appeared with Ronnie Barker at the Oxford Playhouse in the play The Housemaster and various others.


In 1969, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as an unorthodox Scottish schoolteacher in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a role originally created on stage by Vanessa Redgrave in 1966 in London. (Zoe Caldwell won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play when she created the role in New York.) Smith was also awarded the 1978 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the brittle actress Diana Barry in California Suite, acting opposite Michael Caine. Afterward, on hearing that Michael Palin was about to embark on a film (The Missionary) with Smith, Caine is supposed to have humorously telephoned Palin, warning him that she would steal the film. She also starred with Palin in the black comedy A Private Function in 1984.

Smith appeared in Sister Act in 1992 and had a major role in the 1999 film Tea with Mussolini, where she appeared as the formidable Lady Hester. Indeed, many of her more mature roles have centred on what Smith refers to as her "gallery of grotesques", playing waspish, sarcastic or plain rude characters. Recent examples of this would include the judgmental sister in Ladies in Lavender and the cantankerous snob Constance, Countess of Trentham, in Gosford Park, for which she received another Oscar nomination.

Other notable roles include the querulous Charlotte Bartlett in the Merchant Ivory production of A Room with a View, a vivid supporting turn as the aged Duchess of York in Ian McKellen's film of Richard III, and a little known but powerful performance as Lila Fisher in the 1973 film Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing with Timothy Bottoms. Due to the international success of the Harry Potter movies, she is now widely known for playing the role of Professor Minerva McGonagall, opposite Daniel Radcliffe, with whom she had previously worked in the 1999 BBC television adaptation of David Copperfield, playing Betsey Trotwood. Smith was Rowling's personal choice for the role of Minerva, a role she had played in seven of the eight films in the series and had been nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress. She also plays an older Wendy in the Peter Pan movie Hook, and Mrs. Medlock in The Secret Garden.

In 2010, she started appearing as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the British period drama Downton Abbey, which is currently in its fourth series.

In 2012, she earned another Golden Globe Awards nomination (her ninth) for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for series 1 of Downton Abbey.[15] Smith has won two Emmy Awards for this role.[16] In 2013, she received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Downton Abbey season 2.[17]

She appeared in numerous productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, to acclaim from 1976 through 1980. These roles included Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth, Virginia Woolf in Virginia, and countless lead roles with long-time Stratford icon Brian Bedford including the Noël Coward comedy Private Lives. In September 2012, Smith received the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival Legacy Award, recognizing her career.

On stage, her many roles have included the title character in the stage production of Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van and starring as Amanda in a revival of Private Lives. She won a Tony Award in 1990 for Best Actress in a Play for Peter Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage, in which she starred as an eccentric tour guide in an English stately home. In 2007, she appeared in Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque at Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Her five Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress in the theatre are for Peter Shaffer's Private Ear and Public Eye (1962), Ingmar Bergman's production of Hedda Gabler (1970), Edna O'Brien's 'Virginia' (1981), Millamant in The Way of the World by William Congreve (1984), and for Three Tall Women by Edward Albee in 1994.[18]

She appeared in a 1954 BBC television programme, Oxford Accents, produced by Ned Sherrin.[19] She was one of the performers, playing several roles, in New Faces of 1956 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre from 14 June to 22 December 1956.[20][21] She was "in Orange" in the musical comedy Share My Lettuce, based on the book by Bamber Gascoigne, that opened at the Lyric Hammersmith on 21 August 1957. With Anthony Bowles as musical director, it transferred to the Comedy Theatre on 25 September 1957 and to the Garrick Theatre on 27 January 1958. Smith's musical numbers in this performance included: Love's Cocktail (solo), On Train He'll Come (solo), Party Games (solo), Bubble Man (with Kenneth Williams) and Menu (with Kenneth Williams).[22] Eight photos from this performance as well as an article on Smith appeared in the November 1957 issue of Theatre World magazine.[23] One of Smith's earliest acting citations was as nominee for Most Promising Newcomer to Film of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for Nowhere To Go in 1958.[24] In Hollywood, Smith was a nominee for the Golden Globe Awards New Star of the Year (Actress) in 1964 for her performance in The V.I.P.s.


In 2012, Smith played Muriel in the British comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She also starred as Jean Horton in Quartet, based on Ronald Harwood's play, directed by Dustin Hoffman.

Smith was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1970 New Year Honours[25] and was raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in the 1990 New Year Honours.[26]

In 1986, she was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from the University of Bath.[27] She also received honorary degrees from the University of St Andrews in 1971 and the University of Cambridge in 1995.[28]

In 1999, Smith received the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre (The Will Award) presented by the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC.[29]

Personal life

Smith has been married twice. She married actor Robert Stephens on 29 June 1967 at Greenwich Register Office, ten days after the birth of their first child. The couple had two sons, actors Chris Larkin (born in 1967) and Toby Stephens (born in 1969),[9] and divorced on 6 May 1974.[9] Smith is a grandmother via both her sons.[30][31]

She married playwright Beverley Cross on 23 August 1975 at the Guildford Register Office; he died on 20 March 1998. When asked if she was lonely, she replied, "[on Cross's death] I don’t know. It seems a bit pointless. Going on one’s own and not having someone to share it with."[32]

In January 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves disease and has been undergoing treatments of radiotherapy and surgery on the eyes.[33] In 2007, the Sunday Telegraph's Mandrake diary disclosed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was subsequently reported to have made a full recovery.[34]

Smith has also been involved in charity work. In September 2011, she offered her support for raising the $4.6 million needed to rebuild the Court Theatre in New Zealand after the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.[35] In July 2012, she became a patron of the International Glaucoma Association, hoping to support the organisation and raise the profile of glaucoma.[36] On 27 November 2012, Smith contributed a unique piece of art – a drawing of her own hand – to the 2012 Celebrity Paw Auction, in order to raise funds for Cats Protection.[37]

Work

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1956 Child in the House Party guest Uncredited
1958 Nowhere to Go Bridget Howard Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
1962 Go to Blazes Chantal
1963 V.I.P.s, TheThe V.I.P.s Miss Mead Also known as Hotel International
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1964 Pumpkin Eater, TheThe Pumpkin Eater Philpot
1965 Othello Desdemona Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Young Cassidy Nora Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1967 Honey Pot, TheThe Honey Pot Sarah Watkins
1968 Hot Millions Patty Terwilliger Smith
1969 Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, TheThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Jean Brodie Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Laurel Award for Best Female Dramatic Performance (4th place)
Nominated — National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (3rd place)
Oh! What a Lovely War Music Hall Star Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (3rd place)
1972 Travels with My Aunt Aunt Augusta Bertram Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1973 Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing Lila Fisher
1976 Murder by Death Dora Charleston
1978 Death on the Nile Miss Bowers Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
California Suite Diana Barrie Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner-up)
1981 Quartet Lois Heidler Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Clash of the Titans Thetis Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1982 Evil Under the Sun Daphne Castle
Missionary, TheThe Missionary Lady Isabel Ames
1983 Better Late Than Never Miss Anderson
1984 Private Function, AA Private Function Joyce Chilvers BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Lily in Love Lily Wynn
1985 Room with a View, AA Room with a View Charlotte Bartlett BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1987 Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, TheThe Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Judith Hearne BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress
1990 Romeo.Juliet Rosaline Voice only
1991 Hook Wendy Darling
1992 Sister Act Reverend Mother Nominated — American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1993 Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Reverend Mother
Secret Garden, TheThe Secret Garden Mrs. Medlock Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1995 Richard III Duchess of York
1996 First Wives Club, TheThe First Wives Club Gunilla Garson Goldberg National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1997 Washington Square Aunt Lavinia Penniman Nominated — Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress
1999 Curtain Call Lily Marlowe The film was later re-released under the title It All Came True
Last September, TheThe Last September Lady Myra Naylor
Tea with Mussolini Lady Hester Random BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2001 Gosford Park Constance, Countess of Trentham Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cast
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Motion Picture
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — European Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated — National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner-up)
Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner-up)
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner-up)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Professor Minerva McGonagall Released in the US and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Professor Minerva McGonagall Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Caro Eliza Bennett
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Professor Minerva McGonagall
Ladies in Lavender Janet Widdington Nominated — European Film Award for Best Actress
2005 Keeping Mum Grace Hawkins
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Professor Minerva McGonagall
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Professor Minerva McGonagall
Becoming Jane Lady Gresham
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Professor Minerva McGonagall
From Time to Time Linnet Oldknow
2010 Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang Mrs. Agatha Docherty Released in the US and Canada as Nanny McPhee Returns
2011 Gnomeo & Juliet Lady Bluebury Voice only
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Professor Minerva McGonagall
2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Muriel Donnelly Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Comedic Actress
Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Quartet Jean Horton Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2014 My Old Lady[38] Mathilde Giffard Filming

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1955 BBC Sunday-Night Theatre TV series (1 episode: "The Makepeace Story #3: Family Business")
1956 Theatre Royal Paula Benson Also known as Lilli Palmer Theatre
TV series (1 episode: "Death Under the City")
1957 The Adventures of Aggie Fiona Frobisher-Smith TV series (1 episode: "Cobalt Blue")
Kraft Television Theatre TV series (1 episode: "Night of the Plague")
ITV Play of the Week Susie/Fairy/Dixie Evens/Lois Ardsley/Jackie Coryton TV series (5 episodes: 1957-1960)
1958 Chelsea at Nine TV series (1 episode)
Armchair Theatre Julie TV series (3 episodes: 1958-1960)
1959 ITV Television Playhouse Elaine TV series (2 episodes)
1966 ITV Play of the Week Victoria TV series (1 episode: "Home and Beauty")
1967 Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice TV movie
1968 Man and Superman Ann Whitefield TV video-taped drama (Play of the Month, BBC)
The Seagull Irina Arkadina TV video-taped drama (Play of the Month, BBC)
ITV Playhouse Mrs. Wislack TV series (1 episode: "On Approval")
1972 The Merchant of Venice Portia TV video-taped drama (Play of the Month, BBC)
The Millionairess Epifania TV video-taped drama (Play of the Month, BBC)
1983 All for Love Mrs Silly TV series (1 episode: "Mrs Silly")
Nominated — BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
1988 Talking Heads Susan TV series (1 episode: "A Bed Among the Lentils")
RTS Television Award for Best Actor - Female
Nominated — BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
1992 Screen Two Mrs. Mabel Pettigrew TV series (1 episode: "Memento Mori")
Nominated — BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
1993 Great Performances Violet Venable TV series (1 episode: "Suddenly, Last Summer")
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1999 All the King's Men Queen Alexandra TV movie
David Copperfield Betsey Trotwood TV movie
Nominated — BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
2003 My House in Umbria Emily Delahunty TV movie
Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2007 Capturing Mary Mary Gilbert TV movie
Nominated — Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
2010–Present Downton Abbey Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham TV series (25 episodes: 2010–present)
Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2012)
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2012)
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2012)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2012)
Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (2011)
TV Times Award for Best Actress (2011)
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2013)
Nominated — TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress (2012, 2013)
Nominated — BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress (2012)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2012)
Nominated — Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress (2011)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2011)
Nominated — Monte-Carlo Television Festival Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (2011,[39] 2013)
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2011)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie (2011)

Theatre

Awards and nominations

See also

  • British Film Institute Fellowship

Bibliography

  • Victor Gollancz Ltd, September 1992.

References

External links

  • AllRovi
  • Screenonline
  • Internet Broadway Database
  • Internet Movie Database
  • TCM Movie Database
  • Maggie Smith at Emmys.com
  • The Guardian, 20 November 2004, in-depth interview and profile.
  • Maggie Smith Biography

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