Maggie Smith

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Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, DBE (born 28 December 1934), better known as Maggie Smith, is an English film, stage, and television actress who made her stage debut in 1952 and is still performing after 59 years. She has won numerous awards for acting, both for the stage and for film, including five BAFTA Awards, two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Emmy Award, a Laurence Olivier Award, two SAG Awards, and a Tony Award.

Her critically acclaimed films include Othello (1965), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), California Suite (1978), Clash of the Titans (1981), A Room with a View (1985), and Gosford Park (2001). She has also appeared in a number of widely-popular films, including Hook, Sister Act (1992), and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. Smith currently appears in the hit TV series Downton Abbey.


[edit] Early life

Margaret Natalie Smith was born in Ilford, Essex. 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.[1][2][3][4][5] She has older twin brothers, Alistair and Ian. Smith studied at Oxford High School.

[edit] Career

Smith has had an extensive career both on screen and in live theatre, and is known as one of Britain's pre-eminent actresses. She began her career at the Oxford Playhouse with Frank Shelley and made her first film in 1956. She became a fixture at the Royal National Theatre in the 1960s, most notably for playing Desdemona in Othello opposite Laurence Olivier and winning her first Oscar nomination for her performance in the 1965 film version.

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. Afterwards, 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'd previously worked in the 1999 BBC television adaptation of David Copperfield, playing Betsie Trottwood. She also plays an older Wendy in the Peter Pan movie, Hook and Mrs. Medlock in The Secret Garden. In 2010 she appeared as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the British period drama Downton Abbey, and is signed to reprise her role in the second season, which was filmed in Spring 2011.

She appeared in numerous productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, to acclaim from 1976 through to 1980. These roles included Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Virginia Woolf in Virginia, and countless lead roles with long-time Stratford icon Brian Bedford including the Noël Coward comedy Private Lives.

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. The play, first performed in London, also featured Margaret Tyzack, whom Smith insisted should also appear in the Broadway production despite initial resistance from the American Actor's Equity.[6] In 2007, she appeared in Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque at Theatre Royal Haymarket.

She was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1970, and was raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1990.

[edit] Personal life

Smith has been married twice. She married actor Robert Stephens on 29 June 1967 at Greenwich Register Office. The couple had two sons: actors Chris Larkin (born in 1967) and Toby Stephens (born in 1969),[4] and divorced on 6 May 1974.[4] Smith is a grandmother via both her sons.[7][8]

She married playwright Beverley Cross on 23 August 1975 at the Guildford Register Office, he died on 20 March 1998.

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.[9]

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Television and cinema

Year Title Role Notes
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 Nominated – Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1964 Pumpkin Eater, TheThe Pumpkin Eater Philpot
1965 Othello Desdemona
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
Oh! What a Lovely War Music Hall Star
1972 Travels with My Aunt Aunt Augusta
1973 Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing Lila Fisher
1974 Carol Burnett Show, TheThe Carol Burnett Show Gwendylspire Boughgrough
1975 Carol Burnett Show, TheThe Carol Burnett Show Ms. Collins
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
1981 Quartet Lois Heidler 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
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 Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
1985 Room with a View, AA Room with a View Charlotte Bartlett
1987 Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, TheThe Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Judith Hearne BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Talking Heads Susan Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
1991 Hook Wendy Darling
1992 Sister Act Reverend Mother
Memento Mori Mrs. Mabel Pettigrew Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
1993 Suddenly, Last Summer Violet Venable Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
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 Gale
Last September, TheThe Last September Lady Myra Naylor
Tea with Mussolini Lady Hester Random BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
All the King's Men Queen Alexandra
David Copperfield Betsey Trotwood
2001 Gosford Park Constance, Countess of Trentham
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Professor Minerva McGonagall
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
2003 My House in Umbria Emily Delahunty
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
Capturing Mary Mary Gilbert Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
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. Docherty
2010–present Downton Abbey Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham Nominated – Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Nominated - Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Monte Carlo Television Festival Award for Outstanding Actress
2011 Gnomeo & Juliet Lady Bluebury
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Professor Minerva McGonagall
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, TheThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Muriel Donnelly Post-production
Quartet Jean Pre-production

[edit] Theatre roles

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. Mackenzie, Suzie (20 November 2004). "You have to laugh". The Guardian (UK).,3605,1354891,00.html?gusrc=rss. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  2. Maggie Smith Biography (1934–)
  3. Maggies Smith at Yahoo Movies.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Maggie Smith biography. & TV.
  5. Maggie Smith. Film
  6. Bruce Weber "Margaret Tyzack, Award-Winning Actress, Dies at 79", New York Times, 27 June 2011
  7. Michael Coveney, "I'm Very Scared of Being Back on Stage",, 3 February 2007 [1]
  8. Mark Lawson, "Prodigal Son", The Guardian, 31 May 2007
  9. Actress Maggie Smith recounts cancer battle

[edit] External links