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Vanessa Redgrave

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Vanessa Redgrave

Born : 30 January 1937
City : Greenwich, United Kingdom
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Vanessa Redgrave Biography

Vanessa Redgrave, CBE (born 30 January 1937) is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.

Redgrave rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning both the Tony and Olivier Awards. On screen, she has starred in more than 80 films; including Blowup (1966), Isadora (1968), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Devils (1971), Julia (1977), The Bostonians (1984), Howards End (1992), Mission: Impossible (1996) and Atonement (2007). Redgrave was proclaimed by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams as "the greatest living actress of our times," and she remains the only British actress ever to win the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Olivier, Cannes, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild awards. In 2003, Redgrave was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.She was also the recipient of the 2010 BAFTA Fellowship "in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film."

A member of the Redgrave family of actors, she is the daughter of Sir Michael Redgrave and Lady Redgrave (the actress Rachel Kempson), the sister of Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, the mother of actresses Joely Richardson and Natasha Richardson, and the aunt of British actress Jemma Redgrave.

Personal life and family

Redgrave was born in Greenwich, London, the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Laurence Olivier announced her birth to the audience at a performance of Hamlet at the Old Vic, when he said that Laertes (played by Sir Michael) had a daughter. She was educated at the Alice Ottley School, Worcester & Queen's Gate School, London before "coming out" as a debutante. Her late siblings, Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, were also acclaimed actors.

Career
Stage

Vanessa Redgrave entered the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1954. She first appeared in the West End, playing opposite her brother, in 1958.

In 1959, she appeared at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre under the direction of Peter Hall as Helena in A Midsummer's Night Dream opposite Charles Laughton as Bottom and Coriolanus opposite Laurence Olivier (in the title role), Albert Finney and Edith Evans.

In 1960, Redgrave had her first starring role in Robert Bolt's The Tiger and the Horse, in which she co-starred with her father. In 1961, she played Rosalind in As You Like It for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1962, she played Imogen in William Gaskill's production of Cymbeline for the RSC. In 1966, Redgrave created the role of Jean Brodie in the Donald Albery production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, adapted for the stage by Jay Presson Allen from the novel by Muriel Spark. She won four Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress in four decades. She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a Revival in 1984 for The Aspern Papers.

Later film career

Later film roles of note include those of suffragist Olive Chancellor in The Bostonians (1984, a fourth Best Actress Academy Award nomination), transsexual tennis player Rene Richards in Second Serve (1986); Blanche Hudson in the 1991 television remake of 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Mrs. Wilcox in Howards End (1992, her sixth Academy Award nomination, this time in a supporting role); crime boss Max in Mission: Impossible (1996, when discussing the role of Max, DePalma and Cruise thought it would be fun to cast an actor like Redgrave; they then decided to go with the real thing); Oscar Wilde’s mother in Wilde (1997); Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway (1997); and Dr. Sonia Wick in Girl, Interrupted (1999). Many of these roles and others garnered her widespread accolades.

Political activism

In 1961, Vanessa Redgrave was an active member of the Committee of 100 and is working group. Redgrave and her brother Corin joined the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1970s. Vanessa ran for parliament several times as a party member but never received more than a few hundred votes.

In 1980, Redgrave made her American TV debut as concentration camp survivor Fania Fnelon in the Arthur Miller-scripted TV movie Playing for Time, a part for which she won an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress in 1981. The decision to cast Redgrave as Fnelon was, however, a source of controversy. In light of Redgrave's support for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),even Fnelon objected to her casting. Redgrave was perplexed by such hostility, stating in her 1991 autobiography her long-held belief that "the struggle against anti-Semitism and for the self-determination of the Palestinians form a single whole.

In 1984, Redgrave sued the Boston Symphony Orchestra, claiming that the orchestra had fired her from a performance because of her support of the PLO.Lillian Hellman testified in court on Redgrave's behalf. Redgrave won on a count of breach of contract, but did not win on the claim that the Boston orchestra had violated her civil rights by firing her.

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