Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson

Born: May 9, 1936
Age: 87
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Glenda May Jackson CBE (born 9 May 1936) is a British actress and former Labour Party politician. She is among the few performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting.

As a professional actress from the late 1950s, she spent four years as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1964, being particularly associated with the work of director Peter Brook. During her film career, she won two Academy Awards for Best Actress: for Women in Love (1970) and A Touch of Class (1973). Other award-winning performances include Alex in the film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and the BBC television serial Elizabeth R (also 1971); for the latter, she received two Primetime Emmy Awards. Jackson won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in a revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.

She first became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1992, as Member for Hampstead and Highgate. Early in the government of Tony Blair, she served as a Junior Transport minister from 1997 to 1999, later becoming critical of Blair. After constituency boundary changes, from 2010 until her retirement from politics in 2015, she represented Hampstead and Kilburn.

At the 2010 general election, her majority of 42 votes was one of the closest results of the entire election.[2] She announced in 2011 that she would stand down as an MP at the 2015 general election.

Jackson was born in Birkenhead on the Wirral, where her father was a builder, and her mother worked in shops and as a cleaner.[3] Jackson was educated at the West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls, and performed at the Townswomen's Guild drama group during her teens.[3] She worked for two years in a branch of the Boots the Chemist chain before taking up a scholarship in 1954 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[4]

Jackson made her professional stage debut in Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables in 1957 while at RADA[5] and appeared in repertory for the next six years.[6] Her film debut was a bit part in This Sporting Life (1963). A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for four years from 1964, she originally joined for director Peter Brook's 'Theatre of Cruelty' season which included Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade (1965) in which she played an inmate of an asylum portraying Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Marat.[7] The production ran on Broadway in 1965 and in Paris[6] (Jackson appeared in the 1967 film version) and Jackson also appeared as Ophelia in Peter Hall's production of Hamlet in the same year.[8]

Critic Penelope Gilliatt thought Jackson was the only Ophelia she had seen who was ready to play the Prince himself.[9] The RSC's staging at the Aldwych Theatre of US (1966), a protest play against the Vietnam War, also featured Jackson, and she appeared in its film version, Tell Me Lies.[10] Later that year, she starred in the psychological drama Negatives (1968), which was not a huge financial success, but won her more good reviews.


Critical and commercial success (1969-1980)

Jackson's starring role in Ken Russell's film of Women in Love (1969) led to her winning her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Brian McFarlane, the main author of The Encyclopedia of British Film, has written: "Her blazing intelligence, sexual challenge and abrasiveness were at the service of a superbly written role in a film with a passion rare in the annals of British cinema."[11]

In the process of gaining funding for The Music Lovers (1970) from United Artists, Russell explained it as "the story of a homosexual who marries a nymphomaniac,"[12] the couple being the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) and Antonina Miliukova played by Jackson. This film received mixed reviews in the U.S.: the anonymous reviewer in Variety wrote of the two principals, "Their performances are more dramatically bombastic than sympathetic, or sometimes even believable."[13] Jackson was initially interested in the role of Sister Jeanne in The Devils (1971), Russell's next film, but turned it down after script rewrites and deciding that she did not wish to play a third neurotic character in a row.[14]

In order to play Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC's serial Elizabeth R (1971), Jackson had her head shaved. After the series was shown on PBS in the US, Jackson received two Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance. She also portrayed Queen Elizabeth in the film Mary, Queen of Scots, and gained an Academy Award nomination and a BAFTA Award for her role in John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday (both 1971).[15] In that year British exhibitors voted her the 6th most popular star at the British box office.[16]

In 1971 she made the first of several appearances with Morecambe and Wise, appearing in a comedy sketch as Cleopatra for the BBC Morecambe and Wise Show in which she delivered the line "All men are fools and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got." Later appearances included a song and dance routine (in which she was pushed offstage by Eric), a period drama about Queen Victoria, and another musical routine (in their Thames Television series) in which she is elevated ten feet in the air by a misbehaving swivel chair. Jackson and Wise also appeared in an information film for the Blood Transfusion Service.

Filmmaker Melvin Frank saw her comedic potential on the Morecambe and Wise Show and offered her the lead female role in his next project. She gained a second Academy Award for Best Actress for Frank's A Touch of Class (1973). She continued to work in the theatre, and returned to the RSC to play the lead role in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. A later film version directed by Trevor Nunn was released as Hedda (1975), for which Jackson was nominated for an Oscar. In The New York Times, Vincent Canby praised Jackson's performance: "This version of Hedda Gabler is all Miss Jackson's Hedda and, I must say, great fun to watch ... Miss Jackson's technical virtuosity is particularly suited to a character like Hedda. Her command of her voice and her body, as well as the Jackson mannerisms, have the effect of separating the actress from the character in a very curious way."[17] In 1978, she scored box office success in the United States in the romantic comedy House Calls, which co-starred Walter Matthau. Jackson and Matthau teamed again in the comedy Hopscotch (1980), which was a mild success, but not as popular as expected.[by whom?]

For her 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show, she told the producers that she would perform any material they liked; this turned out to be a role where she has a delusion that she is a pirate captain who hijacks the Muppet Theatre as her ship.

Later acting career (1980-1992)

In 1985, she appeared on Broadway as Nina Leeds in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude at the Nederlander Theatre in a production which had originated in London the previous year and ran for eight weeks.[3] John Beaufort for The Christian Science Monitor wrote: "Bravura is the inevitable word for Miss Jackson's display of feminine wiles and brilliant technique."[18] Frank Rich in The New York Times thought Jackson, "with her helmet of hair and gashed features," when Leeds is a young woman, "looks like a cubist portrait of Louise Brooks," and later when the character has aged several decades, is "mesmerizing as a Zelda Fitzgeraldesque neurotic, a rotting and spiteful middle-aged matron and, finally, a spent, sphinx-like widow happily embracing extinction."[19] Herbert Wise directed a British television version of O'Neill's drama which was first broadcast in the US as part of PBS's American Playhouse in January 1988.[20]

In 1985, Jackson appeared in the title role of Racine's Phèdre at The Old Vic. The Daily Telegraph's John Barber wrote of her performance, "Wonderfully impressive . . . The actress finds a voice as jagged and hoarse as her torment." Benedict Nightingale in the New Statesman was intrigued that Jackson didn't go in for nobility, but played Racine's feverish queen as if to say that "being skewered in the guts by Cupid is an ugly, bitter, humiliating business."[21]

In 1989, Jackson appeared in Ken Russell's The Rainbow, playing Anna Brangwen, mother of Gudrun, the part which had won her her first Academy Award twenty years earlier. Also in that year she played Martha in a Los Angeles production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Doolittle Theatre (now the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre). Directed by the playwright himself, this staging featured John Lithgow as George. Dan Sullivan in the Los Angeles Times wrote that Jackson and Lithgow performed "with the assurance of dedicated character assassins, not your hire-and-salary types" with the actors being able to display their character's capacity for antipathy.[22] Albee was disappointed with this production, pointing to Jackson who he thought "had retreated back to the thing she can do very well, that ice cold performance. I don't know whether she got scared, but in rehearsal she was being Martha, and the closer we got to opening the less Martha she was!"[23]

She performed the lead role in Howard Barker's Scenes from an Execution as Galactia, a sixteenth century female Venetian artist, at the Almeida Theatre in 1990.[24] It was an adaptation of Barker's 1984 radio play in which Jackson had played the same role.[25]

Political career (1992-2015)

Jackson retired from acting in order to stand for election to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election, subsequently becoming the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate. She has stated that she felt Britain was being "destroyed" by the policies of Thatcher and the Conservative government, so that she was willing to do "anything that was legal" to oppose her.[26]

Following a period as shadow minister for transport, following the 1997 general election, she was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state (a junior minister) in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair,[27] with responsibility for London Transport, a post from which she resigned in 1999 before an unsuccessful attempt to be nominated as the Labour Party candidate for the election of the first Mayor of London in 2000. In the 2005 general election, she received 14,615 votes, representing 38.29% of the votes cast in the constituency.

As a high-profile backbencher, she became a regular critic of Blair over his plans to introduce higher education tuition fees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She also called for him to resign following the Judicial Enquiry by Lord Hutton in 2003 surrounding the reasons for going to war in Iraq and the death of government adviser Dr. David Kelly. Jackson was generally considered to be a traditional left-winger, often disagreeing with the dominant Blairite governing Third Way faction in the Labour Party. Jackson is also a republican.[28]

By October 2005, her problems with Blair's leadership swelled to a point where she threatened to challenge the Prime Minister as a stalking horse candidate in a leadership contest if he did not stand down within a reasonable amount of time. On 31 October 2006, Jackson was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.[29]

Her constituency boundaries changed for the 2010 general election. The Gospel Oak and Highgate wards became part of Holborn & St Pancras, and the new Hampstead & Kilburn constituency switched into Brent to include Brondesbury, Kilburn and Queens Park wards (from the old Brent East and Brent South seats). On 6 May 2010, Jackson was elected as the MP for the new Hampstead and Kilburn constituency with a margin of 42 votes over Conservative Chris Philp, with the Liberal Democrat candidate Edward Fordham less than a thousand votes behind them. She had the second closest result and second smallest majority of any MP in the 2010 election.

In June 2011, Jackson announced that, presuming the Parliament elected in 2010 lasted until 2015, she would not seek re-election. She explained "I will be almost 80 and by then it will be time for someone else to have a turn".[30] The eventual election was held two days before her 79th birthday.

In April 2013, Jackson gave a speech in parliament following the death of Margaret Thatcher.[31] She accused Thatcher of treating "vices as virtues" and stated that because of Thatcherism England was susceptible to unprecedented unemployment rates and homelessness.[32]

Another speech of Jackson's went viral in June 2014 when she gave a scathing assessment of Iain Duncan Smith's tenure as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, telling him that he was responsible for the "destruction of the welfare state and the total and utter incompetence of his department."[33][34]

Return to acting (2015-)

In 2015 Jackson returned to acting following a 23-year absence, having retired from politics. She appeared in the play Blood Sex and Money by Émile Zola, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, taking the role of Dide, the ancient matriarch of the Rougon-Macquart family. Never one to be scared,[35] she returned to the stage at the end of 2016, playing the title role in Shakespeare's King Lear at the Old Vic Theatre in London, in a production running from 25 October to 3 December. Jackson was nominated for Best Actress at the Olivier Awards for her role, but ultimately lost out to Billie Piper. She did, however, win the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress at the 2017 Evening Standard Theatre Awards for her performance in King Lear.[36] Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph wrote, "Glenda Jackson is tremendous as King Lear. No ifs, no buts. In returning to the stage at the age of 80, 25 years after her last performance (as the Clytemnestra-like Christine in Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra at the Glasgow Citizens), she has pulled off one of those 11th-hour feats of human endeavour that will surely be talked about for years to come by those who see it."[37]

In 2018, Jackson returned to Broadway in a revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Marilyn Stasio of Variety wrote, "Watching Glenda Jackson in theatrical flight is like looking straight into the sun. Her expressive face registers her thoughts while guarding her feelings. But it's the voice that really thrills. Deeply pitched and clarion clear, it's the commanding voice of stern authority. Don't mess with this household god or she'll turn you to stone."[38]

She is set to return to the role of King Lear as the production is set for a Broadway opening in April 2019.[39]

Personal life and honours

Jackson has a son, Dan Hodges, born in 1969 from her marriage to Roy Hodges; he has worked as a Labour Party advisor and commentator,[40] and a well-known political blogger who describes himself as a "Blairite cuckoo."[41] She was five months pregnant when filming on Women in Love was completed.[42] Her marriage to Hodges lasted from 1958 until their divorce in 1976.[43]

In 1978, she was awarded a CBE.



Year Title Role Notes
1963 This Sporting Life Singer at Party Uncredited
1967 Marat/Sade Charlotte Corday
1968 Negatives Vivien
1969 Women in Love Gudrun Brangwen
1971 The Music Lovers Antonina Miliukova
1971 Sunday Bloody Sunday Alex Greville
1971 The Boy Friend Rita Monroe
1971 Mary, Queen of Scots Queen Elizabeth I
1972 The Triple Echo Alice
1973 Bequest to the Nation Lady Hamilton AKA The Nelson Affair
1973 A Touch of Class Vickie Allessio
1973 The Devil Is a Woman Sister Geraldine
1975 The Maids Solange
1975 The Romantic Englishwoman Elizabeth Fielding
1975 Hedda Hedda Gabler
1976 The Incredible Sarah Sarah Bernhardt
1977 Nasty Habits Sister Alexandra
1978 House Calls Ann Atkinson
1978 Stevie Stevie Smith
1978 The Class of Miss MacMichael Conor MacMichael
1979 Lost and Found Patricia Brittenham
1980 Health Isabella Garnell
1980 Hopscotch Isobel von Schonenberg
1982 The Return of the Soldier Margaret Grey
1982 Giro City Sophie
1985 Turtle Diary Neaera Duncan
1987 Beyond Therapy Charlotte
1988 Business as Usual Babs Flynn
1988 Salome's Last Dance Herodias / Lady Alice
1989 The Rainbow Anna Brangwen
1989 Doombeach Miss
1990 King of the Wind Queen Caroline


Year Title Role Notes
1957-61 ITV Play of the Week Iris Jones / Jurywoman 2 episodes
1963 Z-Cars Hospital Nurse / WPC Fernley 2 episodes
1965-68 The Wednesday Play Cathy / Julie 2 episodes
1967 Half Hour Story Claire Foley Episode: "Which of These Two Ladies Is He Married To?"
1969 ITV Sunday Night Theatre Marina Palek Episode: "Salve Regina"
1970 Play of the Month Margaret Schlegel Episode: "Howards End"
1971 Elizabeth R Queen Elizabeth I TV miniseries; 6 episodes
1971-74 The Morecambe & Wise Show Herself 4 episodes
1979 Christmas With Eric & Ernie Herself
1980 The Muppet Show Herself Episode: "Glenda Jackson"
1980 The Morecambe & Wise Show Woman Kissed by Eric Episode: "1980 Christmas Show"
1981 The Patricia Neal Story Patricia Neal TV film
1984 Sakharov Yelena Bonner (Sakharova) TV film
1988 American Playhouse Nina Leeds Episode: "Strange Interlude"
1990 Carol & Company Dr. Doris Kruber Episode: "Kruber Alert"
1990 T.Bag's Christmas Ding Dong Vanity Bag TV film
1991 A Murder of Quality Ailsa Brimley TV film
1991 The House of Bernarda Alba Bernarda Alba TV film
1992 The Secret Life of Arnold Bax Harriet Cohen TV film


Year Title Role Venue
1964 Marat/Sade Charlotte Corday Aldwych Theatre
1965 Martin Beck Theatre
1965 Hamlet Ophelia Aldwych Theatre
1966 US Protestor Aldwych Theatre
1975 Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler Aldwych Theatre
1976 The White Devil Vittoria The Old Vic
1977 Stevie Stevie Smith Vaudeville Theatre
1978 Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra Aldwych Theatre
1980 Rose Rose Duke of York's Theatre
1981 Cort Theatre
1982 Summit Conference Eva Braun Lyric Theatre
1983 Big and Little Lotte Vaudeville Theatre
1984 Strange Interlude Nina Leeds Duke of York's Theatre
1985 Nederlander Theatre
1985 Phèdre Phèdre The Old Vic
1986 The House of Bernarda Alba Bernarda Alba Lyric Theatre
1988 Macbeth Lady Macbeth Mark Hellinger Theatre
1989 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha Doolittle Theatre
1990 Scenes from an Execution Galactia Almeida Theatre
1990 Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage Citizens Theatre
1991 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon Citizens Theatre
2016 King Lear King Lear The Old Vic
2018 Three Tall Women A John Golden Theatre
2019 King Lear King Lear John Golden Theatre

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Production Result
1965 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Marat/Sade Nominated
1970 British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Women in Love Nominated
1971 Academy Award Best Actress Won
National Board of Review Best Actress Won
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Laurel Awards Laurel Award for Best Female Dramatic Performance Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Actress Play of the Month (Howards End) Nominated
1972 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Elizabeth R Won
Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Actress Nominated
Academy Award Best Actress Sunday Bloody Sunday Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Won
David di Donatello Best Actress Mary, Queen of Scots Won
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actress Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama Nominated
1974 Academy Award Best Actress A Touch of Class Won
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actress Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival San Sebastián Prize for Best Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress 2nd place
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
1976 Academy Award Best Actress Hedda Nominated
David di Donatello Best Foreign Actress Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama Nominated
1977 The Incredible Sarah Nominated
Laurence Olivier Award Actress of the Year in a New Play Stevie Nominated
1978 Montreal World Film Festival Best Actress Stevie Won
1979 Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Laurence Olivier Award Actress of the Year in a Revival Antony and Cleopatra Nominated
1980 Actress of the Year in a New Play Rose Nominated
1981 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
National Board of Review Best Actress Stevie Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Won
1982 Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film The Patricia Neal Story Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special Nominated
1984 CableACE Awards Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Sakharov Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Laurence Olivier Award Actress of the Year in a Revival Strange Interlude Nominated
1985 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
1988 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Macbeth Nominated
Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
1992 CableACE Awards Actress in a Dramatic Series The Secret Life of Arnold Bax Won
2006 Ibsen Centennial Commemoration Award Won
2017 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress King Lear Won
Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Nominated
2018 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Three Tall Women Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Won

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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