The son of British actor Roy Redgrave, Michael Redgrave attended Clifton College and Cambridge University. While teaching high school, Redgrave became involved with amateur theatricals. A professional by 1934, Redgrave made his London debut in Love's Labours Lost in 1936, and that same year appeared in his first film, Hitchcock's The Secret Agent (1936). It was thanks to his leading role in another Hitchcock effort, The Lady Vanishes (1938), that Redgrave achieved stardom. He was excellent in several starring vehicles of the 1940s, and at his very best in his 20-minute turn as a paranoid ventriloquist in Dead of Night (1946). An attempt to become a Hollywood star via Mourning Becomes Electra (1947) was scuttled due to the film's poor box office take, though Redgrave did earn an Oscar nomination for his performance. After starring in The Dam Busters, Britain's most popular 1955 movie release, Redgrave settled into film character roles, continuing all the while to headline on stage. He also wrote and directed several theatrical productions throughout his career, and was the author of four books: the instructional The Actor's Ways and Means, the novel The Mountebank's Tale, and two autobiographies. In 1959, Redgrave was knighted for his achievements in his chosen field. Long married to actress Rachel Kempson, Michael Redgrave was the father of actors Vanessa, Corin and Lynn Redgrave; and the grandfather of actresses Jemma Redgrave, Natasha and Joely Richardson.
by Hal Erickson biography