Edith Evans

Active - 1915 - 1976  |   Born - Feb 8, 1888 in London, England  |   Died - Oct 14, 1976   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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Formidable English character actress Edith Evans was celebrated for her unique voice and speech pattern. As a young woman, she held down a job while studying acting at night. In 1912 she made her professional stage debut, going on to become famous for her glorious performances of the classics both on the London stage and later on Broadway. Evans appeared in two silent films, A Welsh Singer (1915) and East Is East (1916), then went three decades before her next screen appearance, in The Queen of Spades (1949); in the meantime she devoted herself to the stage. After three films she again went seven years without a screen role, then after 1959 she began appearing in films more frequently. For her work in both Tom Jones (1963) and The Chalk Garden (1964) she received "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar nominations; for The Whisperers (1967) she won the New York Critics Award for "Best Actress," and was nominated for a "Best Actress" Oscar. Evans was an inspiration to generations of younger British stars, many of whom considered her to be their greatest influence in their professional lives. In 1946 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her authorized biography is Dame Edith Evans: Ned's Girl (1978) by writer-director Bryan Forbes.

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Factsheet

  • Before becoming an actress, she worked as a milliner's apprentice.
  • Made her film debut in 1915 but didn't return to film until 1949 with The Queen of Spades and The Last Days of Dolwyn. 
  • Reprised her stage role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in the 1952 film version.
  • Honored as a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1946 for her contributions to the English theater.
  • John Gielgud wrote about her in The London Times after her death: "The name of Edith Evans must surely rank with the greatest of her sisters in the history of our theatre."