Lynn Redgrave

Active - 1963 - 2010  |   Born - Mar 8, 1943 in London, England  |   Died - May 2, 2010   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Children's/Family, Comedy Drama, Romance

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Specializing in comedic roles, Lynn Redgrave made significant contributions to her illustrious family's five-generation-long reputation for producing fine British actors. The daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson and the sister of actors Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, the London-born Redgrave studied acting at the Central School of Music and Drama. She first appeared on-stage in a 1962 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre. She was next invited by Sir Laurence Olivier to become one of the first members in Britain's National Theatre. There she appeared in Hamlet opposite her father and Peter O'Toole for three years as well as in many other prestigious productions. Redgrave made her feature-film debut in Tony Richardson's ribald Tom Jones (1963). She then had a starring role in The Girl With Green Eyes (1964), but did not become an international star until she played the plump and pathetic protagonist in Georgy Girl (1966). Her work earned her an Oscar nomination and a Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics and led to her playing leading roles in a number of films on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1974, Redgrave immigrated to the U.S. She eventually lost a lot of weight and became a fine comic actress, noted for her unabashed naughty sense of humor. For a while, she was a popular guest on the television talk show/game show circuit as well as a popular spokesperson for the Weight Watchers diet organization. Her '70s film appearances ran the gamut from Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask (1972) to playing the title role in The Happy Hooker (1975). Redgrave also appeared in television movies and in the series House Calls (1979-1981), Teachers Only (1982-1983), and Chicken Soup (1989). In the late '90s, Redgrave staged a successful one-woman show, Shakespeare for My Father. In 1996, Redgrave won acclaim for her portrayal of the loving astrologer who married troubled pianist David Helfgott in Scott Hicks' Shine. Redgrave died of breast cancer at age 67 in May 2010.

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  • Member of an esteemed family of actors that spans five generations, Redgrave trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama and made professional stage premiere in a 1962 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Became an international star with her Oscar-nominated performance as a heavyset woman-in-love in the 1966 film Georgy Girl. Her sister Vanessa was also nominated that year for her role in Morgan! (Both lost to Elizabeth Taylor.) Debuted on Broadway in the show Black Comedy in 1967. Sued MCA and Universal Television after being fired from the sitcom House Calls in 1981, saying it was due to breastfeeding her newborn daughter on the set and not their allegation of a salary dispute. She lost the lawsuit and later claimed it resulted in being blacklisted in Hollywood. A battle with bulimia and weight issues in general eventually led to a more positive attitude as the longtime spokesperson for Weight Watchers (1984-1992). The tagline "This is living" was used as the title for her 1991 autobiography. Despite an overwhelming body of work, rarely had the opportunity to act with family members. The few instances include performing next to sister Vanessa onstage in Chekhov's Three Sisters (with niece Jemma Redgrave) and in the TV movie remake Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Costarred with husband John Clark in the 1989 Broadway production of Love Letters. They later divorced in 2000. Moved to the US in the early 1970s and has been a citizen since 1998. Included on Queen Elizabeth's New Year Honors List for 2002 and named Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2002, Redgrave and daughter Annabel documented her treatment and recovery in the book Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery from Breast Cancer.