Rutherford was a bulky, eccentric comedic supporting player of British films and plays. Following a number of years spent as a speech and piano teacher, she trained at the Old Vic and debuted onstage in 1925, when she was in her 30s; it was 1933 before she appeared in London. Rutherford began appearing in films in 1936 and went on to have a sporadically busy screen career through the late '60s, meanwhile continuing her illustrious stage career. She is best remembered as Miss Marple, the little old lady detective of Agatha Christie novels, in four films made in the '60s. For her work in The V.I.P.s (1963) she won a "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar. In 1967 Rutherford became a Dame of the British Empire. She was married to actor Stringer Davis, with whom she appeared in several films; one of their children was writer Gordon Langley Hall, who underwent a sex-change operation in 1968 and later wrote a biography of Rutherford under the name "Dawn Langley Hall." She wrote an autobiography, Margaret Rutherford (1972).