Dancer/model Jean Marsh appeared in her first film, Tales of Hoffman, at the age of 17. For those out there who associate Marsh with prim, severe roles, it will probably come as a mild surprise to discover that she made her first American TV appearance as a sexy, sloe-eyed native girl in a Hallmark Hall of Fame production of The Moon and Sixpence. Laboring in comparative obscurity throughout the 1960s (she was uncredited for her appearance as Marc Antony's wife Octavia in 1963's Cleopatra), Marsh began attracting attention in the 1970s in roles calling for tight-lipped outrage (Hitchcock's 1972 Frenzy) or glazed-eyed lunacy (Mrs. Rochester in the 1971 TV movie version of Jane Eyre). After nearly 20 years in the business, Marsh was voted "Most Outstanding New Actress of 1972" by a British film organization. She achieved international stardom (and won an Emmy) as Rose the maid in Upstairs Downstairs, a multipart British television series co-created by Marsh and actress Eileen Atkins. Subsequent TV-series work included the part of Roz Keith on the American sitcom 9 to 5 and the 1990s British TVer The House of Eliott, which like Upstairs Downstairs sprang largely from Marsh's personal creative input. Jean Marsh was at one time married to Dr. Who star Jon Pertwee.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Her interest in show business was spurred by mime and dancing classes that she took as a child.
- Worked as a model and cabaret singer.
- Debuted on Broadway in 1959 as Hero in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.
- Created Upstairs, Downstairs with fellow actor Eileen Atkins.
- Partly based Rose, the character she plays in Upstairs, Downstairs, on her mother, who was a housemaid.
- Is interested in all things French.
- Prefers working on stage rather than on film.
- Earned acclaim in 2011 for her performance in a continuation of Upstairs, Downstairs, which first aired in Great Britain before airing in the U.S. on PBS.