Susan Hampshire

Active - 1947 - 2017  |   Born - May 12, 1938   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Susan Hampshire was an actress from childhood, but stardom eluded her until she played a colorful one-scene bit in the 1958 London stage production Expresso Bongo. Hampshire was not cast in the 1959 film version of this play, but instead made her "official" starring film debut (after a couple of earlier bit parts) in the class-conscious comedy Upstairs and Downstairs (1959). She endeared herself to American audiences with her performance in Disney's Three Lives of Thomasina (1963) then went out of her way to avoid being typecast in kiddie-movie parts by playing the scantily clad lady friend of Albert Finney in Night Must Fall (1964). Two years later, she was seen as the completely un clad leading lady in the French Paris in the Month of August (1966), directed by her future husband Pierre Granier-Deferre. With her portrayal of Agnes Wakefield in the all-star 1969 television adaptation of David Copperfield, Hampshire established herself as one of the business TV miniseries performers in the English-speaking world. Her performances as Fleur Forsythe in the internationally popular The Forsythe Saga (1967), Sarah Churchill in The First Churchills (1970) and Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair (1972) won her accolades from all over the globe, including three American Emmy awards. She also starred as Lady Glencora Palliser in the 22-episode adaptation of Anthony Trollope's The Pallisers (telecast in the U.S. in 1977). Though she breezes through archaic classical dialogue with seeming effortlessness, Susan Hampshire has been a lifelong dyslexic, a fact she elaborates upon in her 1982 book Susan's Story.

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