Lynn Redgrave Dead at Age 67

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Lynn Redgrave Dead at Age 67

Post by DavidRoss » Mon May 03, 2010 1:16 pm

Lynn Redgrave has died after a seven-year bout with breast cancer.

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Re: Lynn Redgrave Dead at Age 67

Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 04, 2010 6:05 am

# The New York Times

May 3, 2010
Lynn Redgrave, Actress and Playwright, Dies at 67

Lynn Redgrave, who as an actress upheld the tradition of her theatrically royal family on stage and on screen and as a playwright wrote about her family with probing affection and equally probing anguish, died on Sunday at her home in Kent, Conn. She was 67.

The cause was cancer, said Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the Redgrave family. Ms. Redgrave had a mastectomy and first underwent chemotherapy in 2003.

The youngest child of the celebrated British actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, Ms. Redgrave grew up in the shadow of her sister, Vanessa, and her brother, Corin, and never acquired Vanessa’s aura of stardom. But as both a deft comedian and a commanding dramatic actress she carved out a varied career, playing parts in Shakespeare and Shaw and on “Fantasy Island.”

In the last two decades, she started on a new professional path as a writer. At her death she was at work on a solo show, her fourth play to draw on her family history. Titled “Rachel and Juliet,” it was about her relationship with her mother, who had a lifelong fascination with Shakespeare’s Juliet. She performed it in Washington last fall and in Tucson, Ariz., in January.

Lynn Redgrave’s death is yet another blow to this famous family. Corin Redgrave died last month. Vanessa’s daughter Natasha Richardson, Lynn’s niece, died in March 2009, an event that drew the kind of public attention the family has known all too well.

Ms. Redgrave often chafed at the outspoken political views of her sister — who was a supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization — and in 1991, when they were performing together in London in Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” they had a public spat after Vanessa referred to Americans as “imperialist pigs.” (They later reconciled.)

Ms. Redgrave was also visited by unwanted scandal in 1998 after her son, Benjamin, married a single mother with a son and Ms. Redgrave’s husband, John Clark, revealed that he was the child’s father.

Well beyond the tabloid headlines, however, Ms. Redgrave was a frequently acclaimed performer, admired by critics and nominated three times for Tony Awards, twice for Oscars (more than 30 years apart) and twice for Emmys. But she came across nonetheless as the prototypical working actor, plying her trade more often in character roles than in leading ones and unafraid to disappear into a part that undermined her looks.

Indeed, for the film that made her a star when she was just 23, “Georgy Girl” (1966), she said she put on 14 pounds to play the title role: a previous generation’s Bridget Jones, a pudgy, gawky young woman whose painfully uncertain self-image leads her to sublimate her own desires to those of her acquaintances. She was nominated for an Academy Award.

“If you saw her waiting for a bus, you’d never believe it,” Rex Reed wrote about her in The New York Times just before the film opened in New York. “Treetop tall (5’10”) and all kneecaps, with hair that never seems to have met a stylist, a little round mouth invented for devouring hot fudge sundaes and a chubby figure that changes weight according to her mood, she certainly doesn’t look like a star.”

Lynn Rachel Redgrave was born in London on March 8, 1943. In the first play she authored, “Shakespeare for My Father,” which appeared on Broadway in 1993, she described a lonely childhood in which her father was distant and her siblings excluded her; in one episode she recalled a family skit in which her brother and sister played world leaders and she was cast as a dog.

She attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and made her professional debut in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Royal Court Theater in 1962. She joined the National Theater (now the Royal National Theater) during its inaugural season in 1963; there she was directed by Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli and Noël Coward, among others, and worked with actors like Peter O’Toole, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and her father. Before her starring role in “Georgy Girl,” she appeared in “Tom Jones” (along with her mother) and “Girl With Green Eyes,” with Peter Finch and Rita Tushingham.

Ms. Redgrave made her Broadway debut in 1967 in Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy,” a vaudevillian comedy set in an artist’s loft during a power blackout. Among her dozen other Broadway appearances were the title roles of two Shavian dramas, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” in 1976 and “Saint Joan” in 1977, and as the mother of a woman whose husband has been unfaithful in W. Somerset Maugham’s play “The Constant Wife.”

Unusually for a performer of her pedigree, Ms. Redgrave appeared in a large number of television series — including “Kojak,” “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote” — and her choices of film roles (like Xaviera Hollander, the title character of “The Happy Hooker”) sometimes appeared ill advised. Ms. Redgrave shrugged at that idea, saying she was a working actress who needed to make a living. In 1981, she filed a lawsuit against Universal Television for not allowing her to breast-feed in her dressing room during the filming of a sitcom, “House Calls.” The suit lingered for 13 years, depleting her finances.

By the mid-1990s, however, her film career had rebounded. She appeared in “Shine” (1996), with Geoffrey Rush, as the wife of the mentally ill pianist David Helfgott, and in “Gods and Monsters” (1998), for which she earned her second Oscar nomination as the housekeeper for the suicidal film director James Whale.

Ms. Redgrave and her husband divorced in 2000. In addition to her sister, she is survived by her son, Benjamin Clark; two daughters, Annabel and Pema Clark; and five grandchildren.

In addition to “Shakespeare for My Father,” in which Ms. Redgrave wove speeches from Shakespeare into her personal recollections and which she acknowledged was a therapeutic exercise that helped her resolve her issues with her father, her other plays were “The Mandrake Root,” a somewhat fictionalized reflection on her mother’s life, and “Nightingale,” a tale of a Victorian woman imagined from the few strands of knowledge Ms. Redgrave had of her maternal grandmother. Those too were part art, part therapy.

“I’m doing it for myself,” Ms. Redgrave said last fall about her playwriting, “but I’m thinking about other people.”

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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