Glenda Jackson - Career in Acting

Career in Acting

Having studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Jackson made her professional stage debut in Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables in 1957, and her film debut in This Sporting Life in 1963. Subsequently a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for four years, she worked for director Peter Brook in several productions, including of Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade as Charlotte Corday. Jackson also appeared in the film version.

Fame came with Jackson's starring role in the controversial Women in Love (1969) for which she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress, and another controversial role as Tchaikovsky's nymphomaniac wife in Ken Russell's The Music Lovers added to her image of being prepared to do almost anything for her art. She confirmed this by having her head shaved in order to play Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC's 1971 blockbuster serial, Elizabeth R. The series was later shown on PBS in the US and Jackson received two Emmy Awards for her work. She also portrayed Queen Elizabeth in the film Mary, Queen of Scots. She appeared on the Morecambe and Wise Show in 1971, playing Cleopatra in a comedy sketch. This led to many other appearances on the show, including the Christmas Shows of 1971 and 1972. In 1971 British exhibitors voted her the 6th most popular star at the British box office.

Filmmaker Melvin Frank saw her comedic potential and offered her the lead female role in his next project. She earned a second Academy Award for Best Actress for A Touch of Class (1973). Morecambe and Wise apparently sent her a telegram saying: 'Stick with us kid, and we'll get you a third!'. By then, she was recognised as one of Britain's leading actresses. In 1978, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was one of the most fondly remembered later guest stars on The Muppet Show because she told the producers that she would perform any material they liked; this turned out to be a role where she has a delusion that she is a pirate captain who hijacks the Muppet Theatre as her ship. In 1989, she appeared in Ken Russell's The Rainbow, playing Anna Brangwen, mother of Gudrun, the part which had won her her first Academy Award.

The Glenda Jackson Theatre, on the Borough Road campus of Wirral Metropolitan College, Birkenhead, was named after her in 1983. It closed in 2003, and was demolished by Wirral Council, to make way for a new housing estate, in 2004.

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