Dench, Judi

▪ 1999

      In January 1998 British actress Judi Dench lit up London's West End in David Hare's play Amy's View, in which she portrayed an actress who over a period of overwhelming loss never loses her passion for the theatre. The part, which she first played at the National Theatre in 1997, was tailor-made for the indomitable Dame Judi. During most of her 40-year career, Dench's fame resided mostly in her native Great Britain, where she was best known for her numerous and quite varied stage roles, a few television series, and supporting parts in motion pictures. American audiences recognized her mainly as James Bond's boss, M, in the two most recent 007 films, GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and as one of the stars of the British romantic comedy series "As Time Goes By" on public television. Dench's performance as the recently widowed Queen Victoria in the 1997 film Mrs. Brown moved her into the ranks of international stars, however, and in early 1998 earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress and the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama.

      Judith Olivia Dench was born on Dec. 9, 1934, in York, Eng., and studied at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art in London. She made her stage debut in 1957 as Ophelia in Hamlet, and Shakespearean works became her specialty, both on the stage and on television. Her performance as Lady Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Macbeth earned her the best actress award from the Society of West End Theatres in 1977—the first of her many SWET awards—and her lead role in Antony and Cleopatra brought her Evening Standard, Plays and Players, and Drama Magazine awards in 1987.

      Dench, who was also at home in musical roles, starred as Sally Bowles in the London premiere of Cabaret in 1968. In 1996, for her performance as Desirée in a revival of A Little Night Music, she won the Laurence Olivier Award for best actress in a musical, one of two Olivier awards she captured that year (the other, for best actress in a play, honoured her work in Absolute Hell).

      Among Dench's other notable credits were the 1981-84 TV series "A Fine Romance," in which she starred with her husband since 1971, Michael Williams, and such films as 84 Charing Cross Road (1986), A Room with a View (1986), and A Handful of Dust (1988). In late 1998 she appeared in the comedy Shakespeare in Love—this time portraying Queen Elizabeth I—and she was planning to follow that with The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. The stage remained Dench's first love, however, and after starring in a revival of Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena, she was scheduled to take Amy's View to Broadway in 1999. Dench was created O.B.E. in 1970 and advanced to D.B.E. in 1988.


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Universalium. 2010.

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