Tony Winner Glenda Jackson Passes Away at 87 | Playbill

Obituaries Tony Winner Glenda Jackson Passes Away at 87

In addition to her work as an actor, Ms. Jackson was a British Member of Parliament for 23 years.

Glenda Jackson

Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and BAFTA winner Glenda Jackson passed away June 15, following a brief illness. News of her passing was confirmed to the New York Times by her longtime agent. She was 87.

Born to a poor family in Cheshire, England in 1936, Ms. Jackson's parents had higher aspirations for her from the start, naming her after the Hollywood film star Glenda Farrell. After beginning to perform in YMCA productions following World War II, Ms. Jackson received a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts, which brought Ms. Jackson to London and a series of fallow years before she found professional acting work.

After a series of unsuccessful auditions, Ms. Jackson became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, joining as a part of the late director Peter Brook's Theatre of Cruelty Season. As a company member, she originated the role of Charlotte Corday in Marat/Sade, which she continued to star in for Broadway and Paris engagements, as well as the 1967 film.

Glenda Jackson in Marat/Sade

In 1969, she won her first Academy Award for her performance D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love, which was soon followed by her receiving a Primetime Emmy award for her work on the BBC serial Elizabeth R, in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I. She again played Elizabeth in the film Mary, Queen of Scots opposite Vanessa Redgrave, netting an additional Academy Award nomination in 1971, alongside her 1971 BAFTA win for the film Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Ms. Jackson was considered one of the most famous actresses in Britain by the mid 1970s, starring in a series of additional productions for the RSC, bringing in a second Academy Award (for A Touch of Class), and receiving a theatre named in her honor. After a film adaptation of her and Trevor Nunn's adaptation of Hedda Gabler saw her nominated yet again for an Oscar, Ms. Jackson returned to Broadway, appearing in the plays Rose, Strange Interlude, and Macbeth throughout the 1980s. 

In 1990, Ms. Jackson retired from performance to reorient herself toward politics. A member of the Labour Party and the Anti-Nazi League, Ms. Jackson was particularly focused on human rights, feminism, and repairing the damage that had been wrought by Margaret Thatcher and the conservative party. An anti-monarchist republican, Ms. Jackson identified as a socialist.

As a Member of Parliament, Ms. Jackson was a particularly fierce opponent to Prime Minister Tony Blair, particularly surrounding financial barriers he attempted to place on high education, and his handling of the Iraq War. In 2013, following the death of Margaret Thatcher, Ms. Jackson presented a scathing eulogy on the house floor that soon went viral.

In 2015, Ms. Jackson stepped down as a Member of Parliament ahead of her 80th birthday, completing a 23-year career in politics. Never one to fully retire, she instead returned to the stage, playing the title role of King Lear in Shakespeare's epic both in London and on Broadway. In 2018, Ms. Jackson won a Tony for her work on the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, where she received a glowing notice from Marilyn Stasio of Variety, welcoming her back to the Broadway stage. "Watching Glenda Jackson in theatrical flight is like looking straight into the sun. Her expressive face registers her thoughts while guarding her feelings. But it's the voice that really thrills. Deeply pitched and clarion clear, it's the commanding voice of stern authority. Don't mess with this household god or she'll turn you to stone."

Ms. Jackson is survived by her son, Daniel, and her grandson.

Production Photos: King Lear on Broadway

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