Michael Redgrave

Actor, Author, Director
A British legend of stage and screen, Michael Redgrave made his name with a seemingly endless string of theatrical triumphs that included an amazing mastery of the great Shakespearean roles. A global ambassador for the ... Read more »
Born: 03/19/1908 in Bristol, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (44)

The Lady Vanishes 1999 (Movie)

(Actor)

Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Hamlet 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Nicholas and Alexandra 1971 (Movie)

Sazonov (Actor)

David Copperfield 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Go-Between 1970 (Movie)

Leo Colston (Actor)

Battle of Britain 1969 (Movie)

Air Vice Marshal Evill (Actor)

Goodbye Gemini 1969 (Movie)

James Harrington-Smith (Actor)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips 1969 (Movie)

Headmaster (Actor)

Oh! What A Lovely War 1969 (Movie)

General Sir Henry Wilson (Actor)

Assignment K 1968 (Movie)

Harris (Actor)

ABC Stage '67 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

The Great War 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Young Cassidy 1965 (Movie)

William Butler Yeats (Actor)

The Heroes of Telemark 1964 (Movie)

Uncle (Actor)

The Hill 1964 (Movie)

Medical Officer (Actor)

No, My Darling Daughter 1961 (Movie)

Sir Matthew Carr (Actor)

The Innocents 1961 (Movie)

Uncle (Actor)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner 1961 (Movie)

The Governor (Actor)

Shake Hands With the Devil 1959 (Movie)

General (Actor)

Behind the Mask 1958 (Movie)

Sir Arthur Benson Gray (Actor)

Law and Disorder 1958 (Movie)

Percy Brand (Actor)

The Wreck of the Mary Deare 1958 (Movie)

Mr Nyland (Actor)

Ruggles of Red Gap 1956 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

The Quiet American 1957 (Movie)

Fowler (Actor)

1984 1956 (Movie)

O'Connor (Actor)

The Happy Road 1956 (Movie)

General Medworth (Actor)

Time Without Pity 1956 (Movie)

David Graham (Actor)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

Burgomil Trebitsch (Actor)

Oh... Rosalinda! 1955 (Movie)

Colonel Eisenstein (Actor)

The Dam Busters 1955 (Movie)

Dr B N Wallis (Actor)

The Sea Shall Not Have Them 1955 (Movie)

Air Commodore Waltby (Actor)

The Night My Number Came Up 1954 (Movie)

Air Marshal Hardie (Actor)

The Green Scarf 1953 (Movie)

Deliot (Actor)

Mourning Becomes Electra 1947 (Movie)

(Actor)

Fame Is the Spur 1946 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Stars Look Down 1938 (Movie)

David Fenwick (Actor)

Climbing High (Movie)

Nicky Brooke (Actor)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Movie)

(Actor)

Heidi (TV Show)

Actor

Ruggles of Red Gap (Movie)

Alfred Ruggles (Performance)

Secret Beyond the Door (Movie)

Mark Lamphere (Actor)

The Captive Heart (Movie)

Capt. Karel Hasek (Actor)

The Way to the Stars (Movie)

Lt. David Archdale (Actor)

Biography

A British legend of stage and screen, Michael Redgrave made his name with a seemingly endless string of theatrical triumphs that included an amazing mastery of the great Shakespearean roles. A global ambassador for the British theatrical tradition and its potential to be among the highest of the art forms, Redgrave was eventually knighted for his services, along with his contemporaries Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. He also achieved a sterling reputation as a first-rate film actor, debuting in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) before earning an Oscar nomination for "Mourning Becomes Electra" (1947). He won Best Actor from the Cannes Film Festival for his star turn as a bitter teacher in "The Browning Version" (1951), which many felt ranked among the greatest screen performances of all time, and was BAFTA-nominated for "The Night My Number Came Up" (1955) and "Time Without Pity" (1957). He would go on to star in such classics as "The Innocents" (1961) and "Uncle Vanya" (1963) before retiring from acting when symptoms of Parkinson's disease became too great. When he passed away in 1985, the thespian left behind an unparalleled family acting dynasty that included his children Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, and grandchildren Natasha and Joely Richardson. His name synonymous with theatrical excellence and artistic integrity, Michael Redgrave reigned as one of its most respected actors of stage and screen.

Born March 20, 1908 in Bristol, England, Michael Scudamore Redgrave was the son of actors Margaret Scudamore and Roy Redgrave, although his father abandoned the family when Redgrave was an infant. Intelligent, sensitive and artistic, he became a teacher but never abandoned his love of literature and theater; he not only staged many plays at his school, but starred in them as well. Although Redgrave was either bisexual or homosexual and would later carry on secret affairs with several men, he came to an arrangement with actress Rachel Kempson and the two married in 1935, a year after he made his professional theatrical acting debut. Redgrave would go on to become one of the true British legends of the stage, famous for his polished performances in a variety of roles, particularly his Shakespearean triumphs in such masterpieces as "Love's Labours Lost," "As You Like It," "Hamlet" and "Macbeth."

In the 1950s, he completed several acclaimed stints in the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and was considered by many to be one of the most gifted and powerful interpreters of the Bard's work. Along with Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, Redgrave shone as one of the era's most gifted actors, all of whom would later be knighted for their services to the theater. He made his film debut as a train passenger caught up in a delicious mystery in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and went on to work steadily on the big screen in such films as "Stolen Life" (1939), "Thunder Rock" (1942) and "Dead of Night" (1945). He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his masterful turn as the fragile brother of the ruthless Lavinia (Rosalind Russell) in the film adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's classic "Mourning Becomes Electra" (1947).

Even more impressive, however, was his electrifying star turn in the Anthony Asquith/Terence Rattigan collaboration "The Browning Version" (1951), which also contained overtones of classical Greek tragedy. Playing a beaten-down, embittered teacher who, upon his retirement, realizes that it was not the students who failed him but the other way around, Redgrave was nothing short of magnificent, confronting his repression and failure in an unforgettably powerful monologue. For his work, he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Continuing to succeed on both the stage and screen, Redgrave earned a Best British Actor BAFTA nomination for the harrowing psychological thriller "The Night My Number Came Up" (1955), which dealt with the idea of fate and predestination via one fateful plane trip. The actor earned another BAFTA nod for his turn as an alcoholic father desperate to prove his son innocent of a murder charge in "Time Without Pity" (1957) and continued to book important roles in such enduring projects as "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952), "1984" (1956), "The Quiet American" (1958), "The Innocents" (1961) and "Uncle Vanya" (1963), repeating his stage triumph onscreen in the latter.

He narrated "The Great War" (BBC, 1964) and continued to land film and theatrical roles, but he was increasingly plagued by the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which made it impossible for him to memorize lines. His final theatrical role was in 1979's "Close of Play" and his final screen appearance came in "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1975). On March 21, 1985, he died of complications related to Parkinson's. Nevertheless, he left behind a distinguished legacy as an exceptional actor as well as the patriarch of the famed Redgrave acting dynasty that included wife Rachel Kempson and their children Vanessa, Corin and Lynn Redgrave, as well as his grandchildren Natasha and Joely Richardson, who all achieved artistic prominence. In fact, the very name "Redgrave" came to be synonymous with the best British acting and theatrical traditions, due in great part to the world-class talent and character of Michael Redgrave.

By Jonathan Riggs

Relationships

Peggy Anderson

Half-Sister

Cornelius Redgrave

Grandfather

J Anderson

Step-Father
made fortune working for Ceylon and Eastern Agency died c. 1947

Kelly Clark

Granddaughter
born c. 1970 daughter of Lynn Redgrave and John Clark

Noel Coward

Companion
had relationship in the late 1930s

Edith Evans

Companion
had relationship in the late 1930s

Rachel Kempson

Wife
married from July 18, 1935 until his death

Carlo Nero

Grandson
born in 1969 son of Vanessa and Carlo Nero

Jemma Redgrave

Granddaughter
born in 1965 daughter of Corin Redgrave and Diedre Hamilton-Hill

Roy Redgrave

Father
born in 1873 had been previously wed and had four children before his marriage to Daisy Scudamore abandoned Daisy and their son and moved to Australia where he died on May 25, 1922

Vanessa Redgrave

Daughter
Born Jan. 30, 1937; mother, Rachel Kempson

Corin Redgrave

Child
Born July 16, 1939 died April 2010

Lynn Redgrave

Child
Born March 8, 1943 died May 2, 2010 of cancer

Luke Redgrave

Grandson
born in 1967 son of Corin Redgrave and Diedre Hamilton-Hill

Natasha Richardson

Grandchild
Born on May 13, 1963 daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson

Joely Richardson

Grandchild
Born on January 9, 1965 daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson

Daisy Scudamore

Mother
died in 1958

EDUCATION

University of Cambridge

Cambridge , England 1927
Enrolled Magdalene College at Cambridge

Clifton College

Clifton , Bristol, City of

Milestones

1979

Final theatre appearance as Jasper in Simon Gray's "Close of Play"; directed by Harold Pinter

1970

Appeared as the older version of Dominic Guard's character Leo in "The Go-Between"

1968

Played the school headmaster in the musical remake of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"

1968

Portrayed Prospero in a BBC production of "The Tempest"

1968

Cast as the grandfather in "Heidi" (NBC)

1967

Starred in the ABC biographical drama "Mr. Dickens of London"

1962

Directed by then son-in-law Tony Richardson in "The Lonliness of the Long-Distance Runner"

1962

Enjoyed a stage triumph as Vanya in the Chichester Festival production of "Uncle Vanya"

1959

Starred in and wrote the play "The Aspern Papers"

1958

Played lead in "Behind the Mask"

1958

Co-starred with daughter Vanessa in the London production of "A Touch of the Sun"

1958

Had title role in "Hamlet" at the Moscow Art Theatre

1957

US TV debut in the title role of "Ruggles of Red Gap"

1956

Appeared in the film version of George Orwell's "1984"

1955

Reprised London role in "Tiger at the Gates" on Broadway; earned Tony nomination

1954

Acted opposite Rachel Kempson as husband and wife in "The Sea Shall Not Have Them"

1952

Played Jack Worthing in the screen adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"

1951

Won particular praise for his turn as a schoolteacher in "The Browning Version"

1948

Broadway debut in "Macbeth"

1948

Acted in Fritz Lang's "Secret Beyond the Door"

1947

Earned Best Actor Oscar nomination as Orin Mannon in the film adapation of Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra"; film not released in Great Britain until 1952

1946

Second screen teaming with wife in "The Captive Heart"

1944

Starred in London production of "Jacobowsky and the Colonel"

1944

Played a ventriloquist driven mad by his dummy in "Dead of Night"

1940

Played opposite wife Rachel Kempson in "Jeannie"

1940

Had title role in the Carol Reed directed, "Kipps"

1939

Co-starred in "Stolen Life"

1938

First credited film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes"

1936

Joined the Old Vic in the fall; debuted there in "Love's Labour's Lost"

1934

Professional acting debut at the Liverpool Playhouse in "Counsellor at Law"

1921

Amateur acting debut in a walk-on part in "Henry IV, Part 2" at Stratford-on-Avon

While at Cambridge, acted in and occasionally directed plays

Bonus Trivia

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In March 2000, the Redgrave family turned over Sir Michael's archive to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.

.

Lynn Redgrave's autobiographical book, This Is Living (Dutton, 1991) traced her eating problems to her father's bisexuality which she learned of as an adult.

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Redgrave was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1952. He was knighted in 1959.

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The 1996 BBC documentary film "Michael Redgrave: My Father," narrated by Corin Redgrave, and based on his book of the same name, discusses Michael's bisexuality.

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