Peggy Ashcroft was a leading light of London's West End and widely considered one of the century's greatest British stage actresses. Her most famous early role was as Desdemona opposite Paul Robeson's Othello in the early 1940s and her first film was the British Gaumont production "The Wandering Jew" (1933). She was especially memorable as the quiet, emotionally suffocating village wife who briefly shelters the on-the-lam Robert Donat in Alfred Hitchcock's classic "The Thirty Nine Steps" (1935). Along with frequent costar John Gielgud, Ashcroft's leading men during her 65-year career included Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave and Ralph Richardson. She enjoyed her greatest international acclaim and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her 1984 role in David Lean's film adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel "A Passage to India" and subsequently won renown for the TV miniseries "The Jewel in the Crown" (1984-85).