Glenda Jackson: British politician and actress (1936-)
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Glenda Jackson
British politician and actress

Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British politician and actress
Is Politician Actor Film actor Stage actor
From United Kingdom
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Politics
Gender female
Birth 9 May 1936, Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside, United Kingdom
Age 87 years
Star sign Taurus
Politics Labour Party
Children: Dan Hodges
Height: 1.6891 m
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (-1956)
West Kirby Grammar School
Commander of the Order of the British Empire  
Academy Award for Best Actress 1970
Academy Award for Best Actress 1973
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role  
The details (from wikipedia)


Glenda May Jackson CBE (born 9 May 1936) is a British actress and politician. She has won two Academy Awards for Best Actress, receiving the first for her role as Gudrun Brangwen in the romantic drama film Women in Love (1970) and the second for her role as Vickie Allessio in the romantic comedy film A Touch of Class (1973). She also garnered praise for her performances as Alex Greville in the drama film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and Elizabeth I in the BBC television serial Elizabeth R (1971), winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for the latter. In 2018, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role in a revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, thus becoming one of the few performers to have achieved the "Triple Crown of Acting".

Jackson took a hiatus from acting to take on a career in politics from 1992 to 2015, and was elected as the Labour Party MP for Hampstead and Highgate in the 1992 general election. She served as a junior transport minister from 1997 to 1999 during the government of Tony Blair, later becoming critical of Blair. After constituency-boundary changes, she represented Hampstead and Kilburn from 2010. In the 2010 general election, her majority of 42 votes was one of the closest results of the entire election. She stood down at the 2015 general election and returned to acting.

Early life

Glenda May Jackson was born on 9 May 1936 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, where her father was a builder and her mother worked in shops and as a cleaner. She was educated at West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls in nearby West Kirby, and performed at the Townswomen's Guild drama group during her teens. She worked for two years in Boots before taking up a scholarship in 1954 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).


1957–1968: Early career

Jackson made her professional stage debut in Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables in 1957 while at RADA and appeared in repertory for the next six years. Her film debut was a bit part in This Sporting Life (1963). A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) for four years from 1964, she originally joined for director Peter Brook's Theatre of Cruelty season, which included Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade (1965), in which she played an inmate of an insane asylum portraying Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Jean-Paul Marat. The production ran on Broadway in 1965 and in Paris (Jackson appeared in the 1967 film version). Jackson also appeared as Ophelia in Peter Hall's production of Hamlet in the same year. Critic Penelope Gilliatt thought Jackson was the only Ophelia she had seen who was ready to play the Prince himself.

The RSC's staging at the Aldwych Theatre of US (1966), a protest play against the Vietnam War, also featured Jackson, and she appeared in its film version, Tell Me Lies. Later that year, she starred in the psychological drama Negatives (1968), which was not a huge financial success, but won her more good reviews.

1969–1980: Critical and commercial success

Jackson's starring role in Ken Russell's film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1969) led to her winning her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Brian McFarlane, the main author of The Encyclopedia of British Film, has written: "Her blazing intelligence, sexual challenge and abrasiveness were at the service of a superbly written role in a film with a passion rare in the annals of British cinema."

In the process of gaining funding for The Music Lovers (1970) from United Artists, Russell explained it as "the story of a homosexual who marries a nymphomaniac," the couple being the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) and Antonina Miliukova, played by Jackson. This film received mixed reviews in the U.S.: the anonymous reviewer in Variety wrote of the two principals, "Their performances are more dramatically bombastic than sympathetic, or sometimes even believable." Jackson was initially interested in the role of Sister Jeanne in The Devils (1971), Russell's next film, but turned it down after script rewrites and deciding that she did not wish to play a third neurotic character in a row.

In order to play Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC's serial Elizabeth R (1971), Jackson had her head shaved. After the series was shown on PBS in the US, Jackson received two Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance. She also portrayed Queen Elizabeth in the film Mary, Queen of Scots, and gained an Academy Award nomination and a BAFTA Award for her role in John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday (both 1971). In that year British exhibitors voted her the 6th most popular star at the British box office.

In 1971, she made the first of several appearances with Morecambe and Wise, appearing in a comedy sketch as Cleopatra for the BBC Morecambe and Wise Show in which she delivered the line "All men are fools and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got." Later appearances included a song and dance routine (in which she was pushed offstage by Eric), a period drama about Queen Victoria, and another musical routine (in their Thames Television series) in which she is elevated ten feet in the air by a misbehaving swivel chair. Jackson and Wise also appeared in an information film for the Blood Transfusion Service.

Filmmaker Melvin Frank saw her comedic potential on the Morecambe and Wise Show and offered her the lead female role in his next project. She gained a second Academy Award for Best Actress for Frank's A Touch of Class (1973), a romantic comedy co-starring George Segal. She continued to work in the theatre, and returned to the RSC to play the lead role in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. A later film version directed by Trevor Nunn was released as Hedda (1975), for which Jackson was nominated for an Oscar. In The New York Times, Vincent Canby praised Jackson's performance: "This version of Hedda Gabler is all Miss Jackson's Hedda and, I must say, great fun to watch ... Miss Jackson's technical virtuosity is particularly suited to a character like Hedda. Her command of her voice and her body, as well as the Jackson mannerisms, have the effect of separating the actress from the character in a very curious way." In 1978, she scored box office success in the United States in the romantic comedy House Calls, which co-starred Walter Matthau. Jackson and Matthau teamed again in the comedy Hopscotch (1980), which was a mild success, but not as popular as expected.

For her 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show, 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.

1980–1992: Later acting career

In 1985, she appeared on Broadway as Nina Leeds in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude at the Nederlander Theatre in a production which had originated in London the previous year and ran for eight weeks. John Beaufort for The Christian Science Monitor wrote: "Bravura is the inevitable word for Miss Jackson's display of feminine wiles and brilliant technique." Frank Rich in The New York Times thought Jackson, "with her helmet of hair and gashed features," when Leeds is a young woman, "looks like a cubist portrait of Louise Brooks," and later when the character has aged several decades, is "mesmerizing as a Zelda Fitzgeraldesque neurotic, a rotting and spiteful middle-aged matron and, finally, a spent, sphinx-like widow happily embracing extinction." Herbert Wise directed a British television version of O'Neill's drama which was first broadcast in the US as part of PBS's American Playhouse in January 1988.

In 1985, Jackson appeared in the title role of Racine's Phèdre at The Old Vic. The Daily Telegraph's John Barber wrote of her performance, "Wonderfully impressive . . . The actress finds a voice as jagged and hoarse as her torment." Benedict Nightingale in the New Statesman was intrigued that Jackson didn't go in for nobility, but played Racine's feverish queen as if to say that "being skewered in the guts by Cupid is an ugly, bitter, humiliating business."

In 1989, Jackson appeared in Ken Russell's The Rainbow, playing Anna Brangwen, mother of Gudrun, the part which had won her her first Academy Award twenty years earlier. Also in that year, she played Martha in a Los Angeles production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Doolittle Theatre (now the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre). Directed by the playwright himself, this staging featured John Lithgow as George. Dan Sullivan in the Los Angeles Times wrote that Jackson and Lithgow performed "with the assurance of dedicated character assassins, not your hire-and-salary types" with the actors being able to display their character's capacity for antipathy. Albee was disappointed with this production, pointing to Jackson who he thought "had retreated back to the thing she can do very well, that ice cold performance. I don't know whether she got scared, but in rehearsal she was being Martha, and the closer we got to opening the less Martha she was!"

She performed the lead role in Howard Barker's Scenes from an Execution as Galactia, a sixteenth century female Venetian artist, at the Almeida Theatre in 1990. It was an adaptation of Barker's 1984 radio play in which Jackson had played the same role.

1992–2015: Political career

Jackson retired from acting in order to stand for election to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election, subsequently becoming the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate. She has stated that she felt Britain was being "destroyed" by the policies of Thatcher and the Conservative government, so that she was willing to do "anything that was legal" to oppose her.

Following a period as a shadow transport minister, following the 1997 general election, she was appointed as a junior minister in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, with responsibility for transport in London. She resigned from the post in 1999 before an unsuccessful attempt to be nominated as the Labour Party candidate for the election of the first Mayor of London in 2000. In the 2005 general election, she received 14,615 votes, representing 38.29% of the votes cast in the constituency.

As a high-profile backbencher, she became a regular critic of Blair over his plans to introduce higher education tuition fees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She also called for him to resign following the Judicial Enquiry by Lord Hutton in 2003 surrounding the reasons for going to war in Iraq and the death of government adviser Dr. David Kelly. Jackson was generally considered to be a traditional left-winger, often disagreeing with the dominant Blairite governing Third Way faction in the Labour Party. Jackson is also a republican.

By October 2005, her disagreements with Blair's leadership swelled to a point where she threatened to challenge the Prime Minister as a stalking horse candidate in a leadership contest if he did not stand down within a reasonable amount of time. On 31 October 2006, Jackson was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.

Her constituency boundaries changed for the 2010 general election. The Gospel Oak and Highgate wards became part of Holborn & St Pancras, and the new Hampstead & Kilburn constituency switched into Brent to include Brondesbury, Kilburn and Queens Park wards (from the old Brent East and Brent South seats). On 6 May 2010, Jackson was elected as the MP for the new Hampstead and Kilburn constituency with a margin of 42 votes over Conservative Chris Philp, with the Liberal Democrat candidate Edward Fordham less than a thousand votes behind them. She had the second closest result and second smallest majority of any MP in the 2010 election.

In June 2011, Jackson announced that, presuming the Parliament elected in 2010 lasted until 2015, she would not seek re-election. She stated: "I will be almost 80 and by then it will be time for someone else to have a turn." The eventual election was held two days before her 79th birthday.

In April 2013, Jackson gave a speech in parliament following the death of Margaret Thatcher. She accused Thatcher of treating "vices as virtues" and stated that because of Thatcherism England was susceptible to unprecedented unemployment rates and homelessness. Another speech of Jackson's went viral in June 2014 when she gave a scathing assessment of Iain Duncan Smith's tenure as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, telling him that he was responsible for the "destruction of the welfare state and the total and utter incompetence of his department".

2015–present: Return to acting

In 2015, Jackson returned to acting following a 23-year absence, having retired from politics. She took the role of Dide, the ancient matriarch, in a series of Radio 4 plays, Blood, Sex and Money, based on a series of novels by Émile Zola. She returned to the stage at the end of 2016, playing the title role in William Shakespeare's King Lear at the Old Vic Theatre in London, in a production running from 25 October to 3 December. Jackson was nominated for Best Actress at the Olivier Awards for her role, but ultimately lost out to Billie Piper. She did, however, win the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress at the 2017 Evening Standard Theatre Awards for her performance. Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph wrote, "Glenda Jackson is tremendous as King Lear. No ifs, no buts. In returning to the stage at the age of 80, 25 years after her last performance (as the Clytemnestra-like Christine in Eugene O'Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra at the Glasgow Citizens), she has pulled off one of those 11th-hour feats of human endeavour that will surely be talked about for years to come by those who see it."

In 2018, Jackson returned to Broadway in a revival of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Marilyn Stasio of Variety wrote, "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."

Jackson returned to the role of King Lear on Broadway in a production that opened in April 2019. Director Sam Gold describes her portrayal of Lear in The New York Times Magazine : "She is going to go through something most people don't go through. You're all invited. Glenda Jackson is going to endure this, and you're going to witness it."

In 2019, after a 27-year absence, Jackson returned to television drama, portraying an elderly grandmother struggling with dementia in Elizabeth is Missing on BBC One, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Healey.

Personal life

Jackson was married to Roy Hodges from 1958 until their divorce in 1976. They had a son, Dan Hodges (born 1969), who is now a newspaper columnist and former Labour Party adviser and commentator. Jackson was five months pregnant when filming on Women in Love was completed.


Commonwealth honours

Commonwealth honours
Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 United Kingdom 1978 – Present Commander of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) CBE


Chancellor, visitor, governor, rector and fellowships
Location Date School Position
 England Liverpool John Moores University Honorary Fellow

Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Status
 England 9 July 1978 University of Liverpool Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)
 Pennsylvania 1981 University of Scranton Doctorate
 England 1987 Keele University Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)
 England 1988 University of Exeter Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)
 England 1992 University of Durham Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)


Year Title Role Venue
1964 Marat/Sade Charlotte Corday Aldwych Theatre
1965 Martin Beck Theatre
1965 Hamlet Ophelia Aldwych Theatre
1966 US Protester Aldwych Theatre
1975 Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler Aldwych Theatre
1976 The White Devil Vittoria The Old Vic
1977 Stevie Stevie Smith Vaudeville Theatre
1978 Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra Aldwych Theatre
1980 Rose Rose Duke of York's Theatre
1981 Cort Theatre
1982 Summit Conference Eva Braun Lyric Theatre
1983 Big and Little Lotte Vaudeville Theatre
1984 Strange Interlude Nina Leeds Duke of York's Theatre
1985 Nederlander Theatre
1985 Phèdre Phèdre The Old Vic
1986 Across from the Garden of Allah The Comedy Theatre
1986 The House of Bernarda Alba Bernarda Alba Lyric Theatre
1988 Macbeth Lady Macbeth Mark Hellinger Theatre
1989 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha Doolittle Theatre
1990 Scenes from an Execution Galactia Almeida Theatre
1990 Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage Citizens Theatre
1991 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon Citizens Theatre
2016 King Lear King Lear The Old Vic
2018 Three Tall Women A John Golden Theatre
2019 King Lear King Lear Cort Theatre

Awards and nominations

Tony Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1965 Marat/Sade Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated
1981 Rose Best Actress in a Play Nominated
1985 Strange Interlude Best Actress in a Play Nominated
1988 Macbeth Best Actress in a Play Nominated
2018 Three Tall Women Best Actress in a Play Won

Academy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1971 Women in Love Best Actress Won
1972 Sunday Bloody Sunday Best Actress Nominated
1974 A Touch of Class Best Actress Won
1976 Hedda Best Actress Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1972 Elizabeth R Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
1972 Elizabeth R Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Won
1972 Elizabeth R Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Drama Series Won
1982 The Patricia Neal Story Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1971 Women in Love Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
1972 Mary, Queen of Scots Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
1974 A Touch of Class Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy Won
1976 Hedda Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
1977 The Incredible Sarah Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
1979 Stevie Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
1982 The Patricia Neal Story Best Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
1985 Sakharov Best Actress in a Miniseries Nominated


Year Nominated work Category Result
1970 Women in Love Best Actress Nominated
1971 BBC Play of the Month: Howards End Best Actress Nominated
1972 Elizabeth R Best Actress Nominated
1972 Sunday Bloody Sunday Best Actress Won
1974 A Touch of Class Best Actress Nominated
2020 Elizabeth is Missing Best Actress Won

New York Film Critics Circle Award

Year Nominated work Category Result
1970 Women in Love Best Actress Won
1974 A Touch of Class Best Actress Nominated
1981 Stevie Best Actress Won

Laurence Olivier Award

Year Nominated work Category Result
1977 Stevie Actress of the Year in a New Play Nominated
1979 Antony and Cleopatra Actress of the Year in a Revival Nominated
1980 Rose Actress of the Year in a New Play Nominated
1984 Strange Interlude Actress of the Year in a Revival Nominated
2017 King Lear Best Actress Nominated
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 01 Aug 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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