Oscar-Winning UK Actress Glenda Jackson Dies

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

British actress Glenda Jackson, the two-time Oscar-winning actress who went on to become an MP, died on Thursday at the age of 87, prompting tributes from the worlds of entertainment and politics, reports AFP.

Her agent Lionel Larner said she "died peacefully at her home in Blackheath London this morning after a brief illness with her family at her side."

"She recently completed filming 'The Great Escaper' in which she co-starred with Michael Caine," he added.

The film tells the true story of a World War II veteran who escaped his care home to attend a commemoration of the D-Day landings in France.

Caine, who turned 90 this year, described Jackson, with whom he previously worked in 1975 on "The Romantic Englishwoman," as "one of our greatest movie actresses."

"It was a privilege to work with her on 'The Great Escaper' recently, our second film together," he said.

"It was as wonderful an experience this time as it was 50 years ago. I shall miss her."

Jackson won the Best Actress Oscar in 1970 for her leading performance in Ken Russell's film adaptation of DH Lawrence's novel "Women in Love."

She won it again in 1973 for her role in "A Touch of Class," in which she played a woman falling in love with the man with whom she is having an affair.

Despite her status as a formidable actress, she frequently showed her lighter side with appearances on popular British comedy series the "Morecambe and Wise Show."

'Extraordinary talent'

Jackson was born on May 9, 1936, in Birkenhead, a small port town near Liverpool, northwest England, to a bricklayer and a cleaning lady.

At 16 she went to work in a chemist's shop, doing amateur dramatics in her spare time.

When she was 18 she won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.

She developed a distinguished career in theatre, which included time with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) working under legendary director Peter Brook.

The Royal Shakespeare Company on Thursday paid tribute to her "a tour de force in acting and politics, dedicating her life to both."

"We're proud her extraordinary talent was seen on RSC stages in her career in ground-breaking productions. Our thoughts are with Glenda's family," it added.

She became a familiar face in cinema from the late 1960s, with Russell championing her early career.

Jackson was elected as a Labour MP for her local London constituency of Hampstead and Highgate in 1992, and served as a transport minister in Tony Blair's government between 1997 and 1999.

Jackson stepped down as an MP in 2015, and returned to the stage after an absence of 23 years for a rare gender-swapping role in a London production of "King Lear" in 2016.

A triumphant return

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Jackson's death "leaves a space in our cultural and political life that can never be filled.

"From award-winning actor to campaigner and activist to Labour MP and government minister, Glenda Jackson was always fighting for human rights and social justice."

Alastair Campbell, Labour's influential press chief during the Blair government, called her "one of the finest actresses of our lifetime.

"I sometimes felt she found the transition to politics harder than she expected. But a great life well lived," he tweeted.

Jackson also advised Labour's Ken Livingstone when he was London mayor on housing policy and campaigned against homelessness in the capital between 2000 and 2004.

In 2018, aged 82, she won her first Tony -- the equivalent of the Oscars for theatre -- for best actress in "Three Tall Women."

A year later she reprised the role of "King Lear" in Broadway for a performance The New York Times described as "powerful and deeply perceptive."

Jackson was married to actor Roy Hodges from 1958 to 1976. Their son Dan Hodges is a political columnist.

In 1978, she was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

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