DAME JUDI DENCH Biography - Actors and Actresses


Biography » actors and actresses » dame judi dench


Name: Judith Olivia Dench                                                                                 
Born: 9 December 1934 Yorkshire, England                                                                 
Dame Judith Olivia Dench (born December 9, 1934), usually known                                           
as Dame Judi Dench, is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, Tony-, three-time BAFTA-,                       
and six-time Laurence Olivier Award-winning English actress.                                             
Dench was born in York, North Yorkshire, the daughter of Eleanora Olave (née                             
Jones), a native of Dublin, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor who met Dench's                           
mother while studying medicine at Trinity College. Dench was raised                                       
a Quaker and lived in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester. Notable relatives                                   
include actor Jeffrey Dench, her older brother, and her niece Emma Dench, a                               
Roman historian previously at Birkbeck, University of London, and currently                               
at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.                                                         
When Dench was 13, she entered The Mount School, York. In 1971, Dench married                             
British actor Michael Williams and they had their only child, Tara Cressida                               
Williams (aka "Finty Williams"), on September 24, 1972, who has followed the                             
family's theatrical tradition to become an accomplished actress in her own right.                         
Dench and Williams went on to star together in several stage productions, as                             
well as separately, but then paired again to make television history with Bob                             
Larby's hit British sitcom, A Fine Romance (1981–84).                                                   
Williams died, aged 65, in 2001.                                                                         
In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actresses of                         
the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her                           
main forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one                           
in polls for Britain's best actress.                                                                     
Dench was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire                         
in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005. She gained worldwide popular                                 
fame after taking over the role of M in the James Bond film series in 1995, and                           
subsequently through many acclaimed film appearances. In 2000-2001 she received                           
an Honorary DLitt from Durham University.                                                                 
Dench is a patron of The Leaveners, Friends School Saffron Walden and the                                 
Archway Theatre, Horley, UK. She became president of Mountview Academy of                                 
Theatre Arts in London in 2006, taking over from Sir John Mills, and is also                             
president of the Questors Theatre. In May 2006, she became an Honorary Fellow of                         
the Royal Society of Arts.                                                                               
Before starting her professional career Judi Dench trained for the stage at the                           
Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, and was involved in the                               
first three productions of the modern revival of the York Mystery Plays in the                           
1950s. Most famously, she played the role of the Virgin Mary in the 1957                                 
production, performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens.                                             
In September 1957 she made her first professional stage appearance with the Old                           
Vic Company, at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, as Ophelia in Hamlet, then                           
her London debut in the same production at the Old Vic. She remained a member of                         
the company for four seasons, 1957-1961, her roles including Katherine in Henry                           
V in 1958 (which was also her New York debut) and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet                           
in October 1960, directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli. During this period                           
she toured the United States and Canada, and appeared in Yugoslavia and at the                           
Edinburgh Festival.                                                                                       
She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in December 1961 playing Anya in The                             
Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in London, and made her Stratford-upon-Avon                         
debut in April 1962 as Isabella in Measure for Measure. She subsequently spent                           
seasons in repertory both with Nottingham Playhouse from January 1963 (including                         
a West African tour as Lady Macbeth for the British Council), and with the                               
Oxford Playhouse Company from April 1964.                                                                 
In 1968 she was offered the role of Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret. As                               
Sheridan Morley later reported: "At first she thought they were joking. She had                           
never done a musical and she has an unusual croaky voice which sounds as if she                           
has a permanent cold. So frightened was she of singing in public that she                                 
auditioned from the wings, leaving the pianists alone on stage". But when it                             
opened at the Palace Theatre in February 1968, Frank Marcus, reviewing for Plays                         
and Players, commented that: "She sings well. The title song in particular is                             
projected with great feeling."                                                                           
After a long run in Cabaret she rejoined the RSC making numerous appearances                             
with the company in Stratford and London over the next two decades, winning                               
several best actress awards. Among her roles with the RSC, she was the Duchess                           
in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi in 1971. In the Stratford 1976 season,                             
and then at the Aldwych in 1977, she gave two comedy performances, first in                               
Trevor Nunn's musical staging of The Comedy of Errors as Adriana, then partnered                         
with Donald Sinden as Beatrice and Benedick in John Barton's "British Raj"                               
revival of Much Ado About Nothing. As Bernard Levin wrote in the Sunday Times: "...demonstrating         
once more that she is a comic actress of consummate skill, perhaps the very best                         
we have."                                                                                                 
But one of her most notable achievements with the RSC was her performance as                             
Lady Macbeth in 1976. Nunn's acclaimed production of Macbeth was first staged                             
with a minimalist design at The Other Place theatre in Stratford. Its small                               
round stage focused attention on the psychological dynamics of the characters,                           
and both Ian McKellen in the title role, and Dench, received exceptionally                               
favourable notices. "If this is not great acting I don't know what is.": Michael                         
Billington, The Guardian. "It will astonish me if the performance is matched by                           
any in this actress's generation.": J C Trewin, The Lady. The production                                 
transferred to London, opening at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1977, was                             
filmed for television, and later released on VHS and finally DVD. She won the                             
SWET Best Actress Award in 1977.                                                                         
Dench made her directing debut in 1988 with the Renaissance Theatre Company's                             
touring season, Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, co-produced with the                                 
Birmingham Rep, and ending with a three month repertory programme at the Phoenix                         
Theatre in London. Dench's contribution was a staging of Much Ado About Nothing,                         
set in the Napoleonic era, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Samantha Bond as                             
Benedick and Beatrice. In the same season, Geraldine McEwan and Derek Jacobi                             
also made their directorial debuts.                                                                       
She has made numerous appearances in the West End including the role of Miss                             
Trent in the 1974 musical version of The Good Companions at Her Majesty's                                 
Theatre, and with the National Theatre in London where, in September 1995, she                           
played Desiree Armfeldt in a major revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night                           
Music, for which she won an Olivier Award.                                                               
In 1995 she became known to an international audience after taking over the role                         
of 'M' (James Bond's boss) with the James Bond franchise, starting with                                   
GoldenEye. She remains in the role as of the latest film in the series, 2006's                           
Casino Royale.                                                                                           
She has won multiple awards for performances on the London stage, including a                             
record six Laurence Olivier Awards. She also won the Tony award for her 1999                             
Broadway performance in the role of Esme Allen in David Hare's Amy's View.                               
Alongside her numerous award winning performances, she has also managed to take                           
on the role of Director for a number of stage productions. Dench won the Academy                         
Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love.                         
Judi Dench has frequently appeared with her close friend Geoffrey Palmer, in the                         
series As Time Goes By and in the films Mrs. Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, both                         
filmed in 1997. Judi Dench has also lent her incredible voice to many animated                           
characters, narrations, and various other voice work. She plays the role of "Miss                         
Lilly" in the children's animated series Angelina Ballerina (alongside her                               
daughter, Finty Williams, as the voice of Angelina), as Mrs. Calloway in the                             
Disney animated film Home on the Range, she has narrated various classical music                         
recordings (notably Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Britten's                               
Canticles-The Heart of the Matter), numerous BBC radio broadcasts, as well as                             
commercials. Her many television appearances include lead roles in the series A                           
Fine Romance and As Time Goes By.