After training at London’s Central School, Lynn Redgrave made her professional debut in a 1962 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Court Theatre. Following a tour of Billy Liar and rep in Dundee, she made her West End debut at the Haymarket, in N. C. Hunter’s The Tulip Tree with Celia Johnson and John Clements. Then came an invitation to join the National Theatre for its inaugural season at the Old Vic, and with it the opportunity to work with such directors as William Gaskill, John Dexter, Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli and Noël Coward in roles such as Rose in The Recruiting Officer, Barblin in Andorra, Jackie in Hay Fever, Kattrin in Mother Courage, Miss Prue in Love for Love, and Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing, which kept her busy for the next three years.
During that time she appeared in films such as Tom Jones, Girl with Green Eyes and The Deadly Affair. Her big chance came in 1966 with the title role in Georgy Girl, which earned her the New York Film Critics Award, the Golden Globe, and an Oscar nomination.
In 1967 she made her Broadway debut in Black Comedy with Michael Crawford and Geraldine Page. London appearances included Michael Frayn’s The Two of Us with Richard Briers at the Garrick, David Hare’s Slag at the Royal Court, and Born Yesterday, directed by Tom Stoppard, at Greenwich.
In 1974, she returned to Broadway in My Fat Friend. There soon followed Knock Knock with Charles Durning, Mrs. Warren’s Profession (for a Tony nomination) with Ruth Gordon, and Saint Joan. Then in the 1985–1986 season she appeared with Rex Harrison, Claudette Colbert, and Jeremy Brett in Aren’t We All? and with Mary Tyler Moore in A. R. Gurney’s Sweet Sue. Outside New York, she was in Misalliance in Chicago with Irene Worth (earning the Sarah Siddons and Joseph Jefferson Awards), Twelfth Night at the American Shakespeare Festival, California Suite, The King and I, Hellzapoppin’, Les Dames du Jeudi, Les Liasions Dangereuses, The Cherry Orchard and in the early winter of 1991 starred with Stewart Granger and Ricardo Montalban in a Hollywood production of Don Juan in Hell.
With her sister Vanessa as Olga, she returned to the London stage playing Masha in Three Sisters in 1991 at the Queen’s Theatre, London, and later played the title role in a television production of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, again with Vanessa. Highlights of her early movie career also include The National Health, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, The Happy Hooker and Getting It Right. For American television she was seen in the series Teachers Only, House Calls, Centennial and Chicken Soup, while for the BBC she starred in The Faint-hearted Feminist, A Woman Alone, Death of a Son, Calling the Shots and Fighting Back. She played Broadway again in Moon Over Buffalo (1996) with co-star Robert Goulet, and starred in the world premiere of Tennessee Williams’ The Notebook of Trigorin, based on Chekhov’s The Seagull.
Her film career was revitalized in the 1990s and 2000s by such films as Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters (1998, Golden Globe winner), Scott Hicks’ Shine, P. J. Hogan’s Peter Pan, Bill Condon’s Kinsey and James Ivory’s The White Countess.
Sadly, Ms. Redgrave, at age 67, passed away in May 2010 from a long battle with breast cancer. She died less than a month after her brother, actor Corin, also succumbed to cancer, thus leaving her sister, Vanessa, as the only surviving scion of revered British actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. In the last two decades, Lynn Redgrave had written and performed in several plays that explored the history and dynamics of her “theatrically royal” family: Shakespeare for My Father (which started as the autobiographical section of her book This Is Living), Nightingale, The Mandrake Root and Rachel & Juliet. Her honesty in detailing her family issues, in discussing her battles with weight loss and illness, and in standing up for her right to breast-feed while at work (which led to an extracted lawsuit against Universal Studios) endeared her to many. A familiar face on stage and screen (and the voice of countless audiobooks), the industrious Ms. Redgrave was a consummate dramatic actress and a gifted comedienne and entertainer who swung easily from Shakespeare, Shaw and Chekhov to Fantasy Island, The Muppet Show and $20,000 Pyramid. Even with such a wildly eclectic resumé, she was frequently acclaimed by critics and nominated multiple times for Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards, ably contributing to her family’s brilliant professional reputation. Her native country thought so, too. On December 31, 2001, she was honored by an appointment as an Officer of the British Empire.
My Dog Tulip, her last film to be released, is dedicated to her memory.
2009 My Dog Tulip (voice)
2009 Confessions of a Shopaholic
2007 The Jane Austen Book Club
2005 The White Countess
2002 Unconditional Love
1999 The Annihilation of Fish
1998 Gods and Monsters
1972 Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
1966 Georgy Girl
1963 Tom Jones