Plowright, widow of Laurence Olivier and a most distinguished actress in her own right, was appointed a Dame. Throughout her career she has balanced film and stage work (she met Olivier when she played his daughter in John Osborne’s The Entertainer at the Royal Court). But there had been fears that the stage had lost her to Hollywood. Her last Broadway appearance was in 1980 (in Filumena); previous to that it was her Tony-winning turn in A Taste Of Honey back in 1960. But 2003 saw her take to the boards once more, when she starred in Pirandello’s Absolutely! (perhaps) at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre, in a production by Franco Zeffirelli (a favorite Plowright collaborator who coincidentally had directed her in that New York Filumena). Daldry was awarded a CBE. The former artistic director of London’s Royal Court’s Broadway showings include the spectacular 1994 production of Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and David Hare’s one-man show Via Dolorosa in 1999. Having impressed the movie-world with 2001’s “Billy Elliot” and 2002’s “The Hours” (another Hare script), he is soon to return to the stage to direct a West End musical version of Billy Elliot.
Pete Postlethwaite was given an OBE, a reward for years of excellent work on both stage and screen (his movies include “In The Name of the Father”, “The Usual Suspects,” “Romeo + Juliet” and “Jurassic Park: The Lost World”). He spent must of 2003 touring Justin Butcher’s play Scaramouche Jones around the world, from London to Australia, and had another notable stage hit in Pinter’s in Manchester, England.
Virginia McKenna won her OBE for services to animal welfare. Although a distinguished stage actress (a one-time member of both the Old Vic company and the Royal Shakespeare Company) she is best known for her role in the movie “Born Free”, about a couple’s relationship with young lions. The part inspired her to work with animals, and it is that side of her life that got to Buckingham Palace.