British Acting Legend Lynn Redgrave Dies at 67

Obituaries   British Acting Legend Lynn Redgrave Dies at 67
Lynn Redgrave, a member of England's legendary acting clan, died Sunday night at her home in Connecticut. In 2003, Redgrave had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 67.

Acting great Lynn Redgrave passed away May 2
Acting great Lynn Redgrave passed away May 2

Redgrave's children, Ben, Pema, and Annabel, and close friends were at her side at the time of her death.

In a May 3 statement, her children said, "Our beloved mother Lynn Rachel passed away peacefully after a seven year journey with breast cancer. She lived, loved and worked harder than ever before. The endless memories she created as a mother, grandmother, writer, actor and friend will sustain us for the rest of our lives. Our entire family asks for privacy through this difficult time."

The death comes just weeks after the passing of Ms. Redgrave's actor brother, Corin Redgrave, and a little more than a year after the demise of her actress niece, Natasha Richardson.

Redgrave made her professional debut in 1962, as part of the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre. In 1966, she became a film star as the star of "Georgy Girl."

Her numerous Broadway credits included Black Comedy/White Lies, My Fat Friend, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Knock Knock, Saint Joan, Aren't We All?, Sweet Sue, Love Letters, A Little Hotel on the Side, The Master Builder, Shakespeare for My Father, Moon over Buffalo and The Constant Wife. Ms. Redgrave was a 2006 Tony Award nominee for Best Actress in a Play (The Constant Wife), a 1993 Tony Award nominee for Best Actress in a Play (Shakespeare for My Father, which she wrote) and a 1976 Tony Award nominee for Best Actress in a Play (Mrs. Warren's Professsion).

She was also a two-time Academy Award nominee (1999, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for "Gods and Monsters" and 1967 Best Actress in a Leading Role for "Georgy Girl").

In a recent interview for, Ms. Redgrave spoke about her illness. When asked how her battle with breast cancer had changed her life, she answered, "Life-threatening disease tends to make anyone stop in your tracks and look at life. Before I had cancer, I don't know that I ever slowed down inside my mind enough to look outside and really live in the moment. But once you have that threat of the moment actually not being there you're going to pay attention. And that has completely stuck with me. I savor every moment with family and loved ones. I find that I never want to leave unsolved or unhealed a relationship, a disagreement, something between me and another person. If they've upset me, or the other way around, we have to talk about it. If someone did something that upset me, I have to tell them why they've upset me. And if I've given short shrift to someone else, however inadvertently, I apologize and try to put it right immediately, lest there be no tomorrow.

"And I don't stress about the little things, the stupid things. I used to get distress attacks, almost panic attacks, packing to go on trips – what if the car doesn't come? Sitting at airports when the plane is delayed. Well, you know, I let it go. What will be will be. I usually try to have a copy of the latest New Yorker with me. That can see you through any plane delay."

Last fall, she performed Off-Broadway in her own Nightingale, her solo show inspired by the life of her maternal grandmother, at Manhattan Theatre Club. During preparations for the show,  according to the New York Times, Ms. Redgrave said she had undergone treatment at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and that her cancer was Stage IV, meaning that it had spread to other organs.

Nightingale was the most recent of a series of self-penned, one-person shows that saw Ms. Redgrave both venture in playwriting and simultaneously examine the members of her celebrated family. Shakespeare for My Father was about Michael Redgrave, the head of the family, and Rachel and Juliet was about her mother, Rachel Kempson. Her mother was also the inspiration of Ms. Redgrave's play The Mandrake Root. She admitted that she used the plays to work out unresolved issues with her famous family members.

Ms. Redgrave, who was perhaps the most openly confessional and emotionally questing of the Redgrave family, told the New York Times that links to her relatives were important to her understanding of herself and her place in the world. "I have this thing, it’s like holding hands, even dead or alive, but holding, holding because then somehow it makes me O.K., I’m being held steady," she said.

Lynn Redgrave was the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, who naturally assumed their children, which also include older sister Vanessa Redgrave, who survives her, would enter the family profession. "Until I was fifteen," she said, "I wanted to be an equestrian. I had a job lined up and then I spent another summer at Stratford-Upon-Avon with my parents and I fell in love with acting."

Ms. Redgrave trained in London's Central School of Speech and Drama. She made her West End debut at the Haymarket, in N.C. Hunter's The Tulip Tree. During this time, she began appearing in films such as "Tom Jones" in 1963. As such, she become a movie personality before her sister Vanessa. She did not, however, find the experience entirely pleasurable. "Looking at my horrible ugly bulk on a huge screen was the turning point in my life," she said later.

While quite accomplished, Ms. Redgrave never achieved the regal stardom of her sister, and seemed well aware of it. "Vanessa was the one expected to be the great actress," she told The Associated Press in 1999. "It was always, 'Corin's the brain, Vanessa the shining star, oh, and then there's Lynn.'" Yet, she brought a warmth, sense of comedy and unpretentiousness to her roles that often escaped his sister. Of all the Redgrave children, she seemed the most approachable.

She was perhaps the most visible of the Redgraves to American audiences, owing to her starring role in the television sitcom "House Calls" (1979-81) and her role as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers weight loss foods. The line she spoke in those commercials, "This is living!" later became the title of her autobiography.

Beginning in the 1990s, she began to refocus her attentions on the stage. She became a member of Tony Randall's National Actors Theatre, which presented classics such as Feydeau and Ibsen on Broadway. With her sister Vanessa, she returned to the London stage playing Masha in Three Sisters in 1991 at the Queen's Theatre, London.

In 1967, Lynn Redgrave married the British/Canadian/American actor and director John Clark. Together they had three children, Benjamin, Kelly, and Annabel Lucy, who survive her and were with her when she died. The marriage ended in divorce in December 2000.

Redgrave was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2001. She was a naturalized citizen of the United States.

A private funeral with be held later this week.

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