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Redgrave

Redgrave, family of English actors. Sir Michael Redgrave, 1908–85, b. Bristol, Eng., was an actor, director, and writer. After his first professional performance in Counsellor-at-Law (1934), he appeared in an enormous number of stage plays, films, and television plays. He was especially adept at emotionally tense, cerebral roles. His major stage appearances include As You Like It, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Family Reunion, Uncle Vanya, and Mourning Becomes Electra. Among his films are The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Browning Version (1951), and The Hill (1965). His most famous film role was as a ventriloquist tormented by his dummy in Dead of Night (1945). Redgrave was married to the actress Rachel Kempson (1910–2003).

See Redgrave's Mask and Face (1953) and The Actor's Ways and Means (1954); C. Redgrave, Michael Redgrave—My Father (1995); biography by K. B. F. Bain (1956).

His elder daughter, Vanessa Redgrave, 1937–, b. London, is noted for her versatility and her elegant, somewhat austere presence. She has frequently appeared on the London stage and is also a powerful movie actress. Her films include Morgan! (1966), Isadora (1968), The Trojan Women (1972), Julia (1977), The Bostonians (1984), Steaming (1986), and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1991). She has been the subject of controversy for her support of various left-wing causes. Her sister Lynn Redgrave, 1943–2010, b. London, appeared on stage, debuting in 1962, and in several films, notably Georgy Girl (1966), Shine (1996), and Gods and Monsters (1998). Living in the United States for many years, she found a niche as a television comedienne, but also acted in more serious roles, e.g., Shakespeare for My Father (1993). The latter was one of four plays that she wrote during the last two decades of her life, all of which draw on her family's history for their subject matter. Their brother, Corin Redgrave (Corin William Redgrave), 1939–2010, was also a noted stage and film actor. In 1994 he and his sister Vanessa founded the Moving Theatre company, mounting productions in which both of the theatrical siblings acted and directed. Vanessa and film director Tony Richardson had two daughters, both actresses: Natasha Richardson, 1963–2009, who died in a skiing accident, and Joely Richardson, 1965–. Along with Corin's daughter, Jemma Redgrave, 1965–, who also is an actress, they have brought acclaim to a third generation of the Redgrave family.

See R. Kempson, Life among the Redgraves (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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