English actress Francesca Annis, who has enjoyed a 50-plus year career, spanning seven decades in movies, television and the theater, was born in London six days after V-E Day, on May 14, 1945. Her father, Lester, was English, but her mother, Mariquita (aka Mara Purcell), was of Brazilian-French heritage. From the time she was a year old to the age of seven, the family lived in Brazil. The young Francesca spoke Portuguese, that country’s language, as a child. Educated at a convent school, she dreamed of becoming a nun but trained as a ballet dancer before studying drama at the Corona Theatre School. She began acting in bit parts in the 1950s, working her way up to better roles. In addition to appearing on the big and little screens, she was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Her most famous roles are as Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s version of Macbeth (1971), in which she had a notorious nude sleepwalking scene, and as Kyle MacLachlan (Paul Atreides)’ mother Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune (1984). A highly respected performer, in 1979, she won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress, playing Lily Langtry in the miniseries Lillie (1978). She appeared with James Warwick as husband and wife sleuths Tommy and Tuppence Beresford in the television series Partners in Crime (1983). She also appeared as Jacqueline Kennedy in the television movie Onassis: The Richest Man in the World (1988).
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