Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Her notable stage works included the role of Lady Macbeth, which she played first in the 1920s, and gave an Emmy Award-winning television performance in Macbeth (1960). Anderson’s long association with Euripides’s “Medea” began with her acclaimed Tony Award-winning 1948 stage performance in the title role. She appeared in the television version of Medea (1983) in the supporting character of the Nurse.
Anderson made her Hollywood film debut under director Rowland Brown in a supporting role in Blood Money (1933). Her striking, not conventionally attractive features were complemented with her powerful presence, mastery of timing and an effortless style. Anderson made a film career as a supporting character actress in several significant films including Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), for which she was Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress. She worked with director Otto Preminger in Laura (1944), then with René Clair in And Then There Were None (1945). Her remarkable performance in a supporting role in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) fit in a stellar acting ensemble under director Richard Brooks.
Anderson was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1960 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for her services to the performing arts. Living in Santa Barbara in her later years, she also had a successful stint on the soap opera Santa Barbara (1984) and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 1984. In the same year, at age 87, she appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) as the High Priestess, and was nominated for a Saturn Award for that role. She was awarded Companion of the Order of Australia in the 1991 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to the performing arts. Anderson died at age 94 of pneumonia on January 3, 1992 in Santa Barbara, California.
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