Of regal bearing and imposing stance, British classical actress Judy Parfitt is the possessor of the chilliest blue orbs in all of London and has used them to her advantage over the years with her portrayals of haughty, bossy, scheming and deliciously malevolent patricians. Born in Yorkshire, she was originally trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and made her stage debut with “Fools Rush In” in 1954, continuing to impress with such pieces as “Things Remembered” (1955) and “A Likely Talk” (1956). It wasn’t until mid-career in the late 1960s that she drew the type of widespread attention she deserved.
Judy earned critical acclaim for her Gertrude in the 1969 stage production of “Hamlet”, which starred Nicol Williamson in the title role and Anthony Hopkins as Claudius, with the inspiring casting of Marianne Faithfull (yes, the Brit pop singer) as Ophelia. Judy transferred her role to film in the same year and met with equal success. From then on, she graced a number of TV adaptations of literary classics including Pride and Prejudice (1980) and The Jewel in the Crown (1984), while continuing to receive applause for her theatre work in productions of “The Duchess of Malfi” (1971); “Vivat! Vivat Regina!” (1971) as Mary, Queen of Scots; “The Apple Cart” (1973); “The Cherry Orchard” (1978) and “An Inspector Calls” (1993). More recently, she co-starred with Matthew Broderick in a Broadway revival of “Night Must Fall” (1999). She made a belated Hollywood film debut in the gloomy-styled thriller Dolores Claiborne (1995) and nearly stole the thunder right out from under star Kathy Bates with her electric portrayal of Kathy Bates’ wealthy, dictatorial employer. Her clever and utterly gripping performance was shamefully overlooked come Oscar time. Judy was long married to actor Tony Steedman, who made a guest appearance on her short-lived sitcom The Charmings (1987) in the late 1980s. He died in February of 2001. Since then she has ventured on, an always glowing character presence in elegant and period settings.
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