Leighton in 1959.
26 February 1922|
Barnt Green, Worcestershire, England, U.K.
|Died||13 January 1976
Chichester, Sussex, England, U.K.
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Max Reinhardt (1947-1955)
Laurence Harvey (1957-1961)
Michael Wilding (1964-1976) (her death)
Margaret Leighton (26 February 1922 – 13 January 1976) was an English actress. She was known for her exquisite sense of grandeur and refinement. She created the role of Hannah Jelkes in Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana.
Life and career
Born in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, Leighton made her stage debut as Dorothy in Laugh With Me (1938), which was also performed that year for BBC Television. She became a star of the Old Vic. Her Broadway debut was as the Queen in Henry IV (1946) starring Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson during a visit to America of the Old Vic company, which performed a total of five plays from its repertoire before returning to London.
After appearing in two British films, including the starring role of Flora MacDonald opposite David Niven in Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948), the tall willowy actress played second female lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949) starring Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten and Michael Wilding. She starred with Walter Pidgeon in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer crime/mystery Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951).
Leighton had three husbands: publisher Max Reinhardt (married 1947-divorced 1955); actor Laurence Harvey (married 1957-divorced 1961); and actor Michael Wilding (married 1964-her death 1976). She had no children.
She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Separate Tables (1956); she won another Tony in that category for The Night of the Iguana (1962), playing the luminous Hannah Jelkes (a role played by Deborah Kerr on film) opposite Bette Davis's Maxine Faulk. Leighton was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for Much Ado About Nothing (1959) opposite John Gielgud and for Tchin-Tchin (1962) opposite Anthony Quinn.
She had a noteworthy list of TV appearances, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey and Burke's Law. She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama for Hamlet (1970). And she was nominated for an Emmy in 1966 for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama for four episodes of Dr. Kildare. Her last appearance on Broadway was as Birdie Hubbard in a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1967) starring Anne Bancroft as Regina Giddens.
For her film role as Mrs. Maudsley in The Go-Between (1970), Leighton won the British BAFTA Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. She received a BAFTA nomination for Best British Actress for her role as Valerie Carrington in Carrington V.C. (1955). She received a Hollywood Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Go-Between.
- The Winslow Boy (1948) (British Lion Films) ... Catherine Winslow
- Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) (London Film Productions) ... Flora MacDonald
- Under Capricorn (1949) (Warner Bros.) ... Milly
- The Astonished Heart (1950) (General Film Distributors) ... Leonora Vail
- The Elusive Pimpernel (1950) (British Lion Films) ... Marguerite Blakeney
- Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951) (MGM) ... Sgt. Helen Smith
- The Tempest (1952)...Ariel
- Home at Seven (1952) (British Lion Films) ... Janet Preston
- The Holly and the Ivy (1952) (London Film Productions) ... Margaret Gregory
- The Teckman Mystery (1954) (Associated Artists Productions) ... Helen Teckman
- The Good Die Young (1954) (United Artists) ... Eve Ravenscourt
- Carrington V.C. (1955) (Kingsley-International Pictures) ... Valerie Carrington
- The Constant Husband (1955) (British Lion Films) ... Miss Chesterman
- The Passionate Stranger (1957) (British Lion Films) ... Judith Wynter/Leonie
- The Sound and the Fury (1959) (20th Century Fox) ... Caddy Compson
- Waltz of the Toreadors (1962) (The Rank Organisation Film Productions) ... Emily Fitzjohn
- The Third Secret (1964) (20th Century Fox)
- The Best Man (1964) (United Artists) ... Alice Russell
- The Loved One (1965) (MGM) ... Mrs. Helen Kenton
- 7 Women (1966) (MGM) ... Agatha Andrews
- The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) (Warner Bros.) ... Constance, the Madwoman of Passy
- The Go-Between (1970) (EMI Distribution) ... Mrs. Maudsley
- Zee and Co. (1972) (Columbia) ... Gladys ... aka X, Y and Zee (USA)
- Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) (MGM-EMI) ... Lady Melbourne
- A Bequest to the Nation (1973) (Universal) ... Lady Frances Nelson
- From Beyond the Grave (1973) (Warner Bros.) ... Madame Orloff in segment The Elemental
- Galileo (1975) (The American Film Theatre) ... Elderly Court Lady
- Trial by Combat (1976) (Combat-Warner Bros.) ... Ma Gore
- Laugh With Me (1938) (BBC) ... Dorothy
- As You Like It (1953) (BBC) ... Rosalind
- All on her Own (1968) (BBC) ... Rosemary
- An Ideal Husband (1969) (BBC) ... Mrs. Cheveley
- Hamlet (1970) (NBC) ... Gertrude
- The Upper Crusts (1973) (series) (ITV) ... Lady Seacroft
- Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) (NBC) ... Francoise DuVal
- Great Expectations (1974) (NBC) ... Miss Havisham
- Space: 1999 (First Season, ep. "Collision Course") (1975) (ITC) ... Arra
- Obituary Variety, January 21, 1976, page 111.
- Margaret Leighton at the Internet Broadway Database
- Margaret Leighton at the Internet Movie Database