Virginia A. McKenna OBE (born 7 June 1931) is a British stage and screen actress, author and wildlife campaigner.
Early career 
Born in London, McKenna trained there at the Central School of Speech and Drama then worked on stage in London's West End theatres before making her film debut in 1952. She continued to appear in both films and on stage and in 1954–55 was a member of the Old Vic theatre company. She was married for a few months in 1954 to bisexual actor Denholm Elliott, whom she met on the set of The Cruel Sea. Their marriage ended due to his affairs with other men. Her second husband was actor Bill Travers with whom she had four children and to whom she was married until his death in 1994.
In 1956, McKenna won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film, A Town Like Alice and two years later was nominated for Best Actress again for her role as the World War II SOE agent Violette Szabo, in 1958's Carve Her Name with Pride.
However, McKenna is best remembered for her 1966 role as Joy Adamson in the true-life film Born Free for which she received a nomination for a Golden Globe. Bill Travers, her real life husband, co-starred with her, portraying conservationist George Adamson, and the experience led them to become active supporters for wild animal rights and the protection of their natural habitat. McKenna appeared in An Elephant Called Slowly, a travelogue of what it was like years ago in Kenya. The film features her close friend conservationist George Adamson and also elephants Eleanor (brought up by conservationst Daphne Sheldrick) and young Pole Pole. The subsequent premature death of Pole Pole in London Zoo was to lead to McKenna and her husband launching the Zoo Check Campaign in 1984 and to their establishing the "Born Free Foundation" in 1991.
On the stage, in 1979 she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a British musical for her performance opposite Yul Brynner in The King and I. Over the years she appeared in more films but also was very active with television roles and on stage where she continues to make occasional appearances.
McKenna has also been responsible for helping create and furnish the Gavin Maxwell museum on Eilean Bàn, the last island home of Maxwell, an author and naturalist, most famous for his book Ring of Bright Water, on which the film of the same name was based.
Other interests 
For her services to wildlife and to the arts, in 2004 McKenna was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire. In March 2009 Virginia McKenna's autobiography, The Life in My Years, was published by Oberon Books.
In 1975 she released an album of twelve songs called Two Faces of Love which included two of her own compositions and a sung version of the poem The Love That I Have from the film Carve Her Name with Pride. The record was released on the Gold Star label with two line drawings of McKenna by her sister-in-law Linden Travers. On its reissue on the Rim label in 1979 the album instead had a photographic picture.
Her audiobook work includes The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. and narration of "The Lonely Doll" by Dare Wright.
Non-fiction films 
- The Lions are Free is the real life continuation of Born Free. This film tells about what happened to the lions that were in the film Born Free. Bill Travers, who had starred with McKenna, wrote, produced and directed the film, along with James Hill, the director of Born Free. Travers and Hill went to a remote area in Kenya to visit with the noted conservationist George Adamson. The film has amazing scenes of George and Bill interacting with lions who are living free.
- Christian:The Lion At World's End is a documentary (with a reenaction sequence at the beginning) about the now-famous lion's journey from a London store to George Adamson's reserve in Kenya. Virginia McKenna and her husband, Bill Travers, had a chance meeting with Christian and his owners Ace Bourke and John Rendall. Through McKenna and Travers' connection with George Adamson, the lion was successfully brought to Africa and taught how to fend for himself.
- Two Faces of Love LP, Gold Star 15-030, 1975. Reissued as Rim RIM 5001, 1979.
- The Love That I Have (Violette)/Homage to Renoir 45 rpm single, Sovereign SOV 125, 1974.
- The Love That I Have/Send In the Clowns 45 rpm single, RIM 002, 1979.
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