Julia McKenzie in 2006
Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie
17 February 1941
|Occupation||Actress, director, presenter, singer|
(m. 1971; died 2018)
Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie, CBE (born 17 February 1941) is an English actress, singer, presenter, and theatre director widely regarded as one of the finest and most distinguished artists of the past fifty years. Also notable as one of the few British performers to merit the title of "Triple Threat", she has premièred leading roles written by both Sir Alan Ayckbourn and Stephen Sondheim. On television, she is known for her BAFTA Award nominated role as Hester Fields in the sitcom Fresh Fields (1984–86) and its sequel French Fields (1989–91), and as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's Marple (2008–13).
McKenzie has also starred in numerous musicals, receiving a 1977 Tony Award nomination for her work in the Broadway revue, Side by Side by Sondheim. A six-time Olivier Award nominee, she has twice won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical; for the 1982 revival of Guys and Dolls and the 1993 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She also starred in the original London productions of the Sondheim musicals Follies (1987) and Into the Woods (1990).
McKenzie was born on 17 February 1941, in Enfield, Middlesex, England, the daughter of Kathleen Rowe and Albion McKenzie. She attended Tottenham County School, sometimes known as Tottenham County Grammar School, a co-educational grammar school.
McKenzie's early West End musical credits include Maggie May (1966), Mame (1969), and Company (1971). She appeared in the West End revue Side by Side by Sondheim in 1976, and made her Broadway debut when the show transferred to New York in 1977 receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also received a Drama Desk Award nomination. For her role as Miss Adelaide in the 1982 West End revival of Guys and Dolls, she won the first of two Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical.
For her role in the 1986 West End production of the Alan Ayckbourn play Woman in Mind, McKenzie won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress. She went on to appear in the original West End productions of two Sondheim musicals, playing Sally in Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1987, and the Witch in Into the Woods at the Phoenix Theatre in 1990. She continued her association with Stephen Sondheim when she starred as Mrs. Lovett in the 1993 London revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The role won her a second Olivier Award in 1994.
On television, McKenzie co-starred with Irene Handl in the sitcom Maggie and Her (1978–79), and with Gareth Hunt in That Beryl Marston...! (1981). She went on to greater popularity with British viewers as Hester in the 1980s sitcom Fresh Fields opposite Anton Rodgers, and its 1990s sequel French Fields, for which she was voted TV Times Favourite Female Comedy Performance for five consecutive years. The role also earned her a 1985 BAFTA nomination for Best Entertainment Performance. She appeared as Mrs Forthby in Blott on the Landscape and as a villager involved in a series of murders in an episode of Midsomer Murders. Film credits include Hotel du Lac, Shirley Valentine, Bright Young Things and These Foolish Things. She made several appearances in BBC TV's long running variety show, The Good Old Days.
In 2007 she was reunited with Anton Rodgers (again as a husband and wife team) in the ITV comedy You Can Choose Your Friends. In 2007 she co-starred with Michael Gambon and Judi Dench in the BBC1 costume drama series Cranford, playing Mrs. Forrester, a military widow of slender means, very attached to her cow Bessie.
In 2008 she was announced as the replacement for Geraldine McEwan as ITV's Miss Marple. She noted: "It’s difficult because Agatha Christie wrote her in two ways ... First, very much what Geraldine McEwan played: a slight, rather Victorian creature. Then, a little sturdier and tweedier. I chose the latter. A lot of people say they don’t like the tweedier version. But they’re both genuine." Also, she said: "Just about everybody in the world knows about Miss Marple and has an opinion of what she should be like, so I’m under no illusions about the size of the task ahead." McKenzie's first series of Marple comprised A Pocket Full of Rye, Murder is Easy, They Do It with Mirrors and Why Didn't They Ask Evans?. The second series of the show, which aired in 2010, included The Pale Horse, The Secret of Chimneys, The Blue Geranium, and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. A sixth series, including adaptations of A Caribbean Mystery, Greenshaw's Folly and Endless Night, began filming in September 2012 and was broadcast in 2013.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony she played Her Majesty the Queen on board the helicopter in the short film Happy and Glorious. That year she also played the role of Betty Nicholas in the ITV television series The Town.
On 26 December 2013, McKenzie appeared as the title character in the film adaption of David Walliams' book Gangsta Granny. In 2015 McKenzie appeared as Shirley Mollison in the BBC mini series The Casual Vacancy.
She is a radio performer with a long list of credits, including Blithe Spirit, The Country Wife and A Room with a View. As a director she has staged Stepping Out, Peter Pan, Hey, Mr. Producer!, Steel Magnolias, Putting It Together and A Little Night Music.
McKenzie also lent her voice to several animated works for Martin Gates Productions including three films The Snow Queen, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Snow Queen's Revenge and the TV series Bimble's Bucket.
In 2018, McKenzie was cast as The Twelve in a Big Finish production The Eighth Doctor - Time War 2.
McKenzie is a critic of fox hunting and was among more than 20 high-profile people who signed a letter to Members of Parliament in 2015 to oppose Conservative prime minister David Cameron's plan to amend the Hunting Act 2004.
- (London debut) Maggie May, Adelphi Theatre, 1966
- Gloria, Mame, Drury Lane Theatre, London, 1969
- Girl in owl coat, Promises, Promises, Prince of Wales Theatre, London, 1970
- April, Company, Her Majesty's Theatre, London, 1971
- Cowardy Custard, Mermaid Theatre, London, 1973
- Cole, Mermaid Theatre, 1974
- Side by Side by Sondheim, Music Box Theatre, New York City (New York debut), 1977
- The Norman Conquests, 1978
- Ten Times Table, 1979
- Miriam Dervish, Outside Edge, Queen's Theatre, 1979
- Lily, On the Twentieth Century, Her Majesty's Theatre, 1980
- Maggie Hobson, Hobson's Choice, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London, 1981
- Anna Kopecka, Schweik in the Second World War, Olivier/National Theatre, London, 1982
- Miss Adelaide, Guys and Dolls, Olivier/National Theatre, 1982
- Susan, Woman in Mind, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 1986
- Sally Plummer, Follies, Shaftesbury Theatre, London, then West End Theatre, New York City, 1987
- Happy Birthday, Sir Larry, Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, 31 May 1987
- Witch, Into the Woods, Phoenix Theatre, London, 1990
- Mrs Lovett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, National Theatre, London, 1993
- Ruella, Communicating Doors, The Gielgud Theatre, London, 1995
- Kafka's Dick, Piccadilly Theatre, 1998
- Fuddy Meers, Arts Theatre, 2004
- The Philadelphia Story, Old Vic, 2005
- Stepping Out, Duke of York's Theatre, London, 1984
- Just So, Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Berkshire, England, 1989
- Steel Magnolias, Lyric Theatre, London, 1989
- Putting It Together, Manhattan Theatre Club Stage I, New York City, 1993
- Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh (stage direction, with Bob Avian), Lyceum Theatre, London, 1998
- A Little Night Music, Tokyo, 1999
|1975||Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done||Rose Maybud|
|1980||The Wildcats of St. Trinian's||Miss Dolly Dormancott|
|1986||Hotel du Lac|
|The Snow Queen's Revenge||The Snow Queen, Freda and Proprietor||voice|
|2003||Bright Young Things||Lottie Crump|
|2006||These Foolish Things||Miss Abernethy|
|Notes on a Scandal||Marjorie|
Awards and nominations
|1977||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Side by Side by Sondheim||Nominated|
|Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|1980||Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||On the Twentieth Century||Nominated|
|1982||Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Guys and Dolls||Won|
|1985||BAFTA TV Award for Best Entertainment Performance||Fresh Fields||Nominated|
|1986||Olivier Award for Best Actress||Woman in Mind||Nominated|
|Evening Standard Award for Best Actress||Won|
|1987||Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Follies||Nominated|
|1991||Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Into the Woods||Nominated|
|1994||Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street||Won|
- "New Year's Honours 2018" (PDF). Gov.uk. Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 17. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Patay, Ajesh (25 August 2009). "Julia McKenzie on Being the New Miss Marple: interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Julia McKenzie Biography (1941–)". Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler)."'Side by Side By Sondheim" Listings" Sondheimguide.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- "Olivier Winners 1982" Archived 24 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine olivierawards.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- "Olivier Winners 1994" Archived 24 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine olivierawards.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler). "'Follies', 1987 London Production" Sondheimguide.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler)."'Into the Woods', 1990 London production" Sondheimguide.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- Cast list from Happy Birthday, Sir Larry theatre programme, 31 May 1987
- "Julia McKenzie". Bigredbook.info. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
- "'Cranford' Characters, Mrs. Forrester" PBS.com, accessed 18 August 2011
- Hemley, Matthew."McKenzie to take on Miss Marple role for ITV" The Stage, 11 February 2008
- Hand, Lise (29 July 2012). "'Secret agent' in the coup that made the Queen a global TV comedy star". The Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Wilson, Frances The Town, ITV1, review at The Telegraph, 5 December 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013
- SilkSoundBooks "About Julia McKenzie" silksoundbooks.com, accessed 18 August 2011.
- "Queen actress Julia McKenzie returns to Buckingham Palace to collect CBE". Daily Mail. 18 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
- "SNP to vote against Tories on fox hunting ban in England and Wales". STV. 13 July 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- Entertainment & Arts team (29 December 2017). "In pictures: Entertainment stars recognised in New Year Honours". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- Cole 1974 production at sondheimguide.com
- Dalglish, Darren Kafka's Dick, Piccadilly Theatre (Review) at London Theatre Archive, 26 January 1999