Margaret Leighton

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Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton 1959.JPG
Leighton in 1959.
Born (1922-02-26)26 February 1922
Barnt Green, Worcestershire, England, UK
Died 13 January 1976(1976-01-13) (aged 53)
Chichester, Sussex, England, UK
Cause of death Multiple sclerosis
Years active 1938-1976
Spouse(s) Max Reinhardt (1947-1955)
Laurence Harvey (1957-1961)
Michael Wilding (1964-1976) (her death)

Margaret Leighton, CBE (26 February 1922 – 13 January 1976) was an English actress.[1] 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[edit]

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) and in the popular The Winslow Boy (also 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 (1947-55); actor Laurence Harvey (1957-61); and actor Michael Wilding (1964-76, her death). 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.

Leighton portrayed the wife of an American presidential candidate (Henry Fonda) in Gore Vidal's The Best Man (1964).

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.

She was awarded the CBE in 1974. Margaret Leighton died of multiple sclerosis, aged 53, in Chichester, Sussex.





  1. ^ Obituary Variety, January 21, 1976, page 111.

External links[edit]