Leighton in 1959
26 February 1922|
Barnt Green, Worcestershire, UK
13 January 1976 (aged 53)|
Chichester, Sussex, UK
Max Reinhardt (m. 1947; div. 1955)|
Laurence Harvey (m. 1957; div. 1961)
Michael Wilding (m. 1964)
Margaret Leighton, CBE (26 February 1922 – 13 January 1976) was an English actress. Her film appearances included The Winslow Boy (1948), Under Capricorn (1949), Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), Carrington V.C. (1955) and The Best Man (1964). For The Go-Between (1971), she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Leighton began her career on stage in 1938, before joining the Old Vic and making her Broadway debut in 1946. A four-time Tony Award nominee, she twice won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play: for the original Broadway productions of Separate Tables (1957) and The Night of the Iguana (1962). She also won an Emmy Award for a 1970 television version of Hamlet.
Life and career
Born in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, Leighton made her stage debut as Dorothy in Laugh with Me (1938), which also was 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 of the Old Vic to the U.S., and the company 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 actress acted in Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949) and the crime/mystery Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951).
Leighton 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 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) and for Tchin-Tchin (1962). She portrayed the wife of an American presidential candidate in the 1964 film The Best Man. Her last appearance on Broadway was as Birdie Hubbard in a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1967).
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 final TV performance was in the first season of Space: 1999 where she played Queen Arra in the episode "Collision Course."
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 an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Go-Between.
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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 was awarded the CBE in 1974. Leighton died of multiple sclerosis in 1976, aged 53, in Chichester, Sussex.
- The Winslow Boy (1948) as Catherine Winslow
- Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) as Flora MacDonald
- Under Capricorn (1949) as Milly
- The Astonished Heart (1950) as Leonora Vail
- The Elusive Pimpernel (1950) as Marguerite Blakeney
- Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951) as Sgt. Helen Smith
- The Tempest (1952) as Ariel
- Home at Seven (1952) as Janet Preston
- The Holly and the Ivy (1952) as Margaret Gregory
- The Teckman Mystery (1954) as Helen Teckman
- The Good Die Young (1954) as Eve Ravenscourt
- Carrington V.C. (1955) as Valerie Carrington
- The Constant Husband (1955) as Miss Chesterman
- The Passionate Stranger (1957) as Judith Wynter/Leonie
- The Sound and the Fury (1959) as Caddy Compson
- Waltz of the Toreadors (1962) as Emily Fitzjohn
- The Third Secret (1964)
- The Best Man (1964) as Alice Russell
- The Loved One (1965) as Mrs. Helen Kenton
- 7 Women (1966) (MGM) as Agatha Andrews
- The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) as Constance, the Madwoman of Passy
- The Go-Between (1971) as Mrs. Maudsley
- Zee and Co.aka X, Y and Zee (1972) as Gladys
- Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) as Lady Melbourne
- A Bequest to the Nation (1973) as Lady Frances Nelson
- From Beyond the Grave (1974) as Madame Orloff in segment The Elemental
- Galileo (1975) as Elderly Court Lady
- Trial by Combat (1976) as Ma Gore
- Laugh with Me (1938) as Dorothy
- As You Like It (1953) as Rosalind
- ITV Play of the Week (1955) episode "A Month in the Country" as Natalya Petrovna
- Theatre Royal (1956) episode "The Triumphant" as Marion
- Suspicion (1957) episode "The Sparkle of Diamonds" as Miss Perry
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958) episode "Tea Time" as Iris Teleton
- Playhouse 90 (1959) (Series) (CBS) episode "The Second Man" as Miss Kerison
- DuPont Show of the Month (1959) episode "The Browning Version" as Millie Crocker-Harris
- ITV Play of the Week (1960) episode "Gaslight"
- Ben Casey (1964) episode "August Is the Month Before Christmas" as Leila Farr
- Burke's Law (1964) episode "Who Killed Everybody?" as Connie Hanson
- Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1965) episode "Where The Woodbine Twineth" as Nell Snyder
- Dr. Kildare (1965) 4 episodes as Chris Becker
- Dr. Kildare (1965) 1 episode as Paula Winfield
- The F.B.I. (1966) episode "The Chameleon" as Amy Hunter
- The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (1966) episode "The Lethal Eagle Affair" as Gita Volander
- All on Her Own (1968) as Rosemary
- An Ideal Husband (1969) as Mrs. Cheveley
- Hamlet (1970) as Gertrude
- The Upper Crusts (1973) as Lady Seacroft
- Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) as Francoise DuVal
- Great Expectations (1974) as Miss Havisham
- Space: 1999 (1975) episode "Collision Course" as Arra
Awards and nominations
|1955||BAFTA Award for Best British Actress||Carrington V.C.||Nominated|
|1957||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play||Separate Tables||Won|
|1960||Much Ado About Nothing||Nominated|
|1962||The Night of the Iguana||Won|
|1966||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance in a Drama||Dr. Kildare||Nominated|
|1971||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Hamlet||Won|
|1972||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress||The Go-Between||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Won|
- Obituary Variety, 21 January 1976, page 111.