Rita Tushingham

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Rita Tushingham
Rita Tushingham crop.jpg
Born (1942-03-14) 14 March 1942 (age 73)
Garston, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Actress

Rita Tushingham (born 14 March 1942) is an English actress best known for her starring roles in 1960s films including A Taste of Honey, The Leather Boys, The Knack …and How to Get It, Doctor Zhivago, and Smashing Time.

Early life[edit]

Tushingham was born in Liverpool, Lancashire where her father was a grocer who ran three shops[1] and she grew up in the Hunt's Cross area. She attended the Heatherlea school in Allerton, the La Sagesse convent school in Grassendale and then learnt shorthand and typing at secretarial school. She wanted to be an actress from an early age and trained at the Shelagh Elliott-Clarke school before working backstage as an assistant stage manager at the Liverpool Playhouse.[2]


Her screen debut was in A Taste of Honey (1961). Other performances included Girl with Green Eyes (1963), The Leather Boys (1964),The Knack …and How to Get It (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Trap (1966), Smashing Time (1967), The Bed Sitting Room (1969), and The 'Human' Factor starring George Kennedy and John Mills (1975). She also co-starred as Margaret Sheen in the TV film Green Eyes (1977), the touching story of a Vietnam vet who returns to Southeast Asia after the war to find his son.

In the '60s, Tushingham performed several plays for the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre: The Changeling (1961), The Kitchen (1961), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962), Twelfth Night (production without décor, 1962) and The Knack (1962).

Tushingham has won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award, and was a member of the jury at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival in 1972[3] and at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival in 1990.[4]

Recent roles include the film Being Julia (2004), starring Annette Bening, and on television in "The Sittaford Mystery" (2006), an episode of Marple. She most recently appeared in Season 2 of the BBC 3 zombie drama In The Flesh as Mrs Lamb, broadcast in May 2014.


Clips from her performance in The Leather Boys appeared in the Smiths' music video for the single "Girlfriend in a Coma," in 1987. She is also mentioned in the Franz Ferdinand song "L. Wells", the Cleaners From Venus song "Illya Kuryakin Looked at Me" and the Television Personalities song "Favourite Films". In 1999, she was featured on This Is Your Life.

Personal life[edit]

Tushingham married photographer Terry Bicknell in 1962. They had two daughters, Dodonna and Aisha Bicknell. In 1981, she married Iraqi cinematographer Ousama Rawi, spending eight years in Canada with him. She now divides her time between Germany and London, with her partner since the mid-1990s, writer Hans-Heinrich Ziemann.

In April 2005, at the age of 33, her daughter Aisha Bicknell was diagnosed with breast cancer. Aisha recovered and later gave birth to a son. Tushingham became an activist for breast cancer health and support.[5]

Tushingham and Bicknell are prominent supporters of Cancer Research UK's Relay for Life and have given a number of interviews to raise breast cancer awareness.[6]

In July 2009, Tushingham received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for "outstanding and sustained contributions to the Performing Arts".

Selected filmography[edit]

London (2006)

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1966 nominated Best Actress (BAFTA) The Knack .... and How to Get It
  • 1966 nominated Best Actress (Golden Globe) The Knack .... and How to Get It
  • 1965 nominated Best Actress (BAFTA) Girl With Green Eyes
  • 1963 Most promising newcomer (Golden Globe) A Taste of Honey
  • 1962 Most promising newcomer (BAFTA) A Taste of Honey
  • 1962 Best Actress (Cannes Film Festival) A Taste of Honey


  1. ^ "Rita Tushingham at screenonline". screenonline.org. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rita Tushingham 1942". ritatushingham.com. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Berlinale 1972: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Berlinale: 1990 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Lambert, Victoria (21 August 2006). "The knack of coping with cancer". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Cancer Research UK: Celebrities supporting Cancer Research UK

External links[edit]