Sarah Miles

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Sarah Miles
Sarah Miles in 1980 (cropped).jpg
Miles in 1980
Born (1941-12-31) 31 December 1941 (age 81)
Ingatestone, Essex, England
Years active1961–2004
(m. 1967; div. 1976)

(m. 1988; died 1995)
RelativesChristopher Miles (brother)

Sarah Miles (born 31 December 1941) is an English actress. She is known for her roles in films The Servant (1963), Blowup (1966), Ryan's Daughter (1970), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), White Mischief (1987) and Hope and Glory (1987). For her performance in Ryan's Daughter, Miles received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Early life[edit]

Sarah Miles was born in Ingatestone, Essex, in south east England; her brother is film director, producer, and screenwriter Christopher Miles. Miles's parents were Clarice Vera Remnant and John Miles, of a family of engineers; her father's inability to secure a divorce from his first wife meant Miles and her siblings were illegitimate.[1] Through her maternal grandfather Francis Remnant, Miles claims to be the great-granddaughter of Prince Francis of Teck (1870–1910), thus a second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II.[2][3] Unable to speak until the age of nine because of a stammer[4] and dyslexia,[5] she attended Roedean and three other schools but was expelled from all of them.[4] Miles enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 15.


Early career[edit]

Shortly after finishing at RADA, Miles performed in "Manhunt" an episode of the TV series Deadline Midnight. Her film debut was as Shirley Taylor, a "husky wide-eyed nymphet"[6] in Term of Trial (1962), which featured Laurence Olivier; she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer.

Miles appeared in The Rehearsal (1963) for TV and then played Vera from Manchester in Joseph Losey's The Servant (1963), and "thrust sexual appetite into British films" according to David Thomson.[6]

Miles was in a short directed by her brother, The Six-Sided Triangle (1963) and a feature film directed by and starring Laurence Harvey, The Ceremony (1963). She did Ring Round the Moon (1964) for TV.

16 June 1965 saw the release of Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, a British period comedy film revolving around the craze of early aviation circa 1910. A pompous newspaper magnate (Robert Morley) is convinced, by his daughter (Miles) and her fiancé (James Fox), to organize an air race from London to Paris. A large sum of money is offered to the winner, hence it attracts a variety of characters who participate. The film received positive reviews, described as funny, colourful and clever, capturing the early enthusiasm for aviation.[7][8][9]

She was in Time Lost and Time Remembered (1966), directed by Desmond Davis.

In 1966, Miles gained another BAFTA nomination, this time as Best Actress. She had a "peripheral" part in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup.[6] At Antonioni's death in 2007, she referred to him as "a rogue and a tyrant and a brilliant man".[10]

Robert Bolt[edit]

After acting in several plays from 1966 to 1969, Miles was cast as Rosy in the leading title role of David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970). It was critically savaged, which discouraged Lean from making a film for some years, despite Miles's performance gaining her an Oscar nomination and an Oscar win for John Mills, and the film making a substantial profit. In Terence Pettigrew's biography of Trevor Howard, Miles describes the filming of Ryan's Daughter in Ireland in 1969. She recalls, "My main memory is of sitting on a hilltop in a caravan at six in the morning in the rain. There was no other actor or member of the crew around me. I would sit there getting mad, waiting for either the rain to stop or someone to arrive. Film-acting is so horrifically belittling."[11]

Miles would marry the film's screenwriter, Robert Bolt. He wrote and directed Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) starring Miles in the title role.[12] She then appeared in The Hireling (1973).

On 11 February 1973, while filming The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, aspiring screenwriter David Whiting, briefly one of her lovers,[13] was found dead in her motel room. She was acquitted of culpability in his death.[4][14] Miles later commented: "It went on for six months. Murder? Suicide? Murder! Suicide! Murder! Suicide! And, gradually, the truth came out, which I'm not going to speak about, but it certainly wasn't me. I had actually saved the man from three suicide attempts, so why would I want to murder him? I really can't imagine."[4] This led to the end of her first marriage to Bolt.


Miles starred in some TV movies: Great Expectations (1974), Requiem for a Nun (1975), and Dynasty (1976) as well as the Spanish film Bride to Be (1975).

Her performance as Anne Osborne in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976) was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Miles appeared in The Big Sleep (1978), Venom (1981), Walter and June (1983), Ordeal by Innocence (1984), Steaming (1985), Harem (1986) and Queenie (1987).

She received great acclaim for Hope and Glory. Interviewer Lynn Barber wrote of Miles' appearances in Hope and Glory, White Mischief, and her two earliest films that she "has that Vanessa Redgrave quality of seeming to have one skin fewer than normal people, so that the emotion comes over unmuffled and bare."[5]

Filming White Mischief on location in Kenya in 1987, Miles worked for the second and last time with Trevor Howard, who had a supporting role, but was by then seriously ill from alcoholism. The company wanted to fire him, but Miles was determined that Howard's distinguished film career would not end that way. In an interview with Terence Pettigrew for his biography of Howard, she describes how she gave an ultimatum to the executives, threatening to quit the production if they got rid of him. The gamble worked. Howard was kept on. It was his last major film; he died the following January.

Later career[edit]

She appeared in A Ghost in Monte Carlo (1990), The Touch (1992), Dandelion Dead (1994), Jurij (2001) and The Accidental Detective (2004).

She most recently (2008) appeared in Well at the Trafalgar Studios and the Apollo Theatre opposite Natalie Casey.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Miles was married twice to the British playwright Robert Bolt, 1967–1975 and 1988–1995.[15] He wrote and directed the film Lady Caroline Lamb, in which Miles played the eponymous heroine, and wrote Ryan's Daughter, as well. After his stroke, the couple reunited and Miles cared for him. "I would be dead without her", Bolt said in 1987, "When she's away, my life takes a nosedive. When she returns, my life soars."[16] The couple had a son.[17]

Miles stated, in 2007, that she had been drinking her own urine for 30 years for health reasons.[4]

In 2016, she reported that she had written a sequel to Ryan's Daughter.[18]


Year Film Role Notes
1962 Term of Trial Shirley Taylor Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
1963 The Servant Vera Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best British Actress
The Ceremony Catherine
1965 Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines Patricia Rawnsley
I Was Happy Here Cass Langdon Also known as Time Lost and Time Remembered
1966 Blowup Patricia
1970 Ryan's Daughter Rosy Ryan Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1972 Lady Caroline Lamb Lady Caroline Lamb
1973 The Hireling Lady Franklin
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing Catherine Crocker
1974 Great Expectations Estella
1975 Bride to Be Pepita Jiménez
1976 The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Anne Osborne Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1978 The Big Sleep Charlotte Sternwood
1981 Priest of Love Film Star
Venom Dr. Marion Stowe
1984 Ordeal by Innocence Mary Durant
1985 Steaming Sarah
1986 Harem (mini series) Lady Ashley [19]
1987 Hope and Glory Grace Rowan Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
White Mischief Alice de Janzé
1992 The Silent Touch [pl] Helena
2001 Days of Grace Sissi, La Madre
Jurij Martina, directrice clinica
2003 The Accidental Detective Smeralda Mazzi Tinghi


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Deadline Midnight Vi Vernon
1965 Sunday Night At The London Palladium Herself
1974 Great Expectations Estella
1976 Dynasty Jennifer Blackwood
1983 Walter and June June
1987 Queenie Lady Sybil
1990 A Ghost in Monte Carlo Emilie/Mme. Bluet
1994 Dandelion Dead Catherine Armstrong TV mini-series
2004 Poirot: The Hollow Lady Angkatell


Sarah Miles has written the following books:

  • A Right Royal Bastard. Pan Book. 1994. p. 368. ISBN 0-330-33142-6. 1st part of memoirs
  • Serves Me Right. Macmillan. 1994. p. 384. ISBN 0-333-60141-6. 2nd part of memoirs
  • Bolt from the Blue. Phoenix. 1997. p. 272. ISBN 0-7538-0229-5.
  • Beautiful Mourning. Orion. 1998. p. 352. ISBN 0-7528-0140-6.

Other work[edit]

In 1995, Miles was one of the readers of Edward Lear poems on a specially made spoken word audio CD bringing together a collection of Lear's nonsense songs.[20]


  1. ^ A Right Royal Bastard, Sarah Miles, Macmillan, 1993, p. 26
  2. ^ Sarah Miles, A Right Royal Bastard (1993), p. 20: "Clarice... the eldest child of Francis (Frank) Remnant, bastard son of Prince Francis of Teck, Queen Mary's brother. Sexy old Frank, as he was known, came over when Mary married Prince George, who became George V, and had a cuddle with the seamstress in the White Lodge at Richmond."
  3. ^ Rhoda Koenig, BOOK REVIEW Confessions of a wilful Pusscat: 'A Right Royal Bastard' dated Sunday 12 December 1993 at Retrieved 2 December 2011
  4. ^ a b c d e Barry Egan "I can't wait to get off this planet", The Independent (Ireland), 16 September 2007 archived 13 April 2010
  5. ^ a b Lynn Barber "Interview: Out to lunch with Sarah", The Independent, 12 July 1992
  6. ^ a b c David Thomson A New Biographical Dictionary of Film, London: Little Brown, 2002, p.594
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley (17 June 1965). "Movie Review: Those Magnificent Men In their Flying Machines (1965)". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines – Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes". Variety. 1 January 1965. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  9. ^ "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines – Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes: TV Guide Review". TV Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Blow-Up director Antonioni dies", BBC News, 31 July 2007
  11. ^ Terence Pettigrew Trevor Howard: A Personal Biography, London: Peter Owen, 2001, p.149
  12. ^ Movies: Bolt of lighting hits the screen... Martin, James. Chicago Tribune 4 Mar 1973: e10.
  13. ^ Christopher Hastings "Sarah Miles: Sex, Spooks and Steven Spielberg", The Sunday Telegraph, 7 September 2008
  14. ^ Ron Rosenbaum, "The Corpse as Big as the Ritz", The Secret Parts of Fortune (reprinted from Esquire)
  15. ^ Calder, John (23 February 1995). "Obituary: Robert Bolt". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  16. ^ John Stark "Sarah Miles Stars in An Incredible Story of Scandal and Love—and No, It's Not Her New Film, Hope and Glory, It's Her Life", People, 28:21, 23 November 1987, archive-url, archived 15 October 2017
  17. ^ "Case Study". Caroline Phillips. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  18. ^ O'Sullivan, Majella (19 March 2016). "'I was so innocent in the 60s, but Robert Mitchum corrupted me'". The Independent. Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Limited. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  19. ^ VHS Tape – 1992 R&G VIDEO L.P. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. ISBN 1-56068-536-0
  20. ^ Nonsense songs (Audiobook on CD, 1995) []. 4 January 2019. ISBN 9781898608219. Retrieved 16 March 2021.

External links[edit]