Glenda Jackson Biography

Actress (1936–)
Glenda Jackson is best known for her Academy Award winning roles in Women in Love and A Touch of Class.


Glenda Jackson was born May 9, 1936 in Birkenhead, England. Jackson had a successful film career after performing in theater, eventually winning two Academy Awards. Her portrayals gained her such credibility, she transitioned to politics and won a seat in the House of Commons.


Early Life

A two-time Academy Award winner, Glenda Jackson first made her name as an actress and later as a politician. She was born in Birkenhead, England, in 1936, to working-class parents. Her father was a bricklayer and her mother worked as a cleaner. After finishing her schooling at 16, Jackson worked at a drug store for two years. She started performing in amateur theater around this time.

At the age of 18, Jackson enrolled at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She made her stage debut in 1957. A few years later, Jackson made her first film appearance—a small part in This Sporting Life (1963) starring Richard Harris. She had a career breakthrough the following year with the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (later shorted to Marat/Sade). She played one of the inmates in the play, a role she reprised on Broadway in 1965 and in the 1967 film Marat/Sade.

Most Famous Roles

While not considered a great beauty by most standards, Jackson has exuded certain kind of sex appeal in many of her films. She starred in the Ken Russell-directed adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence novel Women in Love. For the film, Jackson won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She then played the sexually demanding wife of composer Tchaikovsky (Peter Chamberlain) in 1970's The Music Lovers. In Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971), Jackson gave a fine performance as a woman engaged in an odd love triangle.

Jackson is also capable of imbuing her characters with gravitas and regality. In 1971, she played England's Queen Elizabeth I twice—in the television miniseries Elizabeth R. and the film Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave. The television miniseries was a big success in the United States and helped introduce Jackson to American audiences. She won two Emmy Awards for her royal performance.

In 1973, Jackson won her second Academy Award for Best Actress for the romantic comedy A Touch of Class with George Segal. She took on one of drama's most famous characters, Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler in the 1976 film adaptation Hedda. Around this time, Jackson played one of Shakespeare's leading female roles in Antony and Cleopatra on the stage in England and on Broadway. She earned her own title in 1978 when she was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

One of Jackson's most significant later roles was the 1981 television movie The Patricia Neal Story. She also gave a brilliant performance as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth on Broadway in the late 1980s. By this time, however, Jackson had begun to think about a life after acting.

Political Career

After an earlier attempt, Jackson won election to England's House of Commons in 1992, serving as the Member of Parliament, or MP, for Hampstead and Highgate. A longtime Labour Party member, she resigned her position in 1999 in an effort to secure her party's nomination for the mayor of London. Jackson was unsuccessful in her bid for mayor and returned to her parliamentary office.

From 2000 to 2004, Jackson also served on the Greater London Assembly advisory cabinet on homelessness. She has been an outspoken critic on many issues, including Britain's involvement in the Iraq War. In 2010, Jackson's distinct was redesigned and she won the MP spot for the newly created Hampstead and Kilburn distinct.

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