Judi Dench (1934-) b. York, North Yorkshire, England.
Born in York, England. Dame Judi Dench is arguably Britain’s most respected and versatile actress with roles encompassing stage, screen, and television. After attending art school, she studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating she made her stage debut in 1957 as Ophelia in the Liverpool Old Vic’s production of Hamlet. A prolific stage career followed, after joining with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961 she spent many seasons touring, then latterly with the National Theatre. Dench made her film debut with a supporting role in The Third Secret (1964). In 1970 Judi was awarded the Order of the British Empire. The following year she married Michael Williams, an actor whom she’d met while with the RSC.
It was not until the 1980s that Judi began to make gain recognition with international film audiences. In 1986, she had a memorable turn as a meddlesome author Miss Lavish in A Room with a View (1986). In 1988, she became Dame Judi Dench, honouring her contributions to stage and screen. After a supporting role as Mistress Quickly in Kenneth Branagh‘s acclaimed adaptation of Henry V (1989), Dench exchanged the past for the present with her thoroughly modern feminist role as M in GoldenEye (1995), the first during Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as James Bond. In 1997 she earned further international recognition, as well as an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown (1997). The following year, Dench did win the Oscar, garnering Best Supporting Actress honours for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the acclaimed Shakespeare in Love (1999). Judi became a Dame of the British Empire in 1988.
Her supporting role in Chocolat (2000), earned Dench another Academy Award nomination. Despite a career in the theatre spanning more than 40 years, she’s made numerous television appearances including the BBC’s hugely popular comedy series As Time Goes By with Geoffrey Palmer, and A Fine Romance, in which she starred opposite her husband. Judi’s husband of almost 30 years, Michael, sadly died of lung cancer on January 11, 2001. During the same year she turned in two more acclaimed performances: a supporting role opposite Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News, and a latter day portrayal of celebrated author Iris Murdoch in the biopic Iris (2002). Dench headlined director Stephen Frears comedy-drama about the Windmill Theatre during WWII, Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), and she was rewarded for her performance with a Best Actress nomination from SAG the Academy Awards. Better still was her performance as an unbalanced and treacherous school teacher in Richard Eyre’s adaptation of the Zoe Heller novel, Notes on a Scandal (2006), where she once again earned an Academy Award nomination.