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Margaret Rutherford Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (5) | Salary (6)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 11 May 1892Balham, London, England, UK
Date of Death 22 May 1972Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, England, UK  (pneumonia)
Birth NameMargaret Taylor Rutherford
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

One is always at pains to locate a reference to Margaret Rutherford which does not characterize her as either jut-chinned, eccentric or both. But such, taken together, made for the charm of the woman. The combination of those most mundane of attributes has led some to suggest that she was made for the role of Agatha Christie's indomitable sleuth, Jane Marple, whom Rutherford portrayed in four films between 1961 and 1964 plus in an uncredited film cameo in The Alphabet Murders (1965). Rutherford began her acting career first as a student at London's Old Vic, debuting on stage in 1925. In 1933, she first appeared in the West End at the not-so-tender age of 41. She had her screen debut in 1936 portraying Miss Butterby in the Twickenham-Wardour production of Hideout in the Alps (1936).

In summer 1941, Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit opened on the London stage, with Coward himself directing. Appearing as Madame Arcati, the genuine psychic, was Rutherford, in a role in which Coward had earlier envisaged her and which he then especially shaped for her. She would carry her portrayal of Madame Arcati to the screen adaptation, David Lean's Blithe Spirit (1945). Not only would this become one of Rutherford's most memorable screen performances - with her bicycling about the Kentish countryside, cape fluttering behind her - but it would establish the model for portraying that pseudo-soothsayer forever thereafter. Despite Rutherford's appearances in more than 40 films, it is as Madame Arcati and Miss Jane Marple that she will best be remembered.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs <kinephile@aol.com>

Spouse (1)

Stringer Davis (26 May 1945 - 22 May 1972) (her death)

Trivia (17)

Agatha Christie dedicated her 1963 novel, The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side, to Rutherford in admiration.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1961 Queen's New Year Honours List and the DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1967 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to drama.
She started work on The Virgin and the Gypsy (1970), but illness caused her to be replaced by Fay Compton.
Her husband, Stringer Davis, portrayed Mr. Stringer in her four Miss Marple films and appeared with her in other films as well.
Her cousin is the well-known British politician Tony Benn.
She was the daughter of William Benn and Florence Nicholson. Just before her birth, her father murdered her grandfather. Her mother died when she was three years old and she was brought up by her aunt, Bessie Nicholson, in Wimbledon. When her aunt died a small inheritance allowed her to join the Old Vic in repertory.
She developed an interest in the theatre while at school. Her guardian aunt paid for her to have private acting lessons.
In 1925 (age 33), she was accepted as a student at the Old Vic Theatre, where she appeared in several small Shakespearean roles in productions starring Edith Evans, including The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure and The Taming of the Shrew.
The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts named an award after her.
She was interred at Saint James Churchyard in Gerrards Cross, Buckinhamshire, England with her husband, Stringer Davis. Her epitaph reads "A Blithe Spirit.".
Was the 58th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The V.I.P.s (1963) at The 36th Annual Academy Awards (1964) on April 13, 1964.
While filming "The Virgin and the Gypsy" in 1969 Rutherford, who was playing a deaf old grandmother, suffered frequent memory lapses causing filming delays. This resulted in her being replaced by Fay Compton. Unfortunately Rutherford never made another film.
A memorial service was held for her at St Paul's, Covent Garden (commonly known as the Actors' Church) on 21 July 1972. Among those in attendance were John Gielgud, Flora Robson, Ralph Richardson, Joyce Grenfell and Sybil Thorndike.
Robert Morley said in a 1967 TV interview, "Although the profession is crowded with very nice people, she's always too nice, too soft, too much the perfect auntie. She's frightfully funny. She's a marvelous woman... a good woman.".
Song of Norway (1970) was the last project for which Margaret Rutherford was contracted, but because of her poor memory at the time, she was replaced before shooting began.
She was offered the role of Miss La Creevy in The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens (1970). Margaret also rehearsed the part in her home in the presence of Ned Sherrin and Anthony Hopkins. Having been unwell for quite a while, she didn't manage to remember her lines though and was therefore replaced.
She collaborated with husband Stringer Davis on a total of 27 television and cinema productions.

Personal Quotes (5)

I hope I'm an individual. I suppose an eccentric is a super individual. Perhaps an eccentric is just off centre - ex-centric. But that contradicts a belief of mine that we've got to be centrifugal.
You never have a comedian who hasn't got a very deep strain of sadness within him or her. One thing is incidental on the other. Every great clown has been very near to tragedy.
[on co-starring with Alastair Sim in The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)] I found doing the film a bit tiresome. Film actors are, by nature, more complicated than stage actors. Mr Sim is a brilliant actor but most competitive.
[on her initial aversion to doing a Miss Marple movie] Murder, you see, is not the sort of thing I can get close to. I don't like these things that are just for thrills. I would far rather go without work. I do not like murder. It has an atmosphere I have always found uncongenial.
How I would love to have been a great traditional actress like Bernhardt, Duse, or Ellen Terry. There have been so many parts I yearned to play.

Salary (6)

The Importance of Being Earnest (1946) GUI60
Murder She Said (1961) £16,000
Murder at the Gallop (1963) £16,000
Murder Most Foul (1964) £16,000
Murder Ahoy (1964) £16,000
Chimes at Midnight (1965) £8,000

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