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Rachel Kempson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trivia (14)

Overview (2)

Born in Dartmouth, Devon, England, UK
Died in Millbrook, New York, USA  (stroke)

Mini Bio (1)

Rachel Kempson, the matriarch of one of theatre and film's most famous acting dynasties, took rather a back seat to the attention placed on several of the others.

Born on May 28, 1910, in Dartmouth, Devon, England, to Beatrice Hamilton (Ashwell) and Eric William Edward Kempson, a headmaster, Rachel trained at RADA and made her professional stage debut at Stratford in 1933 playing Hero in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." She went on to grace other famed companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Stage Company and the Old Vic.

Marrying actor Michael Redgrave in 1935, she became Lady Redgrave when Sir Michael was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959. Their three children grew to become celebrated acting icons of their own: Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave. Over the years, the precedence of being a wife and mother strongly overruled her career ambitions. On stage she co-starred with Sir Michael in a number of plays including "Flowers of the Forest" (1935), "Love's Labour's Lost" (1936), "Storm in a Teacup" (1936), "The Wingless Victory" (1943), "Antony and Cleopatra" (as Octavia) (1953), "King Lear" (as Regan) (1953) and Samson Agonistes (1965).

Besides featured roles in such films as A Woman's Vengeance (1948), Tom Jones (1963), The Third Secret (1964), Curse of the Fly (1965) and The Jokers (1967), Rachel also appeared in movies alongside several different family members including her husband in Jeannie (1941), The Captive Heart (1946) and The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954); daughter Lynn in Tom Jones (1963), Georgy Girl (1966) and The Virgin Soldiers (1969) and both Vanessa and Corin in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).

In 1986, Lady Redgrave wrote her autobiography "Life Among the Redgraves" in which she detailed her loving but difficult marriage with Sir Michael who was bisexual and had occasional discreet affairs. Their marriage endured, however, until his death in 1985, four months before they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Today, the family's acting legacy has continued to expand into the next thriving generation. Grandchildren Natasha Richardson, Joely Richardson and Jemma Redgrave are all prominent actors.

Her later screen career was focused on prolific British TV series, TV movies and mini-series, including Jane Eyre (1970), Elizabeth R (1971), Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (1974), Love for Lydia (1977), Tales of the Unexpected (1979), The Jewel in the Crown (1984), The Black Tower (1985), Small World (1988) and Lorna Doone (1990). Her twilight films included Out of Africa (1985), Stealing Heaven (1988) and her final Déjà Vu (1997), the last being with Vanessa. Lady Redgrave died suddenly of a stroke at age 92 while staying at granddaughter Natasha's home in Millbrook, New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (3)

Spouse Michael Redgrave (20 July 1935 - 21 March 1985)  (his death)  (3 children)
Children Vanessa Redgrave
Corin Redgrave
Relatives Natasha Richardson (grandchild)

Trivia (14)

Was a great friend of actress Vivien Leigh.
She and her three children Vanessa Redgrave, Corin Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave all appeared in films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture: Rachel appeared in Tom Jones (1963) and Out of Africa (1985), Lynn also appeared in Tom Jones (1963) and Vanessa and Corin both appeared in A Man for All Seasons (1966).
She appeared in films with all three of her children: Vanessa Redgrave in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Déjà Vu (1997), Corin Redgrave in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Lynn Redgrave in Tom Jones (1963), Georgy Girl (1966) and The Virgin Soldiers (1969).
She played the mother of her daughter Vanessa Redgrave in both The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Déjà Vu (1997).
She had a close and enduring friendship with Dame Edith Evans, despite the fact that Evans had had a brief affair with her husband Michael Redgrave (who was twenty years Dame Edith's junior) soon after their marriage.
Daughter of Eric (1878-1948) and Beatrice (née Ashwell) Kempson (1884-1963).
Maternal granddaughter of Lawrence (1849-1906) and Henrietta (née Kingham) Ashwell (1850-1919).
Paternal granddaughter of Frederick (1838-1923) and Julia (née Jay) Kempson (1847-1916).
Her father was headmaster of the Royal Naval College , Dartmouth.
Her London debut was 8 November 1933 as Blanca in 'The Lady From Alfaqueque' at the Westminster Theatre.
She made her film debut in 1945 in 'The Captive Heart'.
She was at the Liverpool Repertory Theatre 1935/36.

See also

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