Sir Michael Scudamore Redgrave (20th March, 1908 – 21st March, 1985)

I only took that role because I had a family to support- Sir Michael Redgrave on A Lady Vanishes

Tall, skinny and distinguished is how Sir Michael Redgrave has always been portrayed. He is considered one of the great British actors of the 20th century, along with Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

Born in Bristol in 1908 to the silent film actor Roy Redgrave, Sir Michael was always drawn to the stage. His first attempts came during his studies in Cambridge, Magdalene College, where he started in 1927.

It wasn't until 1934 that he tried acting professionally at the Liverpool Playhouse. There he met Rachel Kempson, whom he married in 1935. Together they have three children, Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, all of them actors.

Nobody will doubt that Sir Michael wanted to be on stage rather than in the movies, but since theatre pays less than film he started making movies in 1938. As a matter of fact he did a small part in a film in 1936, but uncredited.

In his stage acting career he moved to London in 1936 to join the Old Vic theatre. He then continued on to Queen's Theatre and Haymarket theatre, also in London. In 1948 he was in the USA and performed on Broadway. In 1951 he joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon where he stayed until 1959. He continued to play with the large British theatre companies until he finished his stage career at the National theatre in 1979. As a stage actor Sir Michael Redgrave will mainly be remembered as a formidable Shakepeare player, he played almost all major male roles, and a fantasic Uncle Vanya. As recognition for his importance for the theatre he was knighted with a C.B.E. in 1959, and was honoured with a performance aptly named "A Tribute to Michael Redgrave" at the Old Vic in 1985.

In most people's mind Sir Michael is probably remembered as film actor. It all started in 1938 when he got his first credited film role in Alfred Hitchcock's "A Lady Vanishes", and from then he started a long and successful career on the silver screen. Among his more notable screen performances are Kipps, The Way to the Stars, Dead of Night, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Quiet American, The Dam Busters, The Go-Between and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, although my favourite as a kid was The Heroes of Telemark. He also got the Cannes Award for The Browning Version and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Mourning Becomes Electra.

In spite of being a man who cared for and looked after his family he was bisexual and had several affairs, among others with Noel Coward. He was also into bondage, which made John Gielgud say "Ah, Sir Michael Redgrave, I'll be bound." as he approached Sir Michael after the latter just received his knighthood. In the mid 1960s his wife thought that he started to become a bit more forgetful, sent him to the doctor, who diagnosed him with Parkinson's disease. The Parkinson's disease gradually made it impossible for Sir Michael to learn new lines, and his last performance was in Simon Gray's Close of Play at the National Theatre in 1979.

In the year 2000 his widow Rachel and daughter Vanessa sold all his correspondence to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, London.

Notable stage performances


Notable TV guest appearances



Sources are from all over internet, but the filmography comes thanks to

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