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Lynn Redgrave, who shot to international fame for her performance as a free-spirited bird in 1966’s “Georgy Girl,” died Sunday at her home in Connecticut after a battle with breast cancer. She was 67.
Redgrave’s turn as a chubby, childlike Londoner pursued by her father’s middle-aged boss (James Mason) won her an Oscar nomination for best actress and the New York Film Critics Circle Award. She garnered another Academy Award nomination for supporting actress in “Gods and Monsters” (1998), playing a testy housekeeper.
Redgrave hailed from a venerable theatrical family. She was the younger sister of actress Vanessa Redgrave and actor Corin Redgrave and the daughter of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.
Her death comes a year after her niece Natasha Richardson died from head injuries sustained in a skiing accident and just a month after the death of Corin. Redgrave was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2002, had a mastectomy in January 2003 and underwent chemotherapy.
Tall and imposing but fueled by a rambunctious comic spirit, Redgrave perhaps was best known to U.S. audiences for her turn as a hospital administrator romantically involved with surgeon Wayne Rogers in the CBS series “House Calls” (1979-81). Redgrave was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actress for her work in the comedy series, and she also received a daytime nom nod for “CBS Afternoon Playhouse: The Shooting.”
She co-starred with her sister in the TV remake of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1991).
In her homeland, Redgrave received four BAFTA nominations: Best British actress for “Georgy Girl,” supporting actress for “Shine” (1996) and “Gods and Monsters” and most promising newcomer for “Girl With Green Eyes” (1964).
She won a Golden Globe for best actress — musical/comedy for “Georgy” and best supporting actress for “Gods and Monsters.” In addition, she was nominated for Globes on two other occasions, for “Georgy” and “House Calls.”
Redgrave was nominated for SAG Awards for “Shine” and “Gods and Monsters” and won an Independent Spirit Award for “Gods and Monsters.”
Redgrave’s stage work was the bedrock of her career. She delivered the acclaimed one-woman show “Shakespeare for my Father” — a play she wrote about understanding her father, who died in 1985 — and garnered a Tony nom and a Drama Desk trophy for the production’s 1993 opening run in New York.
Redgrave won numerous awards for a triumphant tour of “Shakespeare for My Father”: The Outer Critics Circle Award, Chicago’s 1994 Joseph Jefferson and Sarah Siddons Awards, Connecticut’s Critics’ Circle Award and Boston’s Elliot Norton Award.
In addition to her Tony nom for “Shakespeare,” Redgrave received an earlier nomination for “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.”
She was named president of the Players in 1994, founded by Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth in 1888. Redgrave also performed as a member of Tony Randall’s Actors Theatre, playing in such diverse productions as the farcical “A Little Hotel on the Side” and “The Master Builder.”
In a similar popular movie vein, she played in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask” (1972) and “The Happy Hooker” (1975), based on the notorious Xaviera Hollander best-seller.
Redgrave’s other film credits included “Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2009), “The Jane Austen Book Club” (2007), “Kinsey” (2004), “Venus and Mars” (2001), “Touched” (1999), “Midnight” (1989) and “Every Little Crook and Nanny” (1972).
Redgrave was born March 8, 1943, and often was raised by nannies while her parents were on tour or in Hollywood. Her childhood interests centered on horses, and she won many competitive events for show jumping.
Stimulated by her family, she enrolled as a teen at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. On the side, she signed up for cooking classes at the Polytechnic College. She made her professional acting debut in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Royal Court Theatre, then toured England in “Billy Liar.” During that period, she made her first movie appearance with a bit part in the Oscar-winning “Tom Jones” (1963).
Also in 1963, Redgrave joined the English National Theatre Company under its director, Laurence Olivier, appearing in “The Recruiting Officer” and “Hay Fever.” She performed with Olivier in “Love” in West Berlin and Moscow.
Redgrave stayed with the National Theatre for three years, performing with an array of talent: Tom Courtenay, Albert Finney, Noel Coward, Franco Zeffirelli and Edith Evans, among others.
Redgrave made her Broadway debut in 1967 in “Black Comedy” with Michael Crawford and Geraldine Page. Sidney Lumet saw her performance and cast her in his thriller “The Deadly Affair” (1966).
She married actor/photographer John Clark in 1967. The couple toured the U.S. in “California Suite,” “The Two of Us,” “Saint Joan” and “Thursday’s Girls,” all directed by Clark.
She guest-starred on many TV shows, including “Murder, She Wrote,” “Steve Martin’s Best Show Ever,” “Kojak,” ” The Fainthearted Feminist,” “Fantasy Island” and “Desperate Housewives,” among many others. Last year, she appeared in episodes of “Ugly Betty” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
On Southern California stages, Redgrave starred with Frank Langella in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” at the Ahmanson Theatre. She played Madam Ranyevskaya in “The Cherry Orchard” at the La Jolla Playhouse and starred with Stewart Granger, David Carradine and Ricardo Montalban in “Don Juan in Hell.”
In addition to Vanessa, survivors include children Benjamin, Kelly and Annabel. A private funeral with be held this week.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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