‘Wonderful’ Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson died at 87

‘Wonderful’ Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson died at 87

Glenda Jackson has died at the age of 87 (Image: Shutterstock)

Glenda Jackson, the double-Oscar-winning actress and passionate politician, has died at the age of 87.

She was much-admired as an activist, politician but most of all a “genius” two-time Oscar-winning actress.

Tributes poured in for Glenda Jackson yesterday after it was announced the veteran star had “died peacefully” at the age of 87 following a brief illness.

Her agent Lionel Larner said: “Glenda Jackson, two-time Academy Award winning actress and politician died peacefully at her home in Blackheath London this morning after a brief illness with her family at her side.

“She recently completed filming The Great Escaper in which she co-starred with Michael Caine.”

Glenda Jackson was a passionate politician (Image: Shutterstock)

Born into a ‘very poor’ family in Birkenhead, then part of Cheshire, she forged a hugely successful career as a screen star who later went on to be a long-serving Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate.

She won the Oscar for best actress in 1970 for Women In Love opposite the late Oliver Reed and again three years later for A Touch Of Class – although she opted not to attend the ceremony on either occasion.

“All awards are very nice to have,” she told BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life last year. But they don’t make you any better.”

She also starred as Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC drama Elizabeth R and regularly featured on the Morecambe and Wise Show.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said: “This is extremely sad news, his thoughts will be with her friends and family at this time.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said her passing ‘leaves a space in our cultural and political life that can never be filled’.

Glenda as Mary Queen of Scots (Image: Shutterstock)

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, who took over Ms Jackson’s Hampstead and Kilburn seat after she stepped down, said: “Devastated to hear that my predecessor Glenda Jackson has died.

“A formidable politician, an amazing actress and a very supportive mentor to me. Hampstead and Kilburn will miss you Glenda.”

Ms Siddiq’s party colleague Chris Bryant, who was also Jackson’s biographer added: “Really saddened to hear that Glenda Jackson has died. She was a great actor and I loved campaigning for her in Hampstead and Highgate.”

American-British playwright Bonnie Greer said it was a ‘privilege to be old enough to have see[n] the utter revolution in acting she was.’ Calling Ms Jackson a ‘genius’, she said she portrayed ‘total truth’ and ‘flawless craft’, and pointed how she was one of the few stars to have won the ‘Triple Crown’ of acting – an Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award.

Fellow former MP Gyles Brandreth said: “A wonderful actress, a committed politician, a remarkable human being – we became MPs on the same day in 1992 and I treasure our unlikely friendship.

“She was such a gifted, caring & special person who came into the world to make a difference – and did. RIP the unique Glenda Jackson.”

But Ms Jackson was far from a typical star, shunning the pizzazz and more usual trappings of show-business.

Instead, in spite of her hugely successful career, which also included two Emmy Awards and a Tony, Ms Jackson said she never had any interest in the social and glamorous aspects of the industry.

And the double Oscar-winner gave up acting for politics more than a quarter of a century ago, before serving as a Labour MP for 23 years.

In 1992 she was elected as the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate and served as a junior transport minister from 1997 to 1999 during Sir Tony Blair’s government.

Ms Jackson stood down as an MP at the 2015 general election and then returned to acting – and had clearly lost none of her sparkle.

She subsequently won a Bafta for best actress in 2019 for her role in Elizabeth Is Missing, which followed the story of a woman suffering from dementia.

Oliver Reed with Glenda Jackson (Image: Shutterstock)

Ms Jackson had just finishing filming The Great Escaper alongside fellow double Oscar-winner Sir Michael Caine, who she had last acted with 48 years ago in The Romantic Englishwoman.

Their new film tells a story, inspired by true events, of a Second World War veteran who escaped his care home in Hove, East Sussex, to attend a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France.

The eldest of four daughters, Ms Jackson said she only started acting after she failed her school certificate, leaving her with no option but to start working at the age of 16.

After joining a friend at the YMCA amateur dramatics society while she was working at her local Boots store, she went on to study at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada).

After becoming a household name, she also famously played Egyptian queen Cleopatra in 1971 for an episode of The Morecambe & Wise Show with comedy duo Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

She married stage manager and fellow actor Roy Hodges in 1958, before divorcing in 1976. They had one son, Dan, now a newspaper columnist.

Glenda Jackson and her husband Roy Hodges (Image: PA)

In the final 15 years of her life, Ms Jackson lived in a basement flat beneath the home of her son Dan Hodges. She had her son with husband Roy Hodges, whom she married in 1958 after meeting him when they both worked at Butlin’s holiday camps. The pair divorced in 1976.

Sir Michael Caine said: “Glenda was one of our greatest movie actresses. It was a privilege to work with her on The Great Escaper recently, our second film together. It was as wonderful an experience this time as it was 50 years ago. I shall miss her.”

The film’s director, Oliver Parker, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Glenda’s passing. It was the privilege of a lifetime to work with her. She had such fierce intelligence, such passion, and fearlessness.

“It is hard to believe that it was less than a month ago that we screened the finished film for her and Michael – she was as feisty and vibrant as ever and we will treasure the memory of that emotional and happy day.”

Former Labour prime minister Sir Tony Blair has described Glenda Jackson as a “truly formidable woman who will be much missed. It was with great sadness I heard of Glenda’s death,” he said in a statement shared to Twitter.

“Glenda brought the same great passion to her political life as she did in her long and glorious acting career. A truly formidable woman who will be much missed. My sincere condolences to Dan and all who knew and loved her.”

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