Joan Ann Olivier, Lady Olivier, DBE (née Plowright; born 28 October 1929), commonly known as Dame Joan Plowright, is a retired English actress whose career has spanned over six decades. She has won two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy and two BAFTA Awards. She is also one of only four actresses to have won two Golden Globes in the same year.
The Right Honourable
Lady Olivier, DBE
(Dame Joan Plowright)
Joan Ann Plowright
28 October 1929
(m. 1953; div. 1960)
(m. 1961; died 1989)
Plowright was born in Brigg, Lincolnshire, the daughter of Daisy Margaret (née Burton) and William Ernest Plowright, who was a journalist and newspaper editor. She attended Scunthorpe Grammar School and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in London.
Plowright made her stage debut at Croydon in 1948 and her London debut in 1954. In 1956 she joined the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and was cast as Margery Pinchwife in The Country Wife. She appeared with George Devine in the Eugène Ionesco play The Chairs, Shaw's Major Barbara and Saint Joan.
In 1957, she co-starred with Laurence Olivier in the original London production of John Osborne's The Entertainer, taking over the role of Jean Rice from Dorothy Tutin when the play transferred from the Royal Court to the Palace Theatre. She continued to appear on stage and in films such as The Entertainer (1960). In 1961, she received a Tony Award for her role in A Taste of Honey on Broadway.
Through her marriage to Laurence Olivier, she became closely associated with his work at the National Theatre from 1963 onward. In the 1990s, she began to appear more regularly in films, including Enchanted April (1992), for which she won a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination, Dennis the Menace (1993), a cameo in Last Action Hero (also 1993) and Tea With Mussolini (1999). She was also the Nanny in 101 Dalmatians (1996). Among her television roles, she won another Golden Globe Award and earned an Emmy Award nomination for the HBO film Stalin in 1992 as the Soviet dictator's mother-in-law. In 1994, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.
In 2003, Plowright performed in the stage production Absolutely! (Perhaps) in London. She was appointed honorary president of the English Stage Company in March 2009, succeeding John Mortimer, who died in January 2009. She previously was vice-president of the company.
Plowright's eyesight declined steadily during the late 2000s and early 2010s due to macular degeneration. In 2014, she officially announced her retirement from acting because she had become completely blind.
Plowright was first married to Roger Gage, an actor, in September 1953. She divorced him, and in 1961, married Laurence Olivier after the end of his 20-year marriage with the actress Vivien Leigh. The couple had three children: Richard Kerr Olivier (born December 1961), Tamsin Agnes Margaret Olivier (born January 1963), and Julie-Kate Olivier (born July 1966). Both daughters are actresses. The couple remained married until Lord Olivier's death in 1989. Her brother, David Plowright (1930–2006), was an executive at Granada Television.
Upon her marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier, her formal title became Lady Olivier; however, she never used it in her professional career. Her husband was made a life peer in 1970 and so she became Baroness Olivier. Professionally, she is known as Dame Joan Plowright.
As of 2004 her full and official title, as the widow of a peer and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is The Right Honourable The Baroness Olivier DBE.
|1951||Sara Crewe||Winnie||4 episodes|
|1954||Sunday Night Theatre||Adriana||Episode: "The Comedy of Errors"|
|1955||Moby Dick—Rehearsed||A Young Actress/Pip||Uncompleted and lost Orson Welles film|
|1956||Moby Dick||Starbuck's wife||Uncredited|
|1957||Sword of Freedom||Lisa Giocondo||Episode: "The Woman in the Picture"|
|Time Without Pity||Agnes Cole|
|1959||The School for Scandal||Lady Teazle||TV drama|
|1960||The Entertainer||Jean Rice||Nominated—BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles|
|1969||ITV Saturday Night Theatre: Twelfth Night||Viola||UK videotaped TV drama|
|1970||ITV Playhouse||Lisa||Episode: "The Plastic People"|
|1973||The Merchant of Venice||Portia||UK Videotaped TV drama|
|1977||Equus||Dora Strang||Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role|
|1978||Daphne Laureola||Lady Pitts||UK Videotaped TV drama|
|Saturday, Sunday, Monday||Rosa||UK Videotaped TV drama|
|1980||The Diary of Anne Frank||Mrs. Frank||US Television film|
|1982||Brimstone & Treacle||Norma Bates|
|All for Love||Edith||Episode: "A Dedicated Man"|
|Britannia Hospital||Phyllis Grimshaw|
|1983||Wagner||Mrs. Taylor||Episode: "1.2"|
|1986||The Importance of Being Earnest||Lady Bracknell||UK videotaped TV drama|
|1987||Theatre Night||Meg Bowles||Episode: "The Birthday Party"|
|1988||Drowning by Numbers||Cissie Colpitts 1|
|1989||And a Nightingale Sang||Mam||Television film|
|1990||Avalon||Eva Krichinsky||Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|I Love You to Death||Nadja|
|1991||The House of Bernarda Alba||La Poncia||Television film|
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|Driving Miss Daisy||Daisy Werthan||Television film|
|Enchanted April||Mrs. Fisher||Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture|
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
|1993||Dennis the Menace||Mrs. Martha Wilson|
|Last Action Hero||Teacher|
|Screen Two||Mrs. Monro||Episode: "The Clothes in the Wardrobe"|
|1994||The Return of the Native||Mrs. Yeobright||Television film|
|A Pin for the Butterfly||Grandma|
|A Place for Annie||Dorothy||Television film|
|On Promised Land||Mrs. Appletree||Television film|
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|Widows' Peak'||Mrs. Doyle-Counihan|
|1995||The Scarlet Letter||Harriet Hibbons|
|A Pyromaniac's Love Story||Mrs. Linzer|
|Hotel Sorrento||Marge Morrisey|
|Surviving Picasso||Françoise's Grandmother|
|Mr. Wrong||Mrs. Crawford|
|Jane Eyre||Mrs. Fairfax|
|1997||The Assistant||Mrs. Ida Bober|
|1998–1999||Encore! Encore!||Marie Pinoni||12 episodes|
|1998||Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within||Jeanne Vertefeuille||Television film|
|This Could Be the Last Time||Rosemary||Television film|
|Dance with Me||Bea Johnson||Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture|
|1999||Tom's Midnight Garden||Mrs. Bartholomew|
|Tea with Mussolini||Mary Wallace|
|2000||Frankie & Hazel||Phoebe Harkness||Television film|
|2001||Bailey's Mistake||Aunt Angie||Television film|
|Back to the Secret Garden||Martha Sowerby|
|Scrooge and Marley||Narrator||Television film|
|2002||Global Heresy||Lady Foxley|
|Callas Forever||Sarah Keller|
|2003||Bringing Down the House||Virginia Arness|
|I am David||Sophie||Monaco Film Festival Award for Best Actress|
|2004||George and the Dragon||Mother Superior|
|2005||Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont||Mrs. Palfrey||Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|2006||Goose on the Loose||Beatrice Fairfield|
|Curious George||Ms. Plushbottom|
|2008||The Spiderwick Chronicles||Aunt Lucinda Spiderwick|
|2018||Nothing Like a Dame||Herself|
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- "Viewing Page 7 of Issue 57155". London-gazette.co.uk. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- Walker, Tim (13 May 2014). "Joan Plowright bows out to a standing ovation". Telegraph. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
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