Joan Greenwood

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Joan Greenwood (4 March 1921 – 27 February 1987) was an English actress. Born in Chelsea, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her husky voice, coupled with her slow, precise elocution, was her trademark, and in 1995 she was ranked number 63 on Empire magazine's list of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history.


Life and career

Greenwood worked mainly on the stage, where she had a long career, appearing with Donald Wolfit's theatre company in the years following World War II.

Greenwood also appeared as Olga, alongside Spike Milligan in Frank Dunlop's production of the play Oblomov, based on the novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov. The play opened at London's Lyric Theatre on 6 October 1964. Greenwood was described as "a model of generosity and tolerance ... [t]he only person in the cast who could not be 'corpsed' by Milligan (although) he tried very hard. She looked beautiful, and played the part of Oblomov's unfortunate lady with total integrity. 'She never left the script', says Milligan with a guilty smile of something between irritation and admiration. 'I just couldn't make her crack up. All the rest of us did. She never lost her dignity for a moment'"[1]

Greenwood also made several memorable screen appearances, most notably as Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) and as Sibella in the black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). She also appeared in two other Ealing comedies, Whisky Galore! and The Man in the White Suit.

She had leading roles in Stage Struck (1958), the Jules Verne-based film Mysterious Island (1961), and Tom Jones (1963). Her last film was Little Dorrit, made the year of her death. She is also well-remembered for her performance as Lady Carlton, a quirky romance novelist and landlady to the main characters in the British sitcom Girls On Top.

In 1960 Greenwood appeared as the title character in a production of Hedda Gabler at The Oxford Playhouse.[2] Starring opposite her as Judge Brack was the actor André Morell. They fell in love and flew in secret to Jamaica, where they were married, remaining together until his death in 1978.[3] They had one child, Jason, a film actor who has appeared in films such as Mrs Brown (1997, as Lord Stanley), and Wilde (also 1997, as Ernest Dowson).[4]

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