Dec. 28th, 1934
Ilford, Essex, England, UK
Guest TV Roles
Herself - Actress (segment "Dame Maggie")
Professor Minerva McGonagall
Dame Margaret Natalie "Maggie" Smith, DBE (born December 28, 1934) is a British film, stage and television actress. She made her stage debut in 1952 and has had an extensive, varied career in stage, film and television spanning over sixty years. Smith has appeared in over 50 films and is one of Britain's most recognisable actresses.
Smith was born in Ilford, Essex, England; she moved to Oxford when she was four. She is the daughter of Margaret Smith (née Hutton), a Glasgow-born secretary, and Nathaniel Smith, a Newcastle upon Tyne-born public health pathologist who worked at Oxford University. As a child, Smith's parents used to tell her the romantic story of how they had met on the train from Glasgow to London via Newcastle. She has older twin brothers, Alistair and Ian, who went to architecture school. Smith studied at Oxford High School until age 16 when she left to study acting at the Oxford Playhouse.
Smith has been married twice; first with actor 'Robert Stephens' and then with playwright 'Beverley Cross'. Her marriage with Stephens ended in 1974 on divorce and the marriage between her and Cross was finished when he died on March 20, 1998. With Stephens Smith has two sons, Chris and Toby, who are also actors.
Smith's career began at the Oxford Playhouse in the 50s. She made her film debut in 1956 as one of the party guests in a movie called Child in the House (1956). After that she has been acting with the most prominent actors and actresses in the world in over sixty films and TV-series, which include Othello (1965) with 'Laurence Olivier', The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), California Suite (1978) with 'Michael Caine' and 'Jane Fonda', A Room with a View (1985), Richard III (1995) with 'Ian McKellen' and 'Jim Broadbent', Franco Zeffirelli's Tea with Mussolini (1999) with 'Judi Dench', 'Joan Plowright' and 'Cher' and Gosford Park (2001) with 'Kristin Scott Thomas' and 'Clive Owen', directed by 'Robert Altman'. Maggie Smith has also been nominated for an Oscar six times and won twice, for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and California Suite (1978).
In January 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves disease and has been undergoing treatments of radiotherapy and surgery on the eyes. In 2007, the Sunday Telegraph's Mandrake diary disclosed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was subsequently reported to have made a full recovery.
Smith has also appeared in a number of widely popular films, including Clash of the Titans, Hook, both Sister Act films, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the highly successful Harry Potter film series. She currently stars in the critically acclaimed drama Downton Abbey as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, for which she has won a Golden Globe and two consecutive Emmy awards.
Smith has also been involved in charity work. In September 2011, she offered her support for raising the $4.6 million needed to rebuild the Court Theatre in New Zealand after the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. In July 2012, she became a patron of the International Glaucoma Association, hoping to support the organisation and raise the profile of glaucoma. On 27 November 2012, Smith contributed a unique piece of art – a drawing of her own hand – to the 2012 Celebrity Paw Auction, in order to raise funds for Cats Protection.
- Has played fictional fascists twice: first Jean Brodie in _The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)_ (qv) and then Lady Hester Random in _Tea with Mussolini (1999)_ (qv).
- While filming _Death on the Nile (1978)_ (qv), aboard ship, no one was allowed his or her own dressing room, so she shared a dressing room with 'Bette Davis' (qv) & 'Angela Lansbury' (qv).
- Created an honorary D.Litt of the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge in 1971 and 1995 respectively.
- At Oscars in 2002 'Whoopi Goldberg' (qv) introduced her, 'Will Smith (I)' (qv) and 'Jada Pinkett Smith' (qv) as "The Smith Family".
- Had to change her stage name to "Maggie Smith" as there already was an actress named "Margaret Smith" at the time she started in the profession.
- Appeared with Olivier in "Rhinoceros" in the English Stage Company's 1960 London production. Olivier pronounced her acting "Marvelous."
- Appointed a CBE in 1970 and a DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1990.
- She ranked tenth in the 2001 Orange Film Survey of greatest British film actresses.