Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Anna Massey Passes On

Anna Massey, who appeared in films from Peeping Tom (1960) to The Oxford Murders (2008), passed on 3 July 2011 at the age of 73. The cause was cancer.

Ann Massey was born on 11 August 1937 in Thakeham, West Sussex. Her father was famous, Canadian actor Raymond Massey. Her mother was British actress  Adrianne Allen. In 1955 Miss Massey made her début on stage at the Theatre Royal in Brighton in The Reluctant Débutante. She would make her début on the West End in the same role in the same play and received immediate acclaim. When she appeared on the play on Broadway in 1956, she received a Tony nomination.

Anna Massey made her film début in Gideon's Day in 1958. It was in 1960 that she would appear in what is now one of her most famous roles, as the innocent and naive Helen in Michael Powell's classic Peeping Tom (1960).  Sadly, although she gave one of the best performances of her career, Miss Massey would not receive any acclaim for her role in the film, which proved to be one of the most controversial in the history of British film. Her next film would not be until 1963, when she appeared in Le voyage à Biarritz (1963). For the remainder of the Sixties she appeared in such films as Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), De Sade (1969) and The Looking Glass War (1969). On television she was the storyteller on Jackanory and appeared on such shows as Armchair Theatre and W. Somerset Maugham.

The Seventies saw Anna Massey's career move primarily towards television. She was a regular on The Pallisers, Couples, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. She guest starred on the shows Love Story, Dead of Night, Hazell, and Tales of the Unexpected. With regards to film, she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), as well as such films as The Vault of Horror (1973), A Doll's House (1973), A Little Romance (1979), and Sweet William (1980).  In teh Eighties Miss Massey was a regular on the mini-series Mansfield Park and Around the World in 80 Days. She appeared in several telefilms, including Anna Karenina, The Christmas Tree, and Season's Greetings. She appeared in such films as Five Days One Summer (1982), The Little Drummer Girl (1984), Another Country (1984), The Chain (1984), Sacred Hearts (1985), and Mountains of the Moon (1990).

In the Nineties Anna Massey appeared in such films as Impromptu (1991), Emily's Ghost (1992), Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets (1995), Driftwood (1997),  and Captain Jack (1999). She was a regular on the series The Diamond Brothers and Nice Day at the Office. She appeared on the shows Inspector Morse, Chillers, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and A Skirt Through History. In the Naughts she in the shows Nash Bridges, Dark Blue World, Inspector Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Poirot, and Moving On. She appeared in the movies Dark Blue World (2001), The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), Possession (2002), The Machinist (2004), Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005), and The Oxford Murders (2008).

Many actors have said "Acting is in my blood," but in the case of Anna Massey this was literally true. Her parents were both actors and her brother Daniel went into acting as well. Whether Miss Massey inherited her talent or came by some other way, she exhibited a great deal of talent early in her career. After all, Peeping Tom was only her second film, yet in it she gave an impressive performance of which more experienced actresses may not have been capable. What is more, Miss Massey was capable of playing a wide variety of roles. She played a barmaid in Frenzy, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the television mini-series Pinochet in Suburbia, and the comedic nanny Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, and did each role very well. Few actresses possessed the depth and breadth of talent which Anna Massey was able to bring to roles.

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