Thursday, 5 February 2015

Godspeed Geraldine McEwan

Film, stage, and screen star Geraldine McEwan, who played both Jean Brodie and Miss Marple in television shows, died on June 30 2015 at the age of 82. She had been in hospital following a stroke.

Geraldine McEwan was born Geraldine McKeown on May 9 1932 in Old Windsor, Berkshire As a child she won a scholarship to Windsor County Girls' School. She was only fourteen years old when she made her stage debut in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Theatre Royal in Windsor. From 1949 to 1951 she was a part of the Windsor Repertory Company.

Geraldine McEwan made her debut on London's West End in 1951 in Who Goes There! at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made her film debut in There Was a Young Lady in 1953. Her television debut came the following year in a regular role on the series Crime on Our Hands. Later in the decade she guest starred on ITV Play of the Week. On stage she appeared in The Entertainer at the Palace Theatre in London, as well as in Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing in Stratford.

In the Sixties Geraldine McEwan appeared in the films No Kidding (1961) and The Dance of Death (1969). On television she appeared on the television shows Our of This World, Profiles in Courage, The Wednesday Play, and Jackanory. On stage she appeared in The School for Scandal at the Haymarket Theatre in London. It was in The School for Scandal that she made her Broadway debut in 1963. In 1964 she appeared on Broadway in the production The Private Ear and The Public Eye. She also performed in Loot at the Wimbledon Theatre, and she was part of the National Theatre Company for five years. As part of the the National Theatre Company she appeared in such productions as Dance of DeathLove for Love, and  A Flea in Her Ear.

In the Seventies Geraldine McEwan played the title role in the TV series The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She appeared on the TV shows Thirty Minute Theatre, BBC Play of the Month, Away From It All, ITV Saturday Night Theatre, and Late Night Theatre. She appeared in the films The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1976) and Escape from the Dark (1976).

In the Eighties Miss McEwan played one of the title roles in the TV series Mapp & Lucia. She also appeared in recurring roles in the mini-series The Barchester Chronicles and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. She appeared on the shows All for Love and Tears Before Bedtime. Miss McEwan appeared in the films Foreign Body (1986) and Henry V (1989). On stage she appeared in The Rivals at the National Theatre in London.

In the Nineties Geraldine McEwan had a regular role in the TV series Mulberry. She guest starred on the TV show Red Dwarf. She appeared in the films Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), The Love Letter (1999), Titus (1999), Love's Labour's Lost (2000), and Contaminated Man (2000). She appeared on Broadway in The Chairs and The Way of the World at the National Theatre in London.

In the Naughts she appeared in the films Food of Love (2002), The Magdalene Sisters (2002), Pure (2002), Vanity Fair (2004), and The Lazarus Child (2005). She was the voice of Miss Thripp in the Wallace & Grommit feature film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and the Wallace & Grommit short "A Matter of Life and Death". She also provided the voice of Haru in Arrietty (2010). From 2004 to 2007 she played the role of Miss Marple in the TV series Agatha Christie's Marple.

Geraldine McEwan was a marvellous actress. As Miss Marple she shined in a role that had already been played by many great actresses. While Miss McEwan may ultimately be best remembered for her stint as Miss Marple, she gave many other fine performances throughout her career. The soft spoken but sadistic Sister Bridget in The Magdalene Sisters (2002) was about as far as one could get from Agatha Christie's famous amateur detective as one could get. Although known for performing in many dramas, she had a gift for comedy, as shown by her role as Lucia in the TV series Mapp & Lucia. Geraldine McEwan was a most remarkable actress with a considerable range.

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