Glenda Jackson, a two-time Oscar winner, passed away at the age of 87. She made the bold decision to leave her successful acting career behind to join the British Parliament and later returned to the stage in the remarkable role of “King Lear.” Her death, confirmed by her longtime agent Lionel Larner, followed a brief illness and came shortly after completing a new film project with Michael Caine.
Throughout her career, Glenda Jackson demonstrated an extraordinary range of emotions, including passion, pain, humor, anger, and affection, both on stage and on screen. She was known for taking risks and pushing the boundaries of entertainment. Notable performances included her fierce portrayal of Charlotte Corday in Peter Brook’s production of “Marat/Sade” and her role as Tchaikovsky’s tormented wife in Ken Russell’s film “The Music Lovers.” She won two Oscars for her performances in “Women in Love” and “A Touch of Class.”
In 1992, Glenda Jackson shifted gears and entered politics. She was elected to the British Parliament, representing the London constituency of Hampstead and Highgate for the Labour Party. After the party came into power in 1997, she served as a junior minister of transport before resigning two years later. She later made an unsuccessful bid to become the mayor of London.
Although she initially declared herself too old, Glenda Jackson returned to acting after not seeking re-election in 2015. Known for her emotional power and versatile voice, she played memorable roles such as the troubled poet Stevie Smith in “Stevie” and the needy divorcée Alex Greville in “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” On Broadway, she earned praise for her performances in “Strange Interlude” and “Three Tall Women,” which won her a Tony Award for Best Actress in 2018.
One of Glenda Jackson’s most remarkable performances was her portrayal of “King Lear” in 2016, after a 23-year hiatus from the theater. Her return to the stage garnered widespread acclaim, with critics noting her seamless embodiment of the male role. She reprised the role on Broadway in 2019.
Born on May 9, 1936, in Birkenhead, England, Glenda Jackson grew up in modest circumstances. Her parents’ occupations were a bricklayer and a house cleaner/barmaid. She overcame challenges and secured a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Despite being initially told she would only succeed as a character actress, she persevered and made her mark in the acting world.
Glenda Jackson was known for her strong work ethic and commitment to her craft. She immersed herself in her roles, often undertaking extensive preparations to add authenticity to her performances. Her dedication was evident in her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC mini-series “Elizabeth R,” for which she won an Emmy.
In 1992, she made a pivotal decision to pursue a career in politics due to her dissatisfaction with the state of the entertainment industry and her opposition to the Conservative government. During her time in Parliament, she championed causes such as homelessness, housing, women’s rights, disability issues, and transportation. Her opposition to the Iraq war led her to call for Prime Minister Tony Blair’s resignation.
Glenda Jackson’s personal life included a marriage to fellow actor Roy Hodges, which ended in divorce. She chose to remain unmarried and lived with her son, political journalist Dan Hodges, and his family. Despite her fame, she preferred a modest lifestyle and public transportation. Glenda Jackson will be remembered as a strong and independent woman who left a lasting impact on both the acting and political spheres.