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Judi Dench Biography


Dame Judith Olivia Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA, known as Judi Dench, is an English actress. She has won nine BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award.

Attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and at Old Vic Theatre. She is a five-time BAFTA winner including Best Actress in a Comedy Series for "A Fine Romance" (1981) in which she appeared with her husband, Michael Williams, and Best Supporting Actress in A Handful of Dust (1988) and A Room with a View (1985) . She received an ACE award for her performance in the television series Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985) (TV). She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1970, and was created Dame of Order of the British Empire in 1988.

When Royal Shakespeare Company Director Peter Hall asked Judi Dench to play the title role in a staged, and then later televised, production of Cleopatra, Dench refused, saying that her Cleopatra would be a "menopausal dwarf." Director Hall was later successful in coaxing Dench into the role, of which she won rave reviews from both theatre critics and TV audiences.

Her first stage appearance was as a snail in a play at her Quaker junior school.

She made history in 1996 as the first person to win two Laurence Olivier awards (for British theatre) for different roles.

Her 1999 Oscar was awarded for an eight minute performance in only four scenes as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998). It is the second shortest ever performance to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the only shorter performance being Beatrice Straight's six minute performance in Network (1976).

Mother, with Michael Williams, of Finty Williams.

Created the role of Sally Bowles in the London premiere of the musical, Cabaret.

She was to play "Grizabella" in the original "CATS" West End production, but an ailment forced her out of the play. Elaine Paige replaced her.

She was ranked second in the 2001 Orange Film Survey of the greatest British Film Actresses.

Received the Film Actress Award for her role in Chocolat at The Variety Club Showbusiness Awards 2002. Unfortunately Ms Dench was in attendance at the Berlin Film Festival and couldn't attend the Awards ceremony, but was able to send a televised message congratulating the charity on its 50th anniversary.

Awarded an honorary DLitt by Oxford University on 28 June 2000.

Was awarded an honourary Litt.D. (Doctor in Letters) from Trinity College on Friday, 11th July, 2003.

She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1984 (1983 season) for Best Actress in a New Play for Pack of Lies.

She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1988 (1987 season) for Best Actress in a New Play for Antony and Cleopatra.

Presented with The Society's Special Award for her outstanding contribution to British theatre at the 2004 Laurence Olivier Awards. [22 February 2004]

She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1996 (1995 season) for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in A Little Night Music at the Royal National Theatre Olivier Stage.

She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1996 (1995 season) for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Absolute Hell at the Royal National Theatre Lyttleton Stage.

She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1999 (1998 season) for Best Actress for her performance in Filumena.

She was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress of the 1997 season for her performance in Amy's View at the Royal National Theatre: Lyttelton and then Aldwych theatres.

Sister of Jeffery Dench.

She was awarded the 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Special Award for her Outstanding Contributions to British Theatre.

She was awarded the 1982 London Critics' Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actress of 1981 for A Kind Of Alaska and The Importance of Being Earnest.

She was awarded the 1987 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actress for her performance in Anthony and Cleopatra.

She was awarded the 1987 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in Anthony and Cleopatra.

She was awarded the 1982 London Evening Standard Award for Best Actress for her performance in A Kind of Alaska and The Importance of Being Earnest.

During the filming of "As Time Goes By" (1992) , she used to direct everybody to hide from the director when he left the set.

Even after winning so many acting awards, she still admits to be insecure and wanting to improve the next performance. She admitted that she prefers stage first, television second and film in third place.

She was awarded the 1997 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama) for Best Actress for her performance in Amy's View at the Royal National Theatre.

She was awarded the 1997 London Evening Standard Theatre Award: The Patricia Rothermere Award for her contributions to theatre.

An Associate Member of RADA.

Won Broadway's 1999 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for "Amy's View."

Voted Best British Actress of all time in a poll for Sky TV [Feb 2005].

Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2005 Razzie Award nominating ballot. She was listed as a suggestion in the Worst Supporting Actress category for her performance in the film The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), she failed to receive a nomination however.

Made a Companion of Honour in the Queen's Birthday Honours. [11 June 2005]

Currently supporting the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds Restoration Appeal (2005).

Topped the poll in Britain's Finest Actresses, July 2005

Attended the Mount School and at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

She and Vanessa Redgrave were in the same class at drama school.

As of 2007, received six Oscar nominations, all of them when she was already over the age of 60. No other actor or actress collected more nominations when older than 60, the closest runner-ups being Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy, Melvyn Douglas and Edith Evans with a mere three nominations each.

When she started training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, she admits she wasn't taking it as seriously as she ought to have done. She was caught out during an improvisation scene at which point she realised that that was what it was all about and studied harder than she had ever done in her life.

Was not able to attend the Oscars in 2007, because she had to undergo a knee surgery.

Shares two roles with both Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett. She and Winslet both played the title role in Iris (2001/I), and she and Blanchette have both played Queen Elizabeth. All three of them have played Ophelia in Hamlet.

At the opening of the Judi Dench Theatre in London in 1986 she was introduced as "Here she is, Miss Judy Geeson'.

She and her The Shipping News (2001) and Notes on a Scandal (2006) co-star Cate Blanchett both received Oscar-nominations for playing Queen Elizabeth I in 1999. Dench won for her supporting role in Shakespeare in Love (1998) while Blanchett was nominated for Elizabeth (1998).

Provides the narration for Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot in the 4th version (soft opening December 2007, final opening scheduled for February 2008).

Judi Dench is the new narrator of Spaceship Earth, the dark ride at EPCOT. She replaced Jeremy Irons after Walt Disney World and Siemens decided to update the classic ride housed inside the infamous golf-ball.

She is a frequent co-star of her close friend Geoffrey Palmer.

First female to portray the 007 series character "M" which she did in GoldenEye (1995).

Good friend of Paul Scofield.

Awarded honorary D.Litt from the University of St Andrews, June 2008.
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