Actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave made dame in New Year Honours

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  • Vanessa Redgrave
    Vanessa Redgrave
    British actress
  • Michael Redgrave
    Michael Redgrave
    English actor (1908-1985)

Vanessa Redgrave has been made a dame in the New Year Honours.

The acclaimed actress, 84, whose career has spanned more than six decades, has been honoured for services to drama.

She said: “I’m surprised and grateful to join this wondrous group of British artists whose work has inspired me and audiences the world over.

“My generation fought for freedom of expression. Long may this remain.”

Redgrave has been nominated for six Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for best supporting actress in 1977 for her role in Julia, in which she starred alongside Jane Fonda.

BAFTA Awards 2010 – Press Room – London
Vanessa Redgrave with the Bafta Fellowship in 2010 (Ian West/PA)

She won the Bafta for best actress in television in 1967 and was given the Bafta Fellowship in 2010.

Redgrave is also one of a handful of prominent actresses to be awarded the British Film Institute’s most prestigious accolade, the BFI Fellowship – receiving the honour in 1988.

She was made a CBE in 1967.

The actress made her West End debut opposite her father, Michael Redgrave, in A Touch Of The Sun and later appeared alongside him in her film debut, the 1958 production of Behind The Mask.

Throughout the 1960s she starred in films including Blow-Up, Isadora and Camelot before her Oscar win for Julia.

Her other on-screen credits include Agatha, Howards End, Mission: Impossible, and Atonement.

Redgrave also appeared in the 2011 adaptation of Coriolanus alongside a host of famous faces including Ralph Fiennes, Brian Cox, Gerard Butler and Jessica Chastain.

As well as her career she has also been a tireless activist for a number of causes.

Solidarity with Refugees march
Vanessa Redgrave on stage addressing the crowd during a rally in Parliament Square, London, after taking part in the Refugees Welcome march (Yui Mok/PA)

In August 2020 she joined protests outside London’s Southbank Centre in a bid to prevent plans to cut 365 jobs following the fallout from coronavirus.

Later in October she joined the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, in calling for better support for the cultural sector.

Redgrave was born on January 30 1937 in London, while her father was on stage in Hamlet at the Old Vic with Laurence Olivier.

Her mother, Rachel Kempson, was also an actress as were her siblings, sister Lynn and brother Corin.

Sir Peter Hall memorial service
Vanessa Redgrave and daughter Joely Richardson (Yui Mok/PA)

Her daughter Joely Richardson is best known for roles in Nip/Tuck, 101 Dalmatians and The Patriot.

Her other daughter, The Parent Trap and Maid In Manhattan star Natasha Richardson, died after a skiing accident in 2009.

Her son Carlo Gabriel Nero is a screenwriter and director.

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